Alcoholism is characterized by a physiological and psychological addiction to the substance, which gradually occurs from chronic use changing brain chemistry. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that alcohol abuse and alcoholism impact nearly 18 million Americans in a given year. Upon cessation of alcohol use, the body undergoes withdrawal symptoms such as depression and anxiety, sleeplessness, and fatigue. In serious cases withdrawal includes seizures, hallucinations and an increase in body temperature. The primary method of managing withdrawal is medical and psychological intervention. Use of vitamins help as a supplement to medical care and should not replace physician-monitored treatment.
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Vitamins A and C
Deficiencies of vitamins A and C are common in people with alcoholism. Vitamin A is important for vision and nervous system health and vitamin C helps maintain your immune system. During alcohol withdrawal, your immune system health is compromised due to added stress, which hinders normal nervous system functions. The University of Michigan Health System suggests supplementing vitamin C to rid the body of excess alcohol during the initial withdrawal. The upper limit for daily vitamin C is 2,000 mg, however, medically supervised dose increase is advised before taking vitamin C exceeding the daily recommendation of 90 mg. Vitamin A, or beta-carotene supplements help to correct deficiencies during withdrawal, but due to potential liver damage from alcoholism, should only be taken under physician supervision.
Vitamins B1 and B2
Vitamin B1, or thiamin, and vitamin B2, or riboflavin, maintain cell health by processing nutrients from foods and converting carbohydrates, fats and proteins to usable energy. During alcohol withdrawal vitamin B1 aids in reducing fatigue, maintaining mental clarity and decreasing disorientation. Vitamin B2 reduces the severity of headaches and hand tremors associated with alcohol withdrawal. Doses of vitamin B1 or B2 exceeding the daily allowance of 1.2 mg are nontoxic and alcohol withdrawal symptoms are treated with doses up to 25 mg per day. However, taking excess doses of vitamin B1 should occur only under physician supervision.
Vitamins B3, B6 and B9
Vitamin B3 or niacin, metabolizes alcohol out of your body and regulates part of the stress-related hormones of the adrenal glands. Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine is significant in the production of the chemical serotonin, which induces calm during anxiety or depressive states and this vitamin helps regulate melatonin levels to induce sleep. Vitamin B9, or folate is important in cellular and brain health. Using vitamins B3, B6 and B9 in higher doses reduces alcohol cravings and anxious tension, as well as insomnia and mood fluctuations. Daily intake of vitamin B3 is 14 to 16 mg with an upper limit of 35 mg. The vitamin B6 daily intake is 1.4 mg with an upper limit of 100 mg and vitamin B9 is 400 mg with a limit of 1,000 mg. Consult your physician before exceeding the daily dose of these B vitamins for managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Using a multivitamin or B-complex vitamin during alcohol withdrawal is helpful for preventing malnourishment of nutrients. Most combination supplements have a higher standard dose for the individual vitamin. However, each vitamin serves a specific function in your body and should be adjusted to your specific symptoms. Under physician supervision, vitamin doses are adjusted to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms, while also taking into account any existing health problems requiring management.