Most of the American adults estimates to consume alcohol, with about 5% suffering from chronic alcoholism. There is a major difference between the occasional to moderate alcohol consumption and the type of alcohol abuse that might result in liver disease. Because our bodies and metabolic systems are diverse, the boundary between use and misuse may seem different for each person. Alcohol is a major cause of folate deficiency, and there has been concern for many years about the level of alcohol consumption by pregnant women. There are now tools available to test for folate levels in women who drink alcohol and avoid folic acid supplements during pregnancy. One such tool is the 100 bp ladder, which is used to test whether alcohol’s affect on folate absorption can be detected by using a sequencing technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
Is it true that alcohol depletes or causes a deficiency in folate?
It’s true. Folate insufficiency recognises as a clinical characteristic of alcoholism, and scientists have discovered how alcohol hinders good folate. When a healthy individual takes folate (vitamin B-9)-containing meals or supplements, it must first transform into a form that absorbs the bloodstream via the small intestine’s walls. The blood then transports folate to the liver, where it reabsorbs. The kidneys regulate and control the excretion of excess folate in the urine.
There are several reasons why a person’s folate levels will likely decline if they consume too much alcohol for their body type daily. First, studies have revealed that the small intestine absorbs much less folate from the diet when a person abuses alcohol. Second, the liver absorbed significantly less folate from the small intestine, implying that the folate brought unlike to be adequately digested for usage throughout the body.
What Is the Impact of Folate Deficiency on the Body?
It’s difficult to diagnose folate deficiency without a blood test, but that’s not because it’s a non-essential nutrient. Folate is used by every cell in the body. In critical metabolic processes, it can be a rate-limiting factor. One of the most important steps in the process of your cells splitting and developing to replace old, damaged cells is correctly replicating the DNA that will provide instructions for the new partition and subsequent cells. DNA cannot duplicate without folate and its coenzymes. The appropriate genes for continuing growth and function will not express.
Furthermore, a lack of folate can lead to megaloblastic anaemia, a condition in which your body produces fewer, larger, and malformed red blood cells. It is not as efficient at transporting oxygen as regular red blood cells. This disorder can make you feel constantly ill, tired, pale, and depressed.
Because the foetus’ cells divide and expand at such a rapid rate, folate is especially important during pregnancy. Chronic and heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy reduces folate transport to the foetus. Low folate levels in the placenta and foetus could contribute to the pathologies seen in children with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
If I drink alcohol, can I take folate supplements?
Alcoholic beverages and folate supplements are unlikely to cause an instant negative effect. However, if you want to drink, you should be aware that alcohol may hinder folate absorption. Folate does not help your body heal from the effects of alcohol. You should continue to get your daily dose of folate and consider taking a supplement with L-methylfolate.
Halsted, Charles H., et al.10+ “Metabolic interactions of alcohol and folate.” The Journal of Nutrition 132.8 (2002): 2367S-2372S.
Higdon, Jane. “Folate”. Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute‘s Micronutrient Information Center. Last updated June, 2014. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/folate#reference12
Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Folate Deficiency Anemia”. Johns Hopkins Health: Conditions and Diseases. Accessed Nov 18, 2019. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/folate-deficiency-anemia
Hutson, Janine R., et al. “Folic acid transport to the human fetus is decreased in pregnancies with chronic alcohol exposure.” PloS one 7.5 (2012): e38057.