As the name suggests, this is your ultimate guide where we cover 21 vitamins to prevent hangover — backed by over fifty sources of studies, research and references! (listed at the bottom)
There are few experiences as unappealing as waking up with a massive hangover. You feel, well, horrible.
If you're looking for vitamins to prevent a hangover, science has discovered many that can do good when it comes to helping prevent hangovers and recovering from alcohol.
We'll review the science and studies of not only vitamins, but included are even minerals, herbs, and antioxidants — so you'll have the most in depth review and full list of what to take to prevent hangovers.
The morning after a night of heavy drinking, you may be feeling a little bit like death. You might find yourself suffering from a pounding headache, nausea, dizziness and even sweating.
This is due to your body fighting the toxic effects of having too much alcohol, which includes dehydration and an imbalance of the body's electrolytes. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to prevent this from happening!
When you drink alcohol, it depletes many vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes and vitamins from your body. This is part of why you get a hangover, which we cover. Then there's other ingredients that may not get depleted, but have incredible liver, and alcohol benefiting properties that can influence a hangover.
Here are 20 vitamins you should take before drinking alcohol to stop hangovers, according to science. Keep in mind these are not ranked by strength or effectiveness, in fact many of the best ones are towards the bottom.
First we'll start with Vitamins to Prevent Hangover -- specifically the vitamin B complex.
Before diving into each B Vitamin — including B1, B2, B3, B6, B7, and B12 — it's worth noting that Vitamin B complexes in general are popular for helping and avoiding hangovers.
As Stanford University says, during alcohol metabolism, our vitamin B stores are reduced.⁵¹
Alcohol in general can greatly reduce or even inhibit certain B vitamins. This results in fatigue and tiredness, hence also why so many vitamins to prevent hangovers include them.
We'll dive deeper into each Vitamin B below, and with how each vitamin prevents a hangover.
Vitamin B1 benefits the brain and nervous system, helps in the production of red blood cells and metabolizes carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
The most common vitamin deficiency in alcoholism is thiamine (vitamin B1).
Studies have found that alcoholic patients had thiamine deficiency up to 80% rate.² This is because alcohol reduces the amount of vitamin B1 that your body absorbs.
Early symptoms of thiamine deficiency include fatigue, weakness and anorexia.
Simply supplementing B1 thiamine can help combat alcohols reduction of this vitamin.
Vitamin B2 is especially important for proper body function because it helps break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy.
A European study reports that high doses of Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) may help prevent migraine headaches.³
Therefore it's claimed to potentially help prevent the development of hangover symptoms like a headache.
Research finds, as with vitamin B1, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to B2 deficiency, which can cause suboptimal health outcomes and other problems.⁴ Therefore, supplementing B2 can fight against alcohol's depleting effects.
Finally, B2 (riboflavin) is needed to rebuild glutathione in the body, so it too is depleted by alcohol.
The B vitamin niacin helps your body turn food into energy and helps keeps your nervous system, skin and digestive system healthy.
In a recent study of 23 people, researchers found that those who had higher levels of nicotinic acid (niacin) and zinc in their diets reported less severe hangovers compared with those with lower levels.⁸ Hangover symptoms that were measure included sleepiness, nausea, headache, weakness, stomach pain, and anxiety.
Among other things, the literature suggests that nicotinic acid (niacin) when combined with zinc plays a key role in the metabolism of alcohol — specifically oxidation of alcohol into acetaldehyde.⁸
Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, spent the last eleven years of his life spreading word of vitamin B3 therapy as a supplement option to complement AA groups.⁶ It was coined niacin therapy.
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin. It's a member of the B complex family of vitamins and is involved in over 100 reactions in your body.
Bodily reactions and processes such as produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine which effects mood, make hemoglobin, make glutathione, and break down glycogen for energy use.¹²
In one study that combined yeast and vitamin B6, including B1 and B2, showed a statistically significant difference in the hangover symptoms of discomfort, restlessness, and impatience.¹⁰
In addition, a deficiency in Vitamin B6 due to alcohol can cause tiredness and low energy.¹¹
Biotin is involved in numerous body functions. Vitamin B7 promotes the function of the nervous system, helps regulate blood sugar, and is necessary for liver metabolism.
B7 is included in numerous hangover prevention formulations with Vitamin B complex, however, no studies are found isolating B7 with regards to its effects on hangovers.
