Heavy Alcohol Use and Vitamin Deficiency

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on January 5, 2022.

Heavy alcohol use seriously impacts many aspects of a person's health. One of the most common issues associated with alcohol consumption is vitamin deficiency. Prolonged, heavy alcohol use depletes essential vitamins that keep the body going. Vitamin depletion can lead to numerous health problems, including dehydration, chronic pain, depression, tooth decay and many other issues.

Why Does Alcohol Deplete Vitamins?

Heavy alcohol use depletes vitamins in several ways, including:

Gastrointestinal Obstructions

Excessive alcohol consumption damages the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which can limit the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. Whatever vitamins and nutrients do get absorbed are also expelled more quickly.

Limited Food Intake

Heavy drinkers tend to eat less because they are getting their primary share of calories from alcohol. As a result, they don't get the natural vitamins and minerals that come from eating food and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

Alcohol and Vitamin B Deficiency

B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin and B12 are crucial to the human body. They help us produce red blood cells and are essential to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. These vitamins can easily become depleted from alcohol use, as alcohol flushes B vitamins from our systems.

A vitamin B deficiency can cause depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue. It also makes us more vulnerable to serious conditions like cancer, diabetes and chronic pain.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Alcohol Consumption

Vitamin D is essential to many aspects of our health. It helps keep our heart, bones and teeth strong. It also helps prevent diseases like scoliosis, Type 1 diabetes, dementia and certain types of cancer.

Higher amounts of vitamin D can also increase serotonin levels in your body. Serotonin helps regulate your mood and anxiety. When your serotonin levels are low, you're more likely to suffer from depression, fatigue and sleep disorders.

Alcohol consumption lowers vitamin D levels, making people more susceptible to health problems.

Other Vitamins Depleted by Alcohol

Numerous other vitamins are depleted by alcohol use, such as:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Omega-3

These vitamin deficiencies contribute to a range of health issues, including anemia, depression, weakness, skin disorders and various other problems.

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