The holidays are full of celebrating. With this extra celebrating comes the potential to drink more and to experience the effects of alcohol.  While alcohol can add to the festivities, remember that tipsy feeling is a sign that alcohol is having an impact on your brain and body and may need some extra protection.

Drinking alcohol in moderation does have some health benefits. Several reliable research studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake (one drink a day for women, two for men) can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, increase protective HDL cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.

On the other hand, alcohol consumption also has negative effects on health. Alcohol consumption has been linked to cancer, especially colorectal, bladder, and ovarian. It is also very toxic to our brain, nervous system and liver. Over time, alcohol damages the liver and can result in cirrhosis, or hardening of the liver, and liver cancer.

The jury is still out on whether or not the pros of drinking alcohol outweigh the cons. If you choose to have a drink or two during the holidays, make sure you are taking these nutrients to protect your body from the negative effects of alcohol.

1. Zinc – Zinc is a critical mineral for many functions of the body.  It protects against alcohol-induced liver damage1 by increasing the enzyme that clears alcohol and by boosting the antioxidant levels in the liver.  Alcohol is a diuretic that causes water-soluble nutrients to get flushed out of the body. Zinc is one of those nutrients. It is important to replenish zinc stores to maintain the protective effects of this important nutrient. 

2. Acetyl-L-Carnitine – Alcohol intake injures the brain and accelerates the onset of cognitive decline and other neurological disease. A variety of animal experiments show that acetyl-l-carnitine can protect the brain from the highly damaging effects of alcohol excess. Acetyl-L-Carnitine has also been shown to be highly protective to nerves and the blood brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier can be damaged by chronic alcohol consumption and lead to reduced learning ability, memory decline, cognitive decline, depression, and any neurologic disease.

3. Pantethine – Like acetyl-L-carnitine, pantethine helps preserve the integrity of your blood-brain barrier, and reduces stress on the nervous system. Plus, pantethine helps activate an enzyme that clears aldehydes, the waste products of alcohol consumption. Aldehydes cause brain fog and a hung-over feeling that can occur after consuming alcohol.

4. Tocotrienols – Excess alcohol consumption causes inflammation in nerves.  This leads to damage and over time, cognitive dysfunction. Tocotrienol vitamin E can reduce nerve damage, oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.  This specific form is superior to plain d alpha tocopherol in reducing alcohol-induced nerve damage.

5. Silymarin – Silymarin (milk thistle) is a flavonoid herb that protects the body from oxidative stress. It is especially protective of the liver, but also of the brain and kidneys. Silymarin is widely used around the world as a treatment for liver disease, acute poisoning, and alcohol-related liver damage.

Christmas parties, happy hours and celebrations are oh-so-common during the Holidays. Alcohol is often a staple at these celebrations. If you like to enjoy a drink or two during the holiday season make sure you are protecting your brain, nervous system and liver from the harmful effects of alcohol. Keep it the happiest season of all and enjoy responsibly!