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Vitamin deficiencies have been conclusively linked to certain cancers, pancreas and liver disease and even brain damage. If you are a recovering alcoholic, you need to pay close attention to your nutrition, and should consider adding vitamin and mineral supplements to compensate for any period of abuse.

Many of us who ultimately enter rehab do so in less than ideal health, and as a result, one important part of the rehab experience is getting good nutrition and exercise. Alcoholics especially can be prone to certain nutritional deficiencies as a consequence of their abuse, and can benefit greatly from good nutrition and the use of vitamin and mineral supplements.

Problem drinking is not only socially problematic; it also devastates whole body health and wellness. Alcohol interferes with our body's processing, absorption, and even consumption of vitamins and nutrients, and too often alcoholics show vitamin deficiencies, and may ultimately suffer serious health consequences from these deficiencies.

Vitamins as Therapy?

Some alternative treatment studies report that vitamin supplements can reduce the craving for alcohol, and as such should be used as a part of the treatment for alcohol dependency.

These alternative healers and nutritionists point to certain animal studies that indicate a reduction in alcohol consumption in response to a vitamin therapy. The jury is still out on this one, but at the very least, taking your vitamins is good for your health, and just maybe it even helps you maintain your sobriety.

If you are still drinking, be aware of the toll that your habits may be having on your body, and make sure you get good nutrition with supplements as necessary. If you are no longer drinking, you may have a vitamin debt to make up, and should concentrate on good nutrition, and additionally on the use of supplements.

Skip the wine…have a salad, your body will thank you for it.

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Alcohol consumption interferes with out vitamin and mineral intake in three ways, and none of them are good!

Firstly, the use and misuse of alcohol causes a change in the way the body metabolizes certain vitamins and trace minerals, and can even cause an increased requirement for certain minerals, particularly B vitamins.

Secondly, changes in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, partially due to changes in gastro intestinal functioning, can also result in a vitamin and mineral deficiency. Alcohol is notoriously hard on the GI tract, and many of us who drank a lot also suffered a lot of diarrhea and other GI disorders…this is not good for you!

Lastly, although alcohol is very calorie rich, it is completely nutrient empty. Alcohol, when consumed in small quantities can stimulate the appetite, but when consumed in large quantities (such as the quantities regularly consumed by an alcoholic) the opposite occurs, and the result is that chronic drinkers seldom get adequate food intake, and suffer from a lessening in vitamin and mineral intake as a result.

Alcohol causes less vitamin intake, less vitamin and nutrient absorption, and requires greater amounts of vitamins and nutrients for ordinary processing. Taken together these three factors explain the vitamin deficiencies often seen in long term alcoholics.

This vitamin deficiency is pretty serious stuff, and has been conclusively linked to certain cancers, liver and pancreatic diseases, and even irreversible brain damage. Your body needs vitamins, and you pay the price if you rob your body of what it needs.

Common Deficiencies

Some common deficiencies seen in alcoholics are a deficiency of folic acid, vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, B12, folate, niacin, vitamin D and vitamin K. These are all pretty important, and with the deficiencies produced by chronic heavy drinking, you are at great risk for a number of serious disorders. The lack of B1 is particularly scary, and in severe cases can cause Korsakoffs syndrome, which is an irreversible brain damage leading to reduced cognitive performance, confusion, and memory loss.

You can't take back what was, but you can try to correct any deficiencies now by making sure you get the nutrition that you need and by taking vitamin and mineral supplements, as recommended by a doctor or nutritionist.

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Page last updated Jun 03, 2012

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