Effects of Alcoholism on Vitamin Depletion
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the leading substance abuse issue in the United States. It kills approximately 88,000 individuals each year through direct and indirect causes and can lead to serious long-term physical and psychological health issues, one of the most common of which is vitamin deficiency. Prolonged and untreated alcohol abuse leads to the depletion of essential vitamins and minerals that keep the body going. The effects of alcoholism on vitamin depletion can be particularly problematic for teenagers and adolescents, over 33 percent of whom admit to drinking, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Excessive alcohol consumption among this age group and can deprive the body of the vitamins it needs to fully develop.
How Does Alcoholism Affect Vitamin Depletion?
There are multiple ways in which prolonged and untreated alcohol abuse robs the body of vitamins, including but not limited to:
- Limitation of Food Intake – Alcoholics tend to eat less because they get the primary share of their calories from alcohol. This means they’re not getting essential naturally occurring food-related vitamins and nutrients.
- Gastrointestinal Obstruction – Excessive alcohol consumption negatively impacts the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, which can compromise the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. It also causes the body to more quickly expel whatever vitamins and nutrients actually get absorbed.
This depletion of vitamins can lead to a variety of issues, including chronic fatigue, pain, dehydration, frequent sickness, depression, bone loss, tooth decay and much more. Lack of vitamins can significantly exacerbate alcohol withdrawal symptoms and prolong pain and sickness.
What Types of Vitamins are Depleted through Alcoholism?
While not all types of vitamin-intake are compromised as a result of alcohol consumption, there are several key vitamins of which alcoholics are often deprived while drinking. One of the most common and serous types of alcohol-related vitamin deficiency is lack of B vitamins like Thiamine, which is an essential vitamin for neurobiological health. Other types of vitamins that are often depleted through excessive alcohol consumption include, but are not limited to:
- Vitamin C
All of these vitamins play a key role in the body’s chemistry and help to promote optimal physical and psychological health. They are key to fighting conditions like cancer, chronic pain, premature aging, diabetes, immunity issues and more. They also fight depression and central nervous system issues. Vitamin A deficiencies are associated with alcoholism as well, which can increase the risk of infections and reduce eyesight.
Addressing the Effects of Alcohol on Vitamin Depletion in Treatment
The alcohol detox process should address the physical fallout of patients’ prolonged and untreated problem drinking and all medical issues that resulted from or contributed to it. These includes comprehensive bloodwork to determine patient’s vitamin levels and any other supplementary care they made need to make sure they’re getting the proper care. Patients may also have to start taking higher doses of vitamin supplements to ensure they’re getting the right amount.
The fact that alcohol is legal can sometimes blur the lines between healthy and acceptable social drinking and excessive alcohol consumption. The long-term effects of alcohol are very real and can lead to serious and lasting medical issues that begin with vitamin deficiency. Get the help you need today.
- CDC – Alcohol Use and Your Health
- CDC – Underage Drinking