Published on March 24, 2023
Important information you can share about how nutrient status and health are influenced by drug and alcohol use and addiction, and vice versa.
- Drug and alcohol intake can dramatically influence the status of certain nutrients by affecting their absorption, utilization, metabolism, and more; interestingly, certain nutrient deficiencies can also influence the risk of dependency and addiction
- Alcoholism is the most common cause of magnesium imbalance; one study showed that the higher the intake of alcohol, the lower the magnesium and selenium levels, indicating that no matter how much alcohol is consumed, any amount may affect the status of these two essential elements
- A study found an inverse, dose-dependent association between vitamin D levels and self-reported opioid use, independent of pain, with decreased frequency of opioid use among individuals with higher vitamin D levels, and a 47% lower risk of opioid use among those with a vitamin D level of 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L) or higher compared to those with levels below 12 ng/ml (30 nmol/L)
This week is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW), an annual health observance week to encourage discussions about the science of drug use and addiction among youth. Participation is encouraged through sharing facts about drugs, alcohol, and addiction with those you love and care about, and others in your community.
Substance misuse and overdose has become a growing crisis. Alcohol use has especially risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic; one study on adults in the United States indicated a large increase in alcohol intake during COVID, with 1/3 of their participants having reported binge drinking and 7% reporting extreme binge drinking over the study period. The use of opioid drugs has also risen over the most recent couple of years, making it increasingly important to identify avoidable risk factors for opioid dependence and abuse.
Drug and alcohol intake can dramatically influence the status of certain nutrients by affecting their absorption, utilization, metabolism, and more. Alcohol use in particular is known to deplete specific nutrients in the body. Interestingly, certain nutrient deficiencies can also influence the risk of dependency and addiction.
Below are several articles for you to share this week on this important topic. Please take a moment to read each article and share those you find useful using the share buttons in the upper right hand corner of each article.
Nutrients Affected by Drinking Alcohol
In fact, alcoholism is the most common cause of magnesium imbalance. One study showed that the higher the intake of alcohol, the lower the magnesium and selenium levels, indicating that no matter how much alcohol is consumed, any amount may affect the status of these two essential elements.
Chronic alcohol intake is also associated with low levels of zinc, folate, B vitamins, and vitamin C.
Deficiencies of fat soluble vitamins A, D, and E have also been reported as more likely being deficient among alcoholics compared to non-alcoholics, especially among those with liver and/or pancreatic disease. One study in particular found that 58% of heavy alcohol drinkers had deficient levels of vitamin D (below 20 ng/ml or 50 nmol/L).
Low Vitamin D Levels Can Increase Risk of Opioid Use and Addiction
In order to evaluate vitamin D deficiency as a contributing factor to opioid addiction, a study by Kemeny et al. used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 2003-2004) to group individuals by vitamin D level and compare vitamin D levels to opioid use. They found an inverse, dose-dependent association between vitamin D levels and self-reported opioid use, independent of pain, with decreased frequency of opioid use among individuals with higher vitamin D levels, and a 47% lower risk of opioid use among those with a vitamin D level of 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L) or higher compared to those with levels below 12 ng/ml (30 nmol/L).
Another analysis looked at the risk of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and how it was related to the presence or history of vitamin D deficiency. This time, the authors used data from 163,531 primary care patients, among which 2772 OUD cases were identified and matched to 8265 controls. They found that patients with OUD were much more likely to have vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency (levels below 20 ng/ml or 50 nmol/L), where 28% of OUD cases had a most recent vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml, versus only 17% of controls (P<0.001). OUD cases were also less likely to have a vitamin D level of at least 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/L) and were more likely to have had vitamin D deficiency compared to controls.
Could Recovery be Aided by Addressing Nutrient Deficiencies?
Vitamin D can improve self-perceived measurements of mental and emotional wellness; improvements have been positively associated with higher vitamin D levels
Vitamin D in combination with omega-3s can contribute to especially significant improvements in depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep scores; in one study, supplementing with both had a greater effect on anxiety, stress, and sleep than either on its own or placebo
Magnesium supplementation has demonstrated rapid and significant reductions in stress with a 24% greater improvement in stress in those receiving magnesium with vitamin B6; Zinc and the copper to zinc ratio have also been correlated with anxiety and depression
Could addressing nutrient deficiencies also help with addiction and the recovery process?
What is Your Nutrient Status?
- Vitamin D
- Magnesium PLUS Elements
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Did you know that each of the above can be measured at home using a simple blood spot test? As part of our ongoing research project, you can order your home blood spot test kit to get your levels, followed by education and steps to take to help you reach your optimal target levels. Start by enrolling and ordering your kit to measure each of the above important markers, and make sure you are getting enough of each to support better mood and wellbeing!
Build your custom kit here – be sure to include your Omega-3 Index (Only or with Ratios), Magnesium PLUS Elements, and hsCRP along with your vitamin D.
How Can You Use this Information for YOUR Health?
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!
STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements (zinc, copper, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury); include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health
STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study
STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools (such as our dose calculators), assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there
STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level(s)