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As hangovers get worse the older we get, the quest to find a more effective hangover remedy intensifies. You’ve probably tried drinking water and taking painkillers without much success.
B complex vitamins are essential for many of your body’s essential metabolic functions and are included in high doses in hangover pills.
But do are B complex vitamins actually good for hangovers?
In this article, we’re going to take a close look at the science to see if they work and whether they could be beneficial to add to your hangover recovery regime.
What do B complex vitamins do?
There are a total of 8 B vitamins that make up the B complex group. They are water-soluble vitamins which means they are dissolvable in water and are readily available for your cells to take up.
At the same time, this means that you aren’t able to store B vitamins well because of their solubility.
The exception to this rule is vitamin B12 and folate which your liver is able to store for around 3 years and 4 months respectively.
B vitamins are essential for life and you should get enough from your diet if you have a balanced diet. To put it simply, they are involved in several metabolic processes that allow your liver to break down food into energy, as well as maintain the normal functioning of your nervous system.
Are B complex vitamins important when drinking alcohol?
Alcohol is actually an energy source. Your liver breaks it down to produce energy. Particularly important B vitamins for this process include vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6
These B vitamins work as cofactors that facilitate the enzymes that breakdown alcohol. During periods of over-indulgence, the enzymes become saturated and therefore can’t function optimally.
This leads to a buildup of toxic by-products of alcohol metabolism such as acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is highly unstable and breaks down to form free-radicals.
It’s known that B vitamins help to regenerate these enzymes and therefore reduce the stress caused by alcohols toxic by-products.
So now that we’ve got the science out the way, let’s take a look at whether B vitamins can help with hangover recovery or prevention.
Do B vitamins help with hangovers?
An interesting study on intoxicated patients attending a US emergency department found that bing drinking resulted in vitamin B1 deficiency. They also found no change in B12 levels but unfortunately, they didn’t look at all the other B vitamins.
Generally speaking, there haven’t been any studies looking at the effectiveness of vitamin B supplementation on improving or preventing hangover symptoms.
However, it’s clear that your body’s expenditure of these vitamins goes up massively during periods of over-indulgence.
There are countless hangover supplements on the market with almost all of them containing a selection of B vitamins to alleviate the symptoms of a hangover. With many of them having thousands of positive reviews.
So, the jury’s out on whether B vitamins help with hangovers and the evidence is based on positive personal experiences with it.
Which B vitamins are best for hangovers?
There are some B vitamins which are likely to be much more useful for hangovers compared to others.
As mentioned before, vitamin B12 and vitamin B9 (Folate) is unlikely to be useful for the regular healthy drinker. By this, we mean someone who drinks in moderation and not on a daily basis.
The reason is, a balanced diet will mean that you should have at least several months, if not years, of stores of these two B vitamins.
Therefore, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6 are more beneficial as you don’t have reserves. In addition, they are known to be especially important in alcohol metabolism and studies have shown levels of these vitamins to drop.
What’s the best way to take B Vitamins for hangovers?
If you’re considering trying B vitamins to support your alcohol related health, it’s best to take them before your hangover has set in.
By the time you’ve already got a pounding headache and feeling rough, it’s far too late.
If B vitamins are going to do anything, it’s essential that they’re available for your liver to use during your night out or at the very latest, straight after your last drink.
Do B Vitamins work as a hangover cure?
B vitamins may help aid your recovery, however, they’re certainly not a miracle hangover cure.
If you’re planning on getting wasted and then take some B vitamins to wake up feeling fresh, you’re going to be very disappointed.
Anything else to consider?
When it comes to hangovers, prevention is key. Taking the right steps to give your body the best fighting chance is very important.
Drinking within your limits, pacing yourself, keeping well hydrated and having a meal before going out will go a long way in reducing the most severe hangovers.
It’s important to reiterate that a hangover cure doesn’t exist but there are natural options available like B vitamins which can support your recovery.
That brings us to the end of our look into whether B vitamins are good for hangovers.
They are essential for the metabolic processes which break down alcohol and studies have shown levels of some of the B complex vitamins to drop during periods of overindulgence.
Whether they prevent or help hangover symptoms hasn’t been formal studies.
However, there are many people who see benefit from taking B-vitamins for hangovers. It’s important to take them during or straight after your night out for best results.
In addition to B vitamins, there are several other natural vitamins and minerals which could also help with hangover recovery too.