Herbs & Vitamins to Aid with Alcoholism
September 22, 2012 | Written by : LIVESTRONG.com
Alcoholism results in a loss of nutrients because alcoholics tend to neglect their diet and choose unhealthy foods high in fats and sugars. A study of 15,000 American adults found that an increase in alcoholic beverage consumption causes poor food choices, the National Institutes of Health notes. Herbs and vitamins along with a return to a nutritional diet can help recovering alcoholics replace their depleted nutrients.
Taking herbs under the supervision of a doctor may aid with alcoholic recovery. Milk thistle may provide a substantial health benefit, based on consistent scientific data, the University of Michigan Health System explains. The herb may provide improvement in treating alcoholic liver disease. Its effectiveness during alcoholic withdrawal has not been substantiated. Kudzu may work to reduce alcohol cravings. Kudzu has been used traditionally as an herb or supplement, but has little scientific support.
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The B vitamins and vitamins A, C, D and E help alcoholics during recovery. Obtaining vitamins through meals or supplements can play an important part in replacing lost nutrients, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Recovering alcoholics have had irregular eating habits for a long time and may mistake hunger for alcohol cravings. Encouragement to schedule their meals regularly avoids confusing hunger symptoms. A healthy diet for recovery includes protein, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber in low-fat meals.
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A combination of vitamin C, the B vitamin niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin E significantly reduces anxiety for alcoholics within three weeks of use, according to researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Side effects may occur with high amounts of vitamins, so people should consult with a doctor when using a vitamin regimen, the University of Michigan Health System notes.
Doctors may prescribe thiamine, or vitamin B1, supplements during the recovery process, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Thiamine deficiencies can occur in long-term alcoholics. The deficiencies can lead to serious brain disorders that cause mental impairment. Deficiencies in vitamin A may also occur with alcoholism. High doses of vitamin A, however, may cause further damage to the liver, which is why vitamin intake during recovery needs a doctor's supervision. Doctors may also prescribe supplements that include minerals selenium, magnesium and zinc.
Dietary sources of B vitamins include meat, poultry, fish, nuts, brown rice, whole-grain cereals, milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Fruits and vegetables with B vitamins include bananas, dried apricots and figs, broccoli, asparagus and potatoes. Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries, oranges, mango, kiwi, broccoli and peas. Dairy products, chicken, liver, mackerel, trout and herring have high amounts of vitamin A. Dairy products, fish oil and liver contain vitamin D. Foods high in vitamin E include avocados, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, Brussels sprouts, blackberries, olive oil, corn oil, nuts, whole-grain foods, mackerel and salmon.