Written by Annmarie Cannone, Naturopath. M. Hum Nutr, Grad Dip Naturopathy, B. App Sci (Naturopathic Studies)
The festive season is upon us and let’s face it, we all tend to drink more than what we usually do during this time and our diets tend not to be as nutritious as what they usually would be.
Our B group vitamins are water soluble which means, they are easily absorbed and just as easily excreted from our body. As alcohol is a diuretic (increases fluid loss) we tend to excrete more B vitamins than usual and if these B vitamins are not replenished in enough time, a hangover may arise.
Looking at B vitamins in the festive season context, B vitamins, namely B1 (Thiamine) usually facilitates the process to which your liver can break down alcohol, and eliminate it efficiently. In the absence of sufficient B1, the efficiency of this process diminishes and with this, there is more circulating alcohol for longer periods of time. For those chasing the drunk effect, this may sound like a perk, but the flip side of this is that the severity and duration of the hang over is also increased.
If there is such a thing as safe alcohol drinking (its debatable), it would be best to ensure that you are well equipped to process the alcohol and remove the alcohol efficiently. There seems to be a belief that the alcohol you consume now only affects you today and possibly tomorrow. This is untrue. It is important to keep an eye on the negative effects of alcohol in the long term so that you can counter or prevent any wear and tear. Supporting your alcohol elimination processes and replacing anything that is rapidly utilised (B1) or eliminated through all the fluid loss (water, magnesium, electrolytes, etc.) will get you a long way in terms of hangover and general health.
As well as our B vitamins tending to become depleted, Magnesium, an essential mineral also depletes quite readily with excessive alcohol intake. Alcohol acts acutely as a magnesium diuretic, causing a prompt and vigorous increase in the urinary excretion of the mineral. This significantly impacts your magnesium status, making you vulnerable to magnesium deficiency. Magnesium depletion in the context of alcohol consumption can result in muscle cramps and most commonly, a headache.
To prevent yourself from waking up the next morning with a sore head from excessively consuming alcohol, the following tips may be of benefit:
- Keep hydrated and for every standard drink ensure you consume a glass of water with it, or, for every bathroom trip consume a glass of water afterwards.
- Consume a B complex and Magnesium supplement prior to heading out to a function.
- Try and consume 250mL of mineral water whilst out to aid with replenishing your electrolytes as well as Magnesium.
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