April is alcohol awareness month and I thought that it would be a good time for me to discuss this issue, as it affects so many lives throughout North America. Although the modest consumption of alcohol in various social settings may be normal and healthy behavior, there are some important things you should know about alcohol.
When you drink an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream from your stomach, which increases your blood levels of ethanol. Your liver is primarily responsible for removing this ethanol from your bloodstream, but as we age, the liver does not seem to be able to do this as effectively as it once did. This makes older people more vulnerable to the influences that alcohol has on your brain. One of the brain processes alcohol affects is motor skills—they become more difficult to perform.
This situation can be a problem because you may be more impaired than you realize—putting you more at risk for a serious fall or a traffic accident.
Alcohol can have an effect on your health, your family, and on society in general; however, it’s also very important to understand that the health risks associated with increased alcohol consumption are real. The increased health risks associated with alcohol consumption rise in a dose-dependent relationship. This means that the more alcohol you drink per day, the greater your risk becomes of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and liver diseases.
For instance, did you know that more than one drink per day can increase the risk of breast cancer in women? For every additional drink that you consume (after the recommended maximum of one drink per day), you have an eight percent increase in breast cancer risk!
In my opinion, this month you need to become aware of the effect that alcohol has on your body by practicing blood alcohol content training. This training combines information regarding alcohol intake and the subjective, behavioral cues you give off, indicating your degree of impairment. I know that this type of training can influence your decision-making relative to driving and performing other gross or fine motor skills.
If you’re a heavy drinker, or someone who enjoys more than one drink a day, you want to make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients:
- Multivitamins and mineral formula: If you are drinking alcohol on a regular basis, I would recommend taking a multivitamin and mineral formula containing at least 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 I.U. of vitamin E, a B-Complex formula, 300 mg of magnesium, 200 mcg of selenium, and 20 mg of zinc.
- L-Carnitine: This nutrient can protect your liver from the damaging effects alcohol can have by preventing the accumulation of fatty deposits in your liver. I recommend 200-300 mg of L-carnitine per day.
- Milk Thistle: This is an herbal product which contains an ingredient called silymarin that will help protect your body from the damaging effects of alcohol. Taking milk thistle in a supplement form can enhance the liver detoxification pathways for alcohol and limit any potential harm. The proper dosage is 200 mg of milk thistle extract taken one to three times per day. Try and find a supplement containing at least 80% silymarin.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Ballue, M., “Part two: Preventing alcohol problems,” National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence web site, March 28, 2013; http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/get-help/addiction-medicine/666-the-prevention-of-substance-use-disorders-2
“April is alcohol awareness month,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, April 6, 2011; http://www.cdc.gov/features/alcoholawareness/
Aston, E.R., et al., “Self-estimation of blood alcohol concentration: a review,” Addict Behav. April 2013; 38(4): 1944-51.
Murray, M., et al., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, (Prima Publishing, 1998): 211-220.