Alcohol has a detrimental effect on the body’s use of vitamins and minerals and our wellbeing
B vitamin, Folate, also called vitamin B-9, is essential for the growth of new cells. The absorption of this vitamin is restricted by ingestion of alcohol. Alcohol restricts absorption of folate and other vitamins by killing the cells lining the stomach and intestines that mediate the absorption of these nutrients.
Alcohol damages the ability of the body to absorb the vitamin thiamin, also called vitamin B-1 that helps break down carbohydrates, proteins and fat in the food you eat. It also aids in production of haemoglobin, the protein that binds oxygen in red blood cells.
Alcohol causes reduced absorption of vitamin B-12. This vitamin is important for the health of both nerve cells and red blood cells. Excessive alcohol can result in a deficiency in this vitamin and can lead to a nerve disease called peripheral neuropathy. The symptoms of this disease are tingling sensations and/or pain in the extremities.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins, including vitamins A, D and E need to be dissolved into fat molecules to be used properly in the body. Alcohol inhibits the absorption of fats, which in turn inhibits the absorption of vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin A deficiency leads to night blindness; vitamin D deficiency leads to bone softening; vitamin E deficiency leads to nerve problems.
Deficiencies in this mineral as a result of alcohol consumption are a result of inefficient absorption due to alcohol. This inhibition is an indirect effect of alcohol and, like vitamins A, D, and E, is also due to the decreased absorption of fats. A deficiency in calcium can lead to softening of bones.
Alcohol can cause an iron deficiency due to gastrointestinal bleeding. Iron is necessary for the function of red blood cells, and thus a deficiency may result in anaemia.
Alcohol can cause a zinc deficiency by decreasing how well this mineral is absorbed, but also by inhibiting the absorption of other nutrients that zinc depends on for its function. Normal levels of zinc are needed for optimal growth during childhood and for normal taste and smell.