Nutrients Commonly Depleted By Alcohol

By James Madeiros


Booze Beats Up Nutrients: A List of Losers

It’s no secret that enjoying an adult beverage or two can drain the body of vital nutrients faster than a Hummer takes down a tank of gas, but what’s never in the news is how many vitamins and minerals are actually impacted.

The temptation here is to just say “all of them” in answer to which vitamins can be depleted. And, that would almost be accurate, but it always pays to do the research and be specific when it comes to science-type stuff.

So, without any further ado, we review a list of vitamins and nutrients that can suffer a beating at the hands of alcohol.

1. Vitamin A

It’s too bad that booze bashes vitamin A, because this is an awesome vitamin to have around. It helps with cell growth, cellular communication and immune system performance.

Restock on this vitamin with dairy products, fish and meat – especially liver – when you’ve had a hard day’s night.

Edit: Matthew also made a good point in the comments: Vitamin A can also be obtained as pro-vitamin A carotenoids (such as beta carotene, alpha carotene, and others) from colorful fruits and vegetables, like carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apricots, and leafy greens. The body converts these compounds to retinol (a type of vitamin A) in the small intestine.

2. B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine is very important and if you’re running low on it you could damage lots of important stuff … like your eyes and your brain. A serious deficiency can lead to the dreaded Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which you will notice when you lose your mind.

Beans, carrots, nuts, rice, wheat and cauliflower can keep you in B1 heaven, so remember to pass the peanuts the next time you pony up at the pub.

3. B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin helps with metabolism and other cell functions and is in constant danger of depletion even without booze, so it’s important to target foods that contain it.

You can find vitamin B2 in pretty much anything thanks to the fortification of foods in the U.S. Of all the nutrients threatened by the drink, this one is likely the most easily replaced.

4. B6 (Pyridoxine)

The National Institute of Health recently determined that B6 deficiencies were the most common vitamin deficiency in the U.S., which can lead to anemia, depression and cognitive dysfunction and other problems.

While it sounds bad, B6 is everywhere and you only need 2 milligrams a day. Bananas, potatoes, poultry and prune juice are all good for a shot of pyridoxine.

5. Vitamin C

You’ve heard the stories and they’re all true: letting this vitamin slide is an invitation for scurvy. On a more relevant note, it’s also essential for tissue and bone repair and the elimination of free radicals.

Fruits and vegetables all contain some measure of vitamin C, and citrus fruits are especially rich in this essential nutrient. You might think drinking screwdrivers would solve all your troubles, but stocking up while you’re not enjoying a cocktail is really the only way to go.

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is next on the loser’s list and a lack of it in the system can cause problems with the bones like osteoporosis, rickets and general bone and teeth weakness.

Good sources of vitamin D include dairy products, fish, liver and sunlight. Dining outside on a sunny afternoon the day after may sound like a headache waiting to happen, but it can also be your saving grace.

7. Vitamin E

By now you’re probably wondering where the alphabet slaughter ends. Unfortunately, vitamin E is also no match for booze and deficiencies can cause ataxia and other types of peripheral neuropathy.

Avoid these problems with whole grains, spinach, sunflower seeds nut oils and wheat germ.

8. Vitamin K

Vitamin K deficiencies are ultra-rare and are identified by your blood not clotting. Hello! It bears mentioning because even though there’s only an outside chance alcohol can cause it, it’s nevertheless possible.

Green leafy vegetables are the way to go when looking for vitamin K, but it can also be found in fish, liver, meat and eggs.


Booze beats up a whole host of nutrients and minerals as well, including calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, selenium, tyrosine, folic acid and a slew of other inscrutable but necessary energizers.

Not replenishing these minerals and nutrients can cause variations on the problems discussed above and so should be avoided. A big omnivorous breakfast can usually cover all the bases in this department, not to mention more than a few of the vitamins, too.

Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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