One study shows that alcohol can cause inhibition of biotin uptake in the gut or intestinal tract. ¹⁴
Folate aids in proper digestion, absorption of nutrients, and removal of waste products from the body.
Folate is an essential component of DNA and RNA, and its deficiency has been linked to liver function.
A study showed that folate deficiency disturbs the metabolism of methionine, an amino acid in your body, and contributes to liver damage with relation to alcohol consumption.¹⁶
Vitamin B12 is needed to form red blood cells and make DNA. It also helps brain and nerve cells develop and function.
The good news is research showed that patients with alcohol intoxication did not have vitamin B12 deficiencies, showing that alcohol did not have an effect on the vitamin.¹⁸
Although there were no significant studies to show B12 as a vitamin to prevent hangover, it's a popular B vitamin for energy and still in a lot of hangover pills.
Benefits of adding B12 via an IV intravenous therapy or supplement can help B12 deficiency symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, depression and poor memory.¹⁹
An antioxidant in itself, L-cysteine is valued for its ability to increase glutathione levels in the body.
This amino acid works as an antioxidant and helps boost lung and brain function, as well as promote liver detoxification.
One study done on L-cysteine proves it can prevent or alleviate hangovers. Primary finds showed that L-cysteine helped lower hangover symptoms such as nausea, headache, stress, and anxiety.¹⁵
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps the body grow, develop and heal.
It’s involved in many body processes, including the production of collagen, immune system function, and wound repair.
Although no significant studies prove Vitamin C to prevent hangovers, one study showed Vitamin C to promote liver function recovery and glucose homeostasis in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.²⁰
Other research showed that chronic alcohol consumption inhibits the ability of the pancreas to absorb vitamin C.²¹
Since your body doesn't product Vitamin C, you must get it from your diet or supplementation.
Magnesium is a powerhouse electrolyte (mineral) important for more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body -- involved in DNA synthesis, energy metabolism, may help headache or migraines, support healthy blood sugar levels, combat depression, boost exercise performance, support better sleep, and reduce anxiety symptoms.²³
One study found that nearly 50% of Americans have suboptimal magnesium levels or magnesium deficiencies, not including alcohol's effect on the body.²⁴
In studies, 30% of alcoholics have been found to have clinical magnesium deficiency.²⁵ Both clinical and research evidence indicates that alcohol consumption is one of many causes of magnesium loss from the body.²⁷
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean from the Nutritional Magnesium Association, magnesium help to avoid the "pain of a tension headache or hangover and can lessen the damage to the brain.”²²
Lastly, alcohol is a diuretic which causes dehydration likely leading to part of the cause of a hangover. Magnesium is a mineral that carries an electrical charge, and works with other electrolytes including sodium, potassium and calcium to help you make the most of your water and maximize hydration.
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for your body.
Vitamin D is critically important for controlling your body's absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and for helping to keep your immune system functioning normally.
It also makes sense that you'd want this vitamin after a night of heavy drinking. Drinking too much alcohol can disrupt the digestive system and cause a Vitamin D deficiency.²⁵
Potassium is a mineral that is necessary to the proper functioning of all cells, as it ensures proper function of your muscle and nerve cells, regulates heartbeat and blood pressure, and is vital for the metabolism of carbohydrates.²⁸
Alcohol interferes with the production of a hormone that helps your body retain water, leading to dehydration and the loss of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium.²⁹
Due to excessive peeing from consumption of alcohol, a researcher at George Mason University wrote "In addition to the liquid expelled during frequent urination, certain salts and potassium — required for proper nerve and muscle function — are also lost."³⁰
For helping prevent hangovers simply add this electrolyte when drinking to replace what's lost from alcohol consumption. Although potassium alone it won't do the trick, in combination with other electrolytes and vitamins it will help.
To maintain strong bones and a healthy heart, muscles, and nerves, your body needs calcium.
When it comes to hydration, calcium also helps us to keep our electrolyte balance in equilibrium.
Alcohol doesn’t directly affect calcium levels, but the side effects do. For example, excessive drinking can harm your liver and inhibit its ability to produce an enzyme needed for the body to absorb calcium.³¹
This mineral doesn't necessarily prevent hangovers, but can certain help assist in your body's hydration.
Zinc, a trace mineral that your body needs, helps your immune system, wound healing, and metabolism.
