Detoxing from alcohol is a challenging time for your body. Taking alcohol detox vitamins may help withdrawal, cravings, anxiety and depression but which supplements help the most?
A good diet and rest are important, but some deficiencies will need alcohol detox supplements in order to restore a healthy level again.
Then there are supplements to help stop drinking alcohol and even combined packages for people undergoing detox.
To understand how supplements, vitamins and minerals help with detox, we first need to understand how alcohol depletes our entire body when it is overused.
The impact of nutrition on mental health has become more and more obvious in recent studies. This has led many to wonder if the ever-increasing rate of depression worldwide might be linked to lowering quality diets.
Alcoholism, drug use, depression and anxiety are closely linked. Some people drink or use drugs because of temporary relief from anxiety or depression. Only to find later that it has only made the problem worse.
The cause lies in the neurotransmitters that control how we feel. These chemicals in the brain can make us happy, sad, angry, elated, calm, depressed or anxious.
GABA receptors control how calm and content we feel. Alcohol binds to the same parts of the brain as GABA. This means a rise in relaxed and happy feelings for a short time after we start drinking.
However, long-term it convinces the body we have too much GABA and levels drop making our initial depression or anxiety worse.
Yes, many of the symptoms of alcohol detox are because of neglecting our health and nutrition while our body is fighting against the negative effects of alcohol.
Below is a list of issues that come up in alcohol detox and the vitamins that may help you.
Vitamin B3, or niacin, is one of the most affected by alcohol. Too much ethanol in your body prevents you from absorbing niacin.
This, in turn, can lead to depression, memory loss, fatigue and even dementia and death. The condition is called pellagra and has been a known side effect of chronic alcohol use since its discovery.
As pellagra can cause hallucinations and brain fog, it can be mistaken as alcohol withdrawal delirium.
One of the issues with B3 oral supplementation is that in high enough doses to treat pellagra or niacin deficiency, it can cause flushing.
Flushing can mean redness on the skin and itching. One way around this side effect is to take a nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) infusion. The improvement is similar but without flushing.
Vitamin B12 is also important in dealing with alcohol detox as it can help with insomnia. Insomnia is a very common issue during alcohol detox.
Known for various health benefits, NAD IV infusions are more effective and cause fewer side effects than other forms of Niacin or B vitamin supplementation.
You can avoid the flushing effect of normal niacin supplementation, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide gives your metabolism and energy levels a boost as well.
NAD is known as the energy molecule because it plays a vital part in the metabolism of food into energy. Equally, disruption of NAD levels caused by alcoholism can cause fatigue and lethargy.
NAD also helps reduce cravings for alcohol by binding to opioid receptors in your brain. These parts of your brain are disrupted by long-term alcohol misuse, and stopping triggers them to cause cravings.
Originally used for its benefits in the digestive system, scientists are now studying ACV for its mood-altering properties.
While it has been used to help with stomach cramps and bloating for many years, scientists noticed an improvement in mood in studies.
A full trial in the USA found that people with reported low mood improved 34% in those with depressive symptoms in a placebo-controlled study.
It can help stabilise blood sugar, too; apple cider vinegar has multiple benefits during alcohol detox.
Claims of liver repair may be misguided, but milk thistle may be effective if taken before drinking. Studies suggest that milk thistle could prevent alcoholic cirrhosis. It blocks toxins from damaging the liver.
However, it only works around the time people have been drinking. This makes it more helpful in the early stages of alcohol detox. Later, when you are not taking in any alcohol, its effects are not established.
Using milk thistle for alcohol detox is all about timing. Early on, when you are first stopping, it can be useful, but later it is probably less helpful.
MCT oil is used for various issues, but the main two for alcohol detox are energy levels and digestion. MCT oil helps with gut problems which are very common for those in alcohol detox.
Alcohol causes sensitivity in the stomach and changes the speed of your bowel movements. The effect is reversed when you detox; it can cause problems from diarrhoea and cramps to constipation and nausea.
MCT oil can also help with fatigue and sugar cravings. It is well known that former alcoholics eat more than they did before stopping.
A traditional medicine used to aid in mood, sleep and mental health. Bacopa has been studied recently for its effects in improving your general wellbeing. In particular it is used for memory loss, mood disorders and sleep therapy.
Another essential vitamin when you are detoxing is iron. Overuse of alcohol means issues with red blood cell production. This leads to anaemia or iron deficiency. Symptoms can cause fatigue, weakness or fainting and heart rate irregularities.
Iron supplements are easy to take and absorb well into the body. You can also try iron-rich foods such as lean meat, beans and dried fruit.
Used throughout your body magnesium can improve fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Alcohol misuse depletes magnesium levels through speeding up the bowel, poor nutrition and increased stress hormones, most of which rely on magnesium to be produced. One of the major problems is that lower magnesium means that thiamine deficiency comes hand in hand.
Thiamine needs magnesium in order to work and as explained above, alcohol overuse depletes magnesium therefore, thiamine deficiency raises its head. Symptoms of thiamine deficiency are related to brain damage, including confusion, sight issues and problems with movement.
Thiamine infusions are some of the best ways to improve this deficiency. They can be complemented with magnesium for maximum effect.
Known for its effect on heart health, omega 3 has numerous benefits for alcohol detox. It also reduces inflammation, and some evidence links it to reduced depression symptoms.
Traditional Chinese medicine used for thousands of years to deal with alcoholism and overdrinking. Kudzu speeds up the absorption of alcohol to the brain reducing the urge to drink more.
While it reduces the amount of drinking in a session, it does not show results for stopping completely.
Trials show that it is more effective in tablet form than in a spray.
There are several anti-alcohol supplement blends on the market in the UK. However, most of these are aimed at reducing liver damage for those who want to continue drinking too much. Life extension sells various multivitamins for this purpose.
Desistal is one of the few dedicated alcohol detox supplements on the UK market. It combines vitamins for mental and physical recovery from alcohol overuse. The tablets are twice daily and contain:
Bacopa Monnieri to improve your general mental wellbeing. Bacopa is included for its effect on GABA receptors and how it improves sleep and memory and reduces inflammation.
Apple cider vinegar to elevate mood. Studies have shown that those with depression and low mood may benefit from daily doses of ACV. Low mood is almost universal in alcohol detox, so this is a highly beneficial choice.
MCT oil to aid in gastric symptoms. Highly unpleasant and making the nutrition issue worse gastric symptoms of alcohol detox are multiple. MCT oil can help you to absorb nutrients better and improve your diet.
Drinking too much for too long disrupts your body’s functioning. Your body is depleted of vitamins and minerals, and it will likely take a while to settle.
Self-care is essential but not something that comes naturally to those who are used to focusing on alcohol. Take things easy for a while and try to treat your body well with a healthy diet and plenty of rest.
If you are in severe withdrawal and have any dangerous symptoms, including but not limited to shaking, hallucinations, fever and seizures, you will need a medically supervised detox. Vitamins listed here are not a replacement for a medical detox in cases of severe dependence.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542555/ Pellagrous encephalopathy presenting as alcohol withdrawal delirium: A case series and literature review
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278809/ Sobriety and Satiety: Is NAD+ the Answer?
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8622118/#:~:text=In%20conclusion%2C%20these%20data%20suggest,controlled%20conditions%20after%20four%20weeks. Daily Vinegar Ingestion Improves Depression Scores and Alters the Metabolome in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial