Minimize the unwanted side effects of alcohol with these nutritional supplements
06/17/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Drinking alcohol in small to moderate amounts can be beneficial to the heart, but it can also cause unwanted side effects. When you drink alcohol, the ethanol breaks down the toxic compound called acetaldehyde. This compound is the reason you get a hangover after excessive alcohol consumption. In addition to morning-after headaches and shakiness, acetaldehyde also binds to DNA, causing mutations that trigger cancer. It also produces reactive oxygen species that cause inflammation and encourage tumor development. Lastly, this toxic compound diminishes amounts of essential vitamins, at the same time interferes with the natural antioxidant defense systems of the body.

Fortunately, there are nutritional supplements that help mitigate the side effects of alcohol. These include the following:

  • B-vitamins – Consuming alcohol depletes vitamins B6 and B1, which are important for fighting oxidation. Alcohol also affects folic acid, a form of vitamin B9, which is responsible for suppressing cancer genes called proto-oncogenes. Therefore, nutritional supplements of the vitamin B complex are important to reduce the risk of cancer. Moreover, health experts suggest that taking a B-complex supplement, together with 100 milligrams (mg) of thiamine, helps protect the nervous system whenever you drink alcohol.
  • Barley grass extracts – Barley grass is a fiber-rich grain that contains extracts that prevent gastrointestinal tumors, according to an animal study. Barley grass also contains lunasin, which is a specific cancer-preventing protein. Barley grass is also a prebiotic that serves as food for good gut bacteria and helps ward off colon cancer.
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  • Benfotiamine – Benfotiamine, a fat-soluble form of thiamine, is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cell damage and neutralizes the harmful effects of acetaldehyde. It also works better for increasing thiamine levels after alcohol consumption than thiamine alone.
  • Chlorophyllin – Chlorophyllin, the water-soluble form of chlorophyll, is a natural compound that binds to carcinogens and toxins, removing them from the body before they can harm DNA. It is particularly protective against liver cancer, which is often caused by excessive alcohol intake.
  • Grape seed extracts – Grape seed extracts are rich in powerful antioxidants called proanthocyanins. They can also prevent oxidative damage to tissues and cells caused by alcohol.
  • Methionine – This amino acid supports the liver and produces s-adenosylmethionine, which helps restore antioxidant glutathione in alcohol-damaged cells. It also helps treat liver disease together with folate and vitamins B6 and B12.
  • N-acetyl-cysteine – N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. This derivative binds to acetaldehyde to get rid of its detrimental effects while boosting levels of glutathione, which is the body's prime antioxidant. NAC is best taken before drinking alcohol although it can also be helpful when taken afterward.
  • Resveratrol – Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, cranberries, and red wine, is well-known for its heart health benefits. It also prevents cancer by protecting and mending damage cell DNA before cancerous changes can begin.
  • Selenium – This essential trace mineral offers antioxidant properties and reduces precancerous tissue development. Selenium can reduce liver cancer risk by as much as 50 percent. Regular alcohol consumption depletes selenium levels in the body, which is why it is essential to take selenium supplements.
  • Silymarin – Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, hinders the conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde. It also protects the DNA from cancer-causing damage, especially when drinking alcohol.
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C can minimize the side effects of alcohol consumption, however, alcohol decreases vitamin C levels in the body. The vitamin is also a strong antioxidant that can protect brain cells from alcohol's side effects. It also reduces inflammation-inducing substances that alcohol's toxic metabolites increase.

The list does not mean that you should drink alcohol as much as you like. It is best to limit your alcohol consumption to up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

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