Alcohol depletes a wide range of nutrients, including B vitamins -which are responsible for helping cellular respiration and energy production. Your body uses these nutrient stockpiles to help metabolize the complex sugar structure alcohol has into several more "benign" substances.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is crucial in the production of body energy. It is a cofactor for an enzyme called glutathione reductase, which helps maintain glutathione, a major protector against free radical damage. Vitamin B2 itself also has antioxidant qualities. Thus riboflavin is pivotal both in the inner breathing of our cells where energy is produced and also in the quenching of the toxic exhausts of that inner, energy producing cell respiration. Riboflavin is water soluble and so is not stored in significant quantities in the body. It must be replaced continuously through diet or supplementation to avoid deficiency. The most common cause of riboflavin deficiency is an unbalanced diet.
The elderly may be at risk for deficiency due to sub-optimal intake. Riboflavin deficiency is common in alcoholics as well. Those who indulge in a great deal of physical exercise may need extra riboflavin, particularly women.
Riboflavin deficiency mainly affects skin and mucous membranes. Symptoms include cracks in the corners of the mouth, cracks on the lips, reddening of the tongue associated with a burning sensation and eczema of the face and genitals. When there is a deficiency of riboflavin there is usually a lack of the other B vitamins as well.
Vitamin B3, also called niacin, niacinamide, or nicotinic acid, is an essential nutrient required by all humans for the proper metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as for the production of hydrochloric acid for digestion. B-3 also supports proper blood circulation, healthy skin, and aids in the functioning of the central nervous system. Niacin also has a role in supporting the higher functions of the brain and cognition. Lastly, adequate levels of B-3 are vital for the proper synthesis of insulin and the sex hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.
The most important function of vitamin B-5 is as an essential component in the production of coenzyme A, a vital catalyst that is required for the conversion of carbohydrates, fats, and protein into energy. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) is also referred to as an anti-stress vitamin due to its vital role in the formation of various adrenal hormones, steroids, and cortisone, as well as contributing to the production of important brain neuro-transmitters such as acetylcholine. In addition to helping to fight depression vitamin B-5 also supports the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and is required for the production of cholesterol, bile, vitamin D, red blood cells, and antibodies.
B-6 is recommended for support of the female cycle and nervous system. It also is important for skin integrity and has a role in metabolizing homocysteine, therefore supports the health of the heart.
Experts agree that the essential nutrient vitamin B-12 supports energy and memory, appetite (when needed) and digestion. It is an absolute must for the maintenance of a healthy nervous system and is considered by many to play an important role as an anti-aging nutrient. Many of the functions of vitamin B-12, such as building blood cells, promoting DNA synthesis, naturally interfering with inflammation and strengthening the immune system are fundamental to a healthy body. Thousands of doctors have given vitamin B-12 to help people cope with stress and exhaustion, to name only a few.