Twenty-six episodes of ‘The A-Files’ air throughout Alcohol Awareness Month on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alcohologist.com and AddictedMinds.com, among other web and social media sites. Episode V returns to the topic of nutrition with Vitamin Deficiency. Even moderate alcohol use destroys vital nutrients – vitamins, minerals, and amino acids – that control mental function, preventing depression, and maintaining physical health. I’ll note only two here: It raids the body of B-vitamins and has a dramatic impact on the way vitamin A is handled. A study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal gives a little more detail on vitamin A first.
It suggests long-term alcohol use lowers vitamin A levels in the liver, which is the main site of both, alcohol metabolism and vitamin A storage, while bumping up vitamin A levels in many other tissues. Initially 15 percent of the body’s vitamin A migrates out of the liver to other tissues. Ultimately, around 60 percent of the vitamin is lost with heavier or more frequent drinking. So it’s a wash if liver vitamin A is low and vitamin A in other tissues is elevated, right? Not exactly.
The liver needs the vitamin A to stave off liver disease. And the other tissues don’t feed the A into the bloodstream the way the liver does. You’ll know you’re deficient in the vitamin if you get night blindness or blotchy rashes or both. If it builds up in other tissues, it can become toxic. Self medicating with vitamin A supplements would worsen it, even if the liver stores are low. Vitamin A toxicity usually reveals itself with headaches, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting… which could be confused with the alcohol itself.
The B-complex vitamins are especially vulnerable and destroyed by alcohol. Specifically, B-vitamin absorption is blocked by alcohol use and vitamin-B stores are drained by the by the process of metabolizing the alcohol and ridding it from the body. These vitamins are essential to mental and emotional well being. Vitamin B1 deficiencies can cause neurological and cardiac disorders among drinkers. B2, B3, B12 and folic acid deficiency are all linked to depression and fatigue because they help control how the body uses energy. Vitamin B-6 deficiency can disrupt the formation of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can have the effect of helping make a moderate drinker alcohol dependent. Introducing a toxin into the body’s delicate nutrient balance has yet to be proven to increase wellness or longevity.
The entire 26 episode HD series is available on disc, along with fact sheets, for helping professions. See the preorder special at tr.im/TheAFiles