An alcoholic beverage is a drink which contains a substantial amount of the psychoactive drug ethanol (informally called alcohol). Drinking alcohol plays an important social role in most cultures. Alcohol has potential for abuse and physical dependence.
The alcohol content in alcoholic beverages are measured in units of alcohol in the UK, and in standard drinks in other parts of the world, including Australia, USA, Canada and New Zealand. One unit of alcohol equals 10 millilitres or 8 grams of pure alcohol. A healthy adult will usually metabolise one unit of alcohol per hour, although that figure may vary greatly depending on age, weight, gender, health and many other factors.
The consumption of alcohol may lead to various health related issues, particularly as a result of long term and/or excessive intake.
Alcohol affects the metabolism of sugar in a few ways. For instance, adequate blood levels of insulin allows sugar to be stored in the liver as glykogen, after it has been processed by certain amino acids. Alcohol will inhibit or cancel the ability of these amino acids to do their job.
Alcohol also inhibits the liver's ability to allow the hormone glukagon to release some of the stored sugar (glykogen) to counterbalance low blood sugar, leaving especially diabetics at considerable risk; the absence of blood sugar hinders the brain's normal function, which is likely to lead to seizures and eventually death. To prevent this, diabetics are counselled to eat food before sleep if they've consumed alcohol in the evening, especially if more than one or two units of alcohol have been consumed.
Wernicke's and Korsakoff's
Patients who've consumed excessive amounts of alcohol over an extended period of time will have insuficient levels of vitamin B, particularly B1 and B12, necessitating the administration of high doses of these vitamins as part of their treatment. Without this supplemental vitamin administration, these patients are at considerable risk of developing Wernicke's disease or the similar, chronic condition Korsakoff's syndrome, both of which stem from vitamin deficiency.
- C.V. Hansen, MD. (September 17th, 2008). "Alkohol og diabetes" (in danish). radiodoktoren.dk. http://radiodoktoren.dk/radiodoktoren/2008/09/17/alkohol-og-diabetes. Retrieved August 25th, 2015.
- Lars Ovesen (July 12th 2011). "Vitamin B1 (thiamin)" (in danish). Medicin.dk. http://pro.medicin.dk/Laegemiddelgrupper/Grupper/43000. Retrieved march 15th 2012.
- Martin Kreutzer (january 13th, 2009). "NetDoktor om B12-vitamin" (in danish). netdoktor.dk. http://www.netdoktor.dk/vitaminer/vitaminb12.htm. Retrieved June 8th, 2015.