Reading the literature, you see that the roles of zinc (along with nicotinic acid) in the oxidation of ethanol into acetaldehyde are important.⁸
Essentially, Zinc can your body absorb alcohol and break it down better.
In summary, the findings from this study suggest that social drinkers who eat more foods high in zinc and nicotinic acid are less likely to report severe hangovers the next day.⁸
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient involved in vision, growth, cell division, which also contains antioxidant properties.
A study found that when you drink alcohol, it can have a significant effect on vitamin a (retinoid) homeostasis.³²
As like many other vitamins and minerals, diligent studies on the liver show chronic consumption of alcohol is associated with a decrease in Vitamin A.³²
It's definitely another supporting vitamin you want to replace when consuming alcohol.
When you take NAC, it helps your body's production of glutathione as a precursor, which is one of your body's key antioxidants. And may also help aid in regulating glutamate.
Glutathione is known to reduce hangover toxicity and is also useful for liver health. Therefore making NAC ideal for liver support, may play an important role in your body’s detoxification process, and possible improvement for hangovers.
In one study, though there were no differences in the results of the general hangover scale, females using NAC showed improvement on various measures of hangover symptoms.³⁴
Japanese Raisin tree, or Hovenia dulcis (DHM), is mainly found in East Asia, and the fruit has been used for centuries in traditional folk remedies for alcohol intoxication.
This might be the most potent herbs or vitamins to prevent hangovers of them all!
One study shows significant declines in hangover symptoms in the group that took Hovenia Dulcis (DHM) versus the placebo group.³⁵
Research indicates that Hovenia Dulcis (DHM) can help to relieve the symptoms of a hangover by inhibiting alcohol-induced acetaldehyde accumulation, which is the toxin produced by alcohol.³⁶
In a 2010 study, they found that Hovenia Dulcis might protect alcohol-related liver damage. Researchers noted an increase in antioxidant enzymes helping to metabolize alcohol.³⁷
In 2012, researchers proved that a juice and fermented vinegar made from Hovenia Dulcis — can help protect your liver from alcohol related liver damage.³⁸
Hovenia Dulcis, or the potent flavonoid DHM benefits contained within, is a super vitamin for hangovers not to be left out.
Prickly pear contains nutrients that are critical for blood pressure health and immune system function.
They also contain beneficial plant compounds, including antioxidants such as phenolic acids and flavonoids, while also containing magnesium, potassium, calcium and Vitamin C.⁴¹
The prickly pear cactus, acknowledged for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, has been used by the people of Mexico for centuries as a claimed hangover remedy and cure.
Prickly pear cactus extract has recently gained popularity due to some promising findings to help lessen the symptoms of a hangover. In one study, three of nine hangover symptoms were significantly decreased — nausea, dry mouth, and anorexia —and severe hangover symptoms were decreased by 50%!⁴⁰
Prickly pear is certainly a top pick for vitamins to prevent hangover.
Glutamine supplements can help boost your gut, immune and other body functions, especially during times of stress when you need the extra help.
As we know alcohol is dehydrating, one study found that glutamine can help the body absorb fluids and electrolytes.⁴²
When you drink alcohol, it inhibits the body's ability to produce glutamine. When you stop drinking, the body starts a "glutamine rebound" and produces more glutamate to make up for the loss, which can lead to fatigue, restlessness and anxiety the next day. ⁴⁴
Supplementing glutamine can therefore increase your glutamine levels to help prevent glutamine rebound from occurring, potentially decreasing your symptoms of a hangover.
Glutathione (an amino acid made of three parts: L-cysteine, glycine, and L-glutamine) is a potent antioxidant that helps us rid the body of toxic substances.
Considered your body's master antioxidant, it plays a major role in fighting oxidative stress in our cells and helps recover from alcohol with glutathione.
In 1986, the University of Milan studied the effect that glutathione has on blood alcohol, acetaldehyde and hepatic triglyceride levels — and found a significant reducing effect on acetaldehyde.⁴⁷
Glutathione’s ability to break down acetaldehyde may help prevent or ease hangover symptoms.⁴⁸
Another study found that alcohol consumption leads to a depletion of glutathione stores.⁴⁹
To add to the damage, they observed that the body must wait between 8-24 hours for the liver to make more glutathione, which is necessary to rid the body of toxic acetaldehyde byproducts produced after alcohol consumption.⁵⁰
NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) isn't need if you supplement glutathione. Glutathione is the a huge component to help your body break down alcohol to prevent or minimize a hangover.
