This summer, our every day energy levels could be hit hard, but not simply because we’re filling our days with more…
One habit could deplete the body of the key nutrients we need to in order for our bodies to generate energy and feel focused, meaning the post-lockdown energy slump could be exacerbated - that habit, is drinking alcohol.
Here, our in-house Nutritional Expert, Keeley Berry, has shared the importance of mindful nutrition, and how elevating levels of key nutrients could help fight feelings of fatigue during a summer of social drinking.
Depletion of key nutrients: B-vitaminsResearch shows that alcohol can dramatically impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the diet. In particular, B-vitamins are most at risk of depletion and those that have chronic alcohol consumption are very likely to become deficient.
Vitamin B12, folate and vitamin B6 deficiencies can lead to high levels of homocysteine; a protein which can attack the cardiovascular system. This is because these three B-vitamins are crucial for keeping the homocysteine cycle in check and generating energy through various interlinking pathways in the body.
Deficiencies in vitamins that feed into these pathways have domino-like effects that can leave us feeling tired. That means you need to ensure you're intaking the recommended intake of B12 per day to see benefits.
What’s more, vitamin B12 in particular, is known to support cognitive function, making us feel switched-on and able to focus. So, as alcohol consumption contributes to the risk of B12 deficiency in the body, we can begin to feel what’s known as ‘brain fog’.
Harmful excess: Alcohol and iron
Interestingly, when it comes to iron – a mineral that plays a vital role in fighting fatigue – there are actually two ways to look at how our body’s levels are affected with alcohol consumption.
For those having a moderate amount of alcohol, our iron levels can be positively benefitted, as alcohol enables the body to retain its stores (thus preventing a deficiency). That being said, alcohol should not be used as a treatment for mild iron deficiencies as there are a whole host of potentially harmful effects that come with drinking, that outweigh this benefit.
Adversely, chronic and binge drinkers should be aware that too much alcohol, paired with too much iron can lead to health implications. One of the symptoms iron overload amongst excessive alcohol consumption is actually tiredness and fatigue. This is because iron has oxidizing capacity, which causes it to form into free radicals. Free radicals generated from iron overload and direct alcohol consumption impair mitochondrial function - making our body’s cells sluggish.
Natural energy enhancers: Smart supplementation
For sustainable energy levels, it’s important to consume water-soluble vitamins daily, as the body doesn’t retain them well. Although some storage will be achieved in the liver, many circulating vitamins will be excreted through urine and, whether you’re drinking alcohol occasionally or every day, your levels will be affected.
If you know you are likely to drink to excess this summer, it’s important to receive a steady, daily dose of iron rather than one large, loading dose. This will help to support energy levels in a safe way, preventing the body from going into ‘defence mode’ or prompting free radicals to form.
For those that struggle to obtain enough B-vitamins or iron through diet alone, supplementation may be needed. An oral spray - such as BetterYou’s Boost B12 Oral Spray or Iron Oral Spray – offers an effective, pill-free alternative to traditional tablets and capsules, as the mechanism allows nutrients to be absorbed via the inner cheek, bypassing primary processing in the gut.