Alex Du Toit
Alcohol is the world’s most socially acceptable recreational drug. Grab a glass of wine and unwind from a long day; have a BBQ and invite friends over for some beers; alcohol has its place in many people’s lives – but it doesn’t come without consequences to the body.
One of the major effects of alcohol on the body is it depletes the body’s magnesium levels, which causes all kinds of imbalances and symptoms. In fact, the depletion of magnesium levels from alcohol can contribute to the abuse of alcohol, because the side-effects of drinking such as depression and anxiety can result in drinking becoming habitual or an emotional crutch. As a result, many people find themselves using alcohol to try and navigate through the depression and anxiety that alcohol itself has caused or contributed to in their lives.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Drinking moderately is equal to one drink (12 oz.) per day for women and two drinks for men. Drinking in moderation can be safe and can cause reduced anxiety, relaxation, sociability and a feeling of being happy. Drinking more than this can put you at risk of all kinds of health problems. Alcohol in higher amounts can cause intoxication, questionable judgement, diminished motor function and lack of awareness. Long term use of alcohol at high doses can lead to alcohol dependence, abuse and sometimes death.
Alcohol is considered a depressant. A depressant is “a drug that lowers neurotransmission levels, which is to depress or reduce arousal or stimulation, in various areas of the brain.” It slows down breathing, heart rate and the parts of the brain that affect thinking and behaviour. The depressant part of alcohol is usually what causes the negative effects and consequences from drinking.
Too much alcohol consumption can lead to many health issues in the body. Alcohol prevents the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream leading to a deficiency in all nutrients, including magnesium. Alcohol severely affects the digestion system and can cause harm to the stomach and digestive lining causing an array of health problems.
Magnesium and the Body
Magnesium is the mineral responsible for organ function. Every organ in the body uses magnesium. It regulates 300 enzymes in the body. In general it is difficult for people to get enough magnesium from diet alone. Combining a low magnesium diet with alcohol at any level taps into the magnesium storage. Thus, it is common for people to be deficient in magnesium.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
• joint pain
• muscle aches
• insomnia or reduced sleep
• low energy
• restless leg syndrome
There have been a multitude of studies conducted linking magnesium to many roles in the overall function of the body. It is responsible for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. It contributes to bone health. 60% of magnesium found in the body is in the bone. Magnesium has anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces insulin resistance. It also helps prevent migraines, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, promotes good muscle strength, aids in weight loss, fights depression and enhances exercise performance.
The Link Between Alcohol and Magnesium
There have been many studies connecting alcohol use to the depletion of magnesium in the body. A study that was carried out in Finland in 1986 concluded that magnesium deficiency was common among alcoholics. Another study also concluded that magnesium deficiency was linked to alcohol abuse and health problems. The studies go on and on connecting alcohol use to magnesium deficiency. Drinking too much alcohol leads to an increase in the excretion of magnesium. Experts have claimed that the kidneys eliminate as much as 260% more magnesium within just a few minutes of consuming alcohol.
The more alcohol one drinks and the duration of time, the more the magnesium supplies in the body are depleted. This is why as you get older if alcohol has been a constant, presumably so will the increase in aches and pains, irritability, anxiety and depression. You will find that for those that alcohol has completely taken over their lives, they have little or no magnesium left in their bodies.
Ways To Get Magnesium in the Body
Supplements: Take a magnesium supplement of 300-450 mg/day.
Soak in Water: Soak in a bath of warm water with Epsom Salts and/or Magnesium Flakes. Magnesium will absorb through the skin.
Foods with Magnesium
• Black Beans
• Dark Chocolate
Magnesium on the Skin: Lather the skin with magnesium lotion or spray. The skin will absorb the magnesium. You can get lotion and spray at a store that carries natural products or you can make it yourself.
• ½ cup magnesium flakes
• 3 Tbsp boiling water
• ¼ cup coconut oil
• 2 Tbsp beeswax pastilles
• 3 Tbsp shea butter
• 1 quart mason jar
• 2 coffee mugs
1. Measure magnesium flakes into a mug. Fill another coffee mug with boiling water. Measure 3 Tbsp of boiling water into the mug with the flakes. Stir until the flakes are dissolved and set aside.
2. In the quart mason jar, measure coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter. Place the jar in a small pan filled with 1-2 inches of water. Place it on the stove and turn the heat to medium high.
3. Allow the solids to melt, swirling the jar occasionally when necessary.
4. When everything inside the jar is melted, remove it from the pan and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
5. Pour the dissolved magnesium into the quarter mason jar. If it solidifies upon contact, that’s ok.
6. Use a handheld blender to stir ingredients from the bottom of the jar. Blend everything together really well, moving the blender up and down along the sides of the jar as necessary to incorporate all the ingredients.
• This recipe makes about 8 ounces of lotion.
• Store at room temperature for up to 2 months.
Ingredients: • 1/2 cup magnesium chloride flakes
• 1/2 cup distilled water
• a glass bowl or glass measuring cup
• a glass spray bottle
1. Boil the distilled water.
2. Place the magnesium chloride flakes in the glass bowl or measuring cup and the pour the boiling water over it.
3. Stir well until completely dissolved.
4. Let cool completely and store in the spray bottle.
• Can be stored at room temperature for at least six months.
• If you don’t want to make it yourself here is a Magnesium Spray that you can buy!
On a personal note:
I have experienced magnesium deficiency associated with drinking too much alcohol that led me to have anxiety and depression. I discovered the link between magnesium and alcohol many years ago and I have been making sure I add magnesium in some form to my life ever since. It really helps me. When I forget, I can really tell the difference.