Drinking Robs B Vitamins

We have covered the relationship between vitamin D, alcohol, and depression. We want to talk about another negative side effect of alcohol related to vitamins. Dr. Joseph Bradley Oversees our Nutraceutical Education and Supplements

Alcohol flushes vitamin B from your system. We need vitamin B to manufacture red blood cells. A lack of vitamin B often results in anemia. This makes a person feel weak and tired.  Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in production brain chemicals that effect our mood and many other crucial brain functions. Low levels of B -12 and B-6 have been linked to depression. Drinking alcohol regularly for more than two weeks decreases vitamin B12 absorption from the gastrointestinal tract.

Vitamin B deficiency has been noticed in people who report suffering from depression. Vitamin B deficiency has also been linked to a poor response to antidepressant medication…… to make matters worth for alcoholics suffering with depression. Evidence suggests that people with depression do better in treatment with higher levels of vitamin B12 in their system.  One theory suggests that vitamin B12 deficiency increases the chances for a build up on the amino acid homocysteine, which may exacerbate depression.

Many alcoholics are also deficient in vitamin B3, commonly known as Niacin. In rehab centers around the country, during alcoholic withdrawals, some patients have been reported to spontaneously stop drinking in association with taking niacin supplements. This gave some the idea that alcoholism may be a manifestation of niacin deficiency.

The consumption of alcohol results in the formation of two very toxic compounds…acetaldehyde and malondialdehyde. These compounds generate massive free radicals that damage cells throughout the body. This causes that feeling of illness the next day. Proper antioxidants taken before a night of excessive drinking  can minimize the hangover or damage to the body.  The older one gets the more damage these free radicals can have on the body.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health depression affects 17 million Americans a year. People who have depression shouldn’t drink as it depresses the central nervous system. Alcohol is a depressant. Why add fuel to the fire? Although alcoholic consumption may for a while dull the effects of stress hormones, it more than not leaves the user feeling worse than before because of how it depresses the brain and nervous system. The effects of alcohol on the central nervous system can be seen and measured in terms of human performance especially during field sobriety tests, where an individuals motor skills are radically hampered by excessive alcoholic consumption.

The questions I ask myself after researching all the above is, are clinics and rehab centers using vitamin B to treat alcoholism? Our drug facility does this.  Sierra by the Sea supplements our therapeutic blend of activities with nutraceutical education and supplements. Should vitamin B be given to those with depression automatically? What are the health risks for those who live in areas with little sunlight exposure, like Seattle, Washington who engage in drinking more than just infrequently? Is the cocktail of excessive drinking and  lowered vitamin b levels in the body the perfect storm for depression?

Recovering from substance use disorders is a challenging journey that feels more doable in an environment that tends to each individual’s complex needs and strengths. Our goal is to foster a treatment experience that is built on compassion, hope, and caring, and fueled by excellence in the provision of evidence-based and trauma-informed care.

– - Anonymous