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Nutrition Recommendations for Those Who Consume Alcohol

Drinking too much on a single occasion, or over time, can have a serious impact on your health. Boulder Medical Center offers these nutrition recommendations for those who consume alcohol in moderation or in excess, now or in the past.

The process of metabolizing alcohol requires nutrients. As the liver decreases its supply of these nutrients, the blood stream is called upon to replenish the supply. As a result, body cells are deprived of critical nutrients and normal body functions suffer. If you consume alcohol regularly and try to stop, you may suffer from symptoms that include anxiety, insomnia, tremors, shakiness, dizziness, and depression. You may also experience impaired cognitive thinking and poor memory.

About Essential Vitamins & Nutrients

Many of the symptoms described above are caused by nutrient deficiencies, particularly the B-complex vitamins, which are especially vulnerable to alcohol use. These vitamins are essential to mental and emotional well being. The list of B-complex vitamins include:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin) — Deficiencies trigger depression and irritability and can cause neurological and cardiac disorders
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) — In 1982, an article published in the British Journal of Psychiatry reported that every one of 172 successive patients admitted to a British psychiatric hospital for treatment for depression was deficient in B2
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) — Depletion causes anxiety, depression, apprehension and fatigue
  • Pantothenic Acid — Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress and depression
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) — Deficiencies can disrupt the formation of neurotransmitters
  • Vitamin B12  — Deficiency will cause depression.
  • Folic Acid — Deficiency is a common cause of depression.

Deficiencies of other nutrients can also contribute to the negative feelings that frequently lead susceptible individuals toward another alcoholic beverage. These include:

  • Vitamin C — Continuing deficiency causes chronic depression and fatigue
  • Magnesium Symptoms of deficiency include confusion, apathy, loss of appetite, weakness and insomnia
  • Calcium — Depletion effects the central nervous system
  • Zinc Inadequacies result in apathy, lack of appetite and lethargy
  • Iron — Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron deficiency
  • Manganese — Necessary for proper use of the B-Complex vitamins and Vitamin C
  • Potassium — Depletion is frequently associated with depression, tearfulness, weakness and fatigue
  • Chromium — Enhances glucose uptake into cells. A deficiency can cause hypoglycemia
  • Omega 3 EFA — In adults, skin disorders and anemia develop as a consequence of EFA deficiency
Boulder-Medical-Center-New-Food-Pyramid
                               The New Food Pyramid

 

The Importance of Good Nutrition

In general, good nutrition plays an important part in physical and emotional health. To minimize symptoms that go along with the absence of regular alcohol use and to replenish depleted nutrients, here are some basic recommendations:

Diet Recommendations

  • Eat healthy. A simple way to do this is by following the food guide pyramid recommendations. The New Food Pyramid (on right) has a high proportion of vegetables and fruits with lower proportions of dairy and white meat, and a very small fraction of red meats and processed foods.
  • Avoid foods containing refined sugars and white flours.
  • Eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods – stay away from junk food.
  • Drink an adequate amount of water each day. Water flushes toxins from your system and keeps your body working properly. A common recommendation is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. You may need more less, depending on how healthy you are, how much you exercise, etc.
  • Try to eat at least three healthy meals per each, even if your appetite is poor. Smaller portions are fine.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Avoid all sources of nicotine.

Nutrient Notes

  • Include 250mg Vitamin C, 150mg magnesium, 1500mg calcium and 500 mg niacin from dietary sources each day. A good multivitamin/mineral supplement (like Centrum) is also recommended.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids can help to minimize symptoms. Try including 3-4 ounces of fish 2-4 times per week or adding flaxseed to your foods. These are both excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Another way to get these nutrients is with breakfast cereals that are high in flaxseed. You can also add flaxseed to smoothies. Among the fish with the highest omega 3 fatty acid content are Atlantic and Pacific herring, sardines, Atlantic halibut and salmon, lake trout, coho, pink and king salmon, bluefish, albacore tuna and Atlantic mackerel

With a balanced diet and attention to these simple nutrition guidelines, a healthy body and mind is attainable. Add regular exercise to these basics and good health with the positive energy and feelings associated can be yours!


About Boulder Medical Center

Boulder Medical Center is a network of 80 providers and 300 support staff dedicated to engaging our community in high-quality, compassionate health care. With locations throughout Boulder County, our primary and specialty care providers are always close to home.

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