"...all doctors should be able to diagnose and treat nutritional deficiencies."

Royal College of Physicians. Nutrition and Patients: A Doctor's Responsibility. London 2002


This page has been printed from the www.stewartnutrition.co.uk web site.

Alcohol Excess

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Alcohol provides 3.9% of energy in British women and 6.5% in men aged 19 to 64 years.

Including a small amount of alcohol in a healthy, well-balanced diet may be mildly beneficial for those at risk of heart disease.  However approximately 35% of men in the above age range consume more than 21 units per week and 21% of women consume more than 14 units per week.  High intakes are usually associated with an increased risk of health problems including high blood pressure, strokes, liver disease, osteoporosis and many types of cancer.

Additionally high intakes of alcohol greatly increase the risk of deficiency of many nutrients particularly if the diet is poor as is more likely to be the case in young adults and those who are economically disadvantaged.

Common Alcohol-Induced Nutritional Deficiencies

  • Vitamin B1 – thiamine causing calf muscle pain on exercise, mood change, mental confusion, unsteadiness, loss of short-term memory and heart failure with leg swelling.  Uncorrected deficiency can lead to permanent neurological damage due to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. See Alcohol Access in Nutritional Emergencies.
  • Magnesium and potassium deficiencies ,which may cause fatigue and muscle pain and contribute to alcohol- induced hypertension
  • Folate deficiency which can cause depression, irritability as well as increasing the risk of breast cancer
  • Zinc deficiency which can cause night-blindness, male sterility, skin changes and poor immunity
  • Calcium and vitamin D resulting in osteoporosis.

www.ias.org.uk  The web site of the Institute of Alcohol Studies an independent source of information.

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Copyright Dr. Alan Stewart M.B.B.S.M.R.C.P. (UK)M.F. Hom.
47 Priory Street, Lewes, East Sussex. BN7 1HJ
Tel 01273 487003 Fax: 01273 487576