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hand pouring alcohol, which can deplete vitamins when consumed chronically

What vitamins are depleted by alcohol?

Heavy drinking can cause low levels of many nutrients needed for optimal health. Learn what vitamins are depleted by alcohol.

Alcohol depletes nutrients in three major ways: decreasing nutrient consumption, enhancing malabsorption, and increasing excretion. Below is a list of some critical minerals and vitamins depleted by alcohol.

Vitamin C

Since 1978, studies have reported an association between alcoholism and depleted Vitamin C, sometimes even scurvy. In one study, short-term IV Vitamin C improved serum levels in alcoholics with depleted vitamin C, but it didn’t last and other studies showed 3 months of supplementation was needed to maintain normal blood levels. Other studies note increased Vitamin C excretion with alcohol consumption. Alcohol may also interfere with Vitamin C absorption in the pancreas.

When this vitamin is depleted by alcohol, it can interfere with immune function.


Heavy drinking can increase magnesium excretion, depleting magnesium. Up to 50% of patients hospitalized for reasons relating to alcohol are deficient in magnesium. Alcohol withdrawal patients frequently have low magnesium. 

Magnesium is required for 300+ processes in the body, from brain to muscles.


Chronic drinkers often have low levels of the antioxidant mineral selenium.


Alcohol abuse is associated with depleted zinc. In a study on rats, 8 months of exposure to alcohol depleted zinc in the brain. This mineral is important for proper eye and immune system health.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

B vitamins are depleted by alcohol, including thiamine (B1), which is needed for carbohydrate metabolism. And that’s a big problem when consuming all the excess carbs in alcoholic beverages. In the developed world, alcoholism is the leading cause of thiamine deficiency, and is reported in up to 80% of alcoholics. 

Vitamin B6

Alcohol depletes B6 by interfering with conversion to the useable form and destroying the vitamin in certain types of red blood cells. Vitamin B6 is essential for nervous system function.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Another of the B vitamins depleted by alcohol is the mighty folate (B9), with deficiency reported in up to 80% of alcoholics. While some of it has to do with poor diet, researchers claim that alcohol causes the liver to leak folate into the blood, causing excretion without absorption.

Biotin (Vitamin B7)

A lot of alcohol a lot of the time can interfere with absorption of skin-supporting vitamin biotin by interfering with absorption.

Vitamin B12

And yet another of the critical B vitamins depleted by alcohol, B12 was low in healthy women consuming normal amounts of alcohol.

When minerals and vitamins are depleted by alcohol, there can be health consequences. These nutrients are essential for everything from metabolism to brain health.