Vitamin Deficiencies Caused by Alcohol Abuse

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab Alcohol Addiction , Alcohol Detox December 1, 2021

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab Vitamin Deficiencies Caused by Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol and B Vitamin Deficiency

It’s well known that heavy alcohol consumption has the potential for multiple damaging effects on your body, your organs, and your overall healthy functioning. What is not always common knowledge is how alcohol abuse can quickly deplete your body of the necessary vitamins and nutrients it needs to function normally and effectively. As your liver works to metabolize the alcohol you’re consuming, your nutrient levels become depleted and your body pulls from your bloodstream to get the nutrients it needs to function normally, ultimately, causing a deficiency within your system. 

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B Vitamins Depleted by Alcohol

Regular alcohol consumption creates significant damage to your body’s ability to function in a healthy manner. Some of the vitamin deficiencies caused by alcohol abuse include:

Vitamin B1- Thiamine

Thiamine deficiency increases feelings of depression and can cause neurological disorders while also increasing the chances of cardiac arrest. 

Vitamin B2- Riboflavin

Riboflavin deficiencies will often result in an increase in symptoms of depression.

Vitamin B3- Niacin

If experiencing Niacin deficiency, you may experience an increase in anxiety, depression, apprehension, and fatigue.

Vitamin B12

B-12 plays a major role in energy and assisting in treating depression.

What is Thiamine?

Thiamine is also known as vitamin B1 which is essential for all tissues within the body including the brain. It is found in and needed by your skeletal muscles and critical organs. Your body is unable to produce thiamine on its own and relies on certain foods to gain the nutrients needed from this essential vitamin. Thiamine is often found in foods such as whole grains, poultry, pork, nuts, and peas. Thiamine is one of the major vitamin deficiencies caused by alcohol abuse.

How Alcohol Depletes B Vitamins Like Thiamine

Consuming alcohol often depletes an individual’s levels of thiamine within their body for the following reasons:

  • For someone who’s abusing alcohol, eating a healthy, balanced diet is often not the first priority. Often healthy foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals are not consumed.
  • Alcohol affects your cells ability to uptake certain vitamins.
  • Your body’s cells will have a reduced ability to to effectively use thiamine due to alcohol consumption.
  • Alcohol use inhibits your body’s ability to fully absorb nutrients. 

Health Risks of B Vitamin Deficiency

When you are deficient in the B vitamins it can create new health concerns and risks that would not have been there if you were getting sufficient supplies of vitamin B. Health concerns that you are at risk of if you have a vitamin B deficiency are:

  • Heart disease caused by thiamine deficiency 
  • Increase risk for cardiovascular concerns such as cardiac arrest or stroke, and megaloblastic anemia 
  • Deficiencies in energy production 
  • Metabolic system affected 
  • Heightened risk of breast cancer in women 

Nervous System Health

As your body experiences a lack of B vitamins, the risks that you are exposing your body to are significant and can be severely damaging. Studies have shown that vitamin B deficiency can increase the chance of severe brain damage because nerve cells need thiamine to function properly. In some cases, it has been shown that a lack of thiamine is responsible for patients experiencing cerebellar degeneration which often impacts a person’s cognitive functioning, muscle function, and movement abilities, and even movements related to your senses such as involuntary eye movements. 


Patients that experience significant B vitamin deficiencies will develop Wernicke-Korsakoff, a serious brain disorder that affects individuals in two ways. One way is experiencing encephalopathy symptoms which affect your brain’s overall ability to function and a prolonged condition known as Korsakoff Psychosis. 

Encephalopathy affects the individual by creating a sense of paralysis around the nerves in the eyes. This often results in confusion and impaired movements within the eyes and lower extremities. 

Korsakoff psychosis will affect patients with a chronic learning disability that impairs the individual’s ability to learn. Often resulting in memory problems and significant behavioral concerns. It is often challenging for individuals to retain new information and will easily forget things or what they were doing. 

Dietary Recommendations for People with Alcohol Use Disorder

If you are living with an active alcohol use disorder, your best option is to seek effective alcohol detox and rehabilitation treatment. In the meantime, there are steps you can take to maintain your sufficient levels of vitamin intake and avoid any depletions in these essential vitamins. Choosing to make healthy food choices within your diet will ensure that you are consuming and absorbing a sufficient amount of vitamins to keep your body effectively functioning and moving. 

Here are some diet recommendations that will maintain a healthy intake of vitamins and minerals:

  • Eat 3 healthy meals a day 
  • Avoid any junk food 
  • Avoid consuming foods with white flour or white sugar
  • Make healthy eating choices by eating the full rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables. This will give you a healthy, balanced diet full of the essential vitamins and nutrients that you need. 
  • Drink an adequate amount of water daily 
  • Try to avoid any caffeine or nicotine consumption 

Alcohol Rehabs that Treat Nutrient Deficiencies

Exclusive Hawaii Rehab places an emphasis on nutritional therapy for all of our patients whether they are here for alcohol rehab, drug rehab, an eating disorder or a combination of these. Studies have shown that a healthy, balanced diet actually works to increase your chances of addiction recovery while also fueling your body full of the nutrients and vitamins it needs to sustain itself. Our four onsite chefs, full-time dietician, and naturopathic doctor will work closely with you to give you the balanced, nutritious diet you need to truly heal from the inside out during your time in rehab. 

Experience True Healing

Our deeply-caring staff and the surrounding natural beauty offer an unparalleled healing experience.