In conclusion, this list and research of vitamins to prevent hangover gives us promising remedies as to what nutrients can help protect against hangover symptoms.
As far as hangover prevention is concerned, no single vitamin, mineral, or antioxidant is necessarily king (or queen) of hangovers, although if we were to crown one would probably go to either Hovenia Dulcis, Prickly Pear, or Glutathione.
The evidence suggests that if you use some combination of these vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in combination— you'll get the best hangover prevention benefits these nutrients have to offer.
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2. Why Do We Give Thiamine to Alcoholics
3. High-dose riboflavin treatment is efficacious in migraine prophylaxis: an open study in a tertiary care centre
4. Chronic alcohol feeding inhibits physiological and molecular parameters of intestinal and renal riboflavin transport
5. Migraine vitamins: Do they work?
6. Alcoholics Anonymous Founder Bill Wilson's Long-Lost Treatment Paradigm
7. The Treatment of Alcoholism with Vitamin B3
8. Dietary Nutrient Intake, Alcohol Metabolism, and Hangover Severity
9. Expert Hacks for Preventing a Hangover
10. Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials
11. 9 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency
12. 9 Health Benefits of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
13. Vitamin B6 metabolism in chronic alcohol abuse The effect of ethanol oxidation on hepatic pyridoxal 5'-phosphate metabolism
14. Effect of chronic alcohol exposure on gut vitamin B7 uptake: involvement of epigenetic mechanisms and effect of alcohol metabolites
15. L-Cysteine Containing Vitamin Supplement Which Prevents or Alleviates Alcohol-related Hangover Symptoms: Nausea, Headache, Stress and Anxiety
16. Folate deficiency disturbs hepatic methionine metabolism and promotes liver injury
17. Folic Acid: Everything You Need to Know
18. Vitamin deficiencies in acutely intoxicated patients in the ED
19. Can Injecting Vitamins Save You From Hangovers?https://amuse.vice.com/en_us/article/bvg3p4/a-musical-tour-of-ibiza
20. Effects of Oral Vitamin C Supplementation on Liver Health and Associated Parameters in Patients With Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
21. Chronic drinking interferes with absorption of critical vitamins by pancreas: like Vitamin C
22. Hangover Cure: How To Stop A Hangover Before It Starts
23. 12 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium
24. Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated
25. Do You Need More Magnesium? 10 Signs to Watch For
26. Magnesium treatment in alcoholics: A randomized clinical trial
27. Magnesium homeostasis and alcohol consumption
28. The importance of potassium
29. Mechanism of Dehydration Following Alcohol Ingestion
30. Science's Best Hangover Cures
31. Why our hangover cure is so effective
32. The Adverse Effects of Alcohol on Vitamin A Metabolism
33. Vitamin A - Mayo Clinic
34. The use of N-acetylcysteine in the prevention of hangover
35. A standardized extract of the fruit of Hovenia dulcis alleviated alcohol-induced hangover in healthy subjects
36. Natural Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Hangover and Alcohol Use Disorder
37. Semen Hoveniae extract protects against acute alcohol-induced liver injury in mice
38. Effect of juice and fermented vinegar from Hovenia dulcis peduncles on chronically alcohol-induced liver
39. What Is Hovenia Dulcis?
40. Effect of Opuntia ficus indica on symptoms of the alcohol hangover
41. Prickly Pear: Nutrition, Benefits, Recipes, and More
42. Examination of the efficacy of acute L-alanyl-L-glutamine ingestion during hydration stress in endurance exercise
43. L-Glutamine & Alcohol
44. Biology of a Hangover: Glutamine Rebound
45. Glutamine modifies immune responses of mice infected with porcine circovirus type 2
46. Glutamine: Boost Your Immunity and Athletic Performance
47. Effect of Glutathione on Blood Alcohol and Hangover Symptoms
48. Effect of Glutathione on Blood Alcohol and Hangover Symptoms
49. Glutathione Depletion and Recovery After Acute Ethanol Administration in the Aging Mouse
50. The use of N-acetylcysteine in the prevention of hangover: a randomized trial
51. Stanford University - Hangovers