Alcohol and Supplementation: The Good & The Bad
Updated: Aug 31
While we are already aware that consuming alcohol isn’t good for us, we sometimes attempt to make up for our consumption by taking supplements or remedies to detox our body. The truth of the matter is that the only way to avoid complete alcohol damage is to abstain from drinking, but many companies still advertise themselves as “cures” for hangovers or ways to offset the damage done to certain organs.
Before adding supplementation into your diet, it’s important to understand all possible side effects and speak to your physician. Like many medications, mixing alcohol with supplementation can lead to negative and even dangerous side effects.
Alcohol suppresses our central nervous system, which helps us to feel relaxed or distressed. This can also make us tired and is the reason many of us enjoy a nightcap or two before bed to help us fall asleep. Be mindful when taking any of the supplements below with alcohol, as their known side effects are also drowsiness:
St. John's wort
Like alcohol, some natural supplements can also cause liver damage. When we drink in excess or for elongated periods of time we put ourselves at risk of fatty liver diseases, cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis. If you are currently drinking, it is best to avoid the following supplements that may cause liver toxicity:
Now let’s get to the good supplements! The following supplements can help you to restore your body’s natural state once you have quit drinking or have cut back significantly:
L-Glutamine: A great supplement for anyone trying to reduce their alcohol consumption. This amino acid occurs naturally in the body and many protein-rich foods, and is a building block for some of the brain chemicals that regulate anxiety and depression.
Vitamin B: Many individuals who drink large quantities of alcohol are deficient in vitamin B1, or thiamine. In fact, this is one of the main vitamins given to people going through medical detox from alcohol. Vitamin B deficiency can cause weight loss, irritability, fatigue, and in extreme cases lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, also known as wet brain.
Glycine: Another amino acid used to make proteins in the body. It can be an especially good supplement for people with alcohol-related liver damage. Studies show that glycine is useful in treating both alcoholic hepatitis and carcinoma caused by alcoholic cirrhosis. Even if you are not suffering from these conditions, taking glycine may help protect your liver if you have a history of heavy drinking.
Calcium: People who drink alcohol are at higher risk of calcium deficiency, since alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to properly absorb this vital nutrient. This can increase the chances of developing osteoporosis, especially for women. If you’re currently drinking, trying to cut back, or quit, taking calcium supplements is another great way to protect your overall health.
CBD: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound that naturally occurs in the cannabis plant. More research is needed, but early studies suggest that CBD may help with pain management, anxiety, alcohol cravings, and even liver and brain damage linked to excessive drinking.
Remember it’s important to speak with a medical professional or someone who is licensed in supplementation before adding anything to your diet.