Does Vitamin B Help With Hangovers? (The Science)

Does Vitamin B Help With Hangovers

Maybe you're trying to get find out how to get rid of a wine hangover from a night of wine and Netflix, or from that weekend drinking that leaves you suffering from a hangover on a Monday.

As you know, a hangover is what happens when you drink too much alcohol and the effects the next day. In fact, the word actually means a headache that follows heavy drinking.

Either way, taking a vitamin B pill is supposed to help ease your hangover symptoms from the day before. So, does vitamin B help with hangovers?

Let’s see what the science has to say. In this article, we look at what Vitamin B is and if it can really be effective at combating hangovers via replenishment, alcohol detox and metabolism.

What Causes Hangovers?

Hangovers are caused by a combination of factors including dehydration, inflammation from alcohol, electrolyte imbalance, acetaldehyde buildup, vitamin deficiencies and disrupted sleep.

Hangovers include symptoms such as:

  • fatigue or low energy
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • headache
  • thirst
  • increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shakiness
  • loss of appetite
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • muscle cramps

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it promotes the production of urine. Your body loses water when you drink alcohol and this can cause dehydration. Dehydration then can cause hangover symptoms like headaches and muscle aches.

Hangovers are can be caused by the inflammatory processes caused by alcohol in your body. The body creates inflammatory chemicals in response to alcohol. Alcohol causes inflammation in the brain and liver by activating inflammatory markers called cytokines.

It is also believed that the toxic byproducts of alcohol (ethanol) metabolism are responsible for hangover symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Ethanol is broken down in the liver into acetaldehyde and then into acetic acid. Acetaldehyde has been shown to cause damage to red blood cells, thus causing headaches and irritability, and increases stomach acids leading to nausea and vomiting.

Some people believe that other ingredients in alcoholic beverages besides ethanol are responsible for hangovers. In addition to ethanol, alcoholic drinks contain congeners and sulfites.

Although we've debunked sulfites causing hangovers, congeners are compounds other than ethanol produced during fermentation and include methanol, histamine, acetone, and tannins. More congeners tend to be present in darker alcoholic beverages such as brandy and whiskey than in lighter ones like vodka or gin.

Does Vitamin B Help With Hangovers: The Science

There are an increasing number of people touting vitamin B as the cure-all for hangovers. Does it really work?

We've done the research on hundreds of studies in regards to vitamins to prevent hangover to find the science behind this nutrient and see if vitamin b or vitamin b complex helps with hangovers.

We've found evidence hangover helping vitamins such as Vitamin C, Prickly Pear, DHM, Glutamine and Glutathione -- but in this article we'll dive into vitamin B.

Vitamin B is not a single vitamin or nutrient but rather a group of eight different vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). These vitamins are essential for normal body function, especially for the metabolism and digestion of food.

What we found is that primarily many vitamin B's are lost during alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol increases the need for several B vitamins, especially thiamine, niacin and pyridoxine.

Excessive drinking can deplete your body of these nutrients and lead to a deficiency. While these condition is more likely to occur in people with chronic alcoholism, anyone who drinks heavily can see these similar results.

Let's dive into each vitamin B and how it effects hangovers:

1. Does Thiamine (Vitamin B1) help hangovers?

Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is an essential nutrient that supports energy production and metabolism. It can be found in foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts and meat.

There's some evidence that taking vitamin B supplements may reduce alcohol-induced brain damage. However, there's no evidence supporting the use of vitamin B1 supplements to reduce hangover symptoms.

However, one study shows that alcohol (ethanol) reduces the absorption of thiamin from the gastrointestinal tract, decreases the amount of thiamin stored in the liver, and impairs the ability to phosphorylate thiamin. This can lead to a thiamin deficiency in up to 80% of chronic alcoholics.²

Thiamine deficiency can cause fatigue, weakness, weight loss, anorexia, and emotional disturbances. It