As you probably already know, chronic alcohol inhibits the absorption and usage of vital nutrients, including folic acid, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin B1, or thiamin. Your body cannot produce these chemicals but must obtain them through your diet.
|Nutrient||Function||Effect of Deficiency|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||Converting carbohydrates into energy, especially for the brain and nervous system||Memory loss
Damage to the nervous system
(Thiamine deficiency is one of the most common results of chronic drinking)
|Folic Acid||Producing healthy red blood cells
Making and repairing DNA and RNA
|Vitamin B12||Producing healthy red blood cells
Maintenance of the nervous system
|Zinc||Immune system function
Breakdown of carbohydrates
|Frequent infections, poor appetite, slow wound healing|
Heavy alcohol consumers often think that a diet high in these nutrients or taking replacement pills can prevent or reverse the effects nutritional deficiency. Although these measures may work, chronic alcohol consumption will also impair the absorption of these vitamins. Occasionally, large infusions of vitamin B1 and other nutrients may restore brain function, but neither prevention nor treatment will work in a person who continues to drink.
In essence, vitamin replacement measures works best only when you have stopped drinking.
The harmful effects of alcohol far exceed the benefits of vitamins, especially when other effects of alcoholism are not reversible. Addiction carries a heavy price tag, affecting not only your health but your relationships, your family, your job, your goals, your future.
However, those who have chosen sobriety can benefit from vitamin and mineral replacement. There is definitely hope for alcoholics entering recovery who have difficulty with motor control or memory. No matter where you are, it is never too late to start a new life.
“You know, there’s always hope as long as you are breathing, and there’s hope that you can come in and have a new life.” –Amy, Duffy’s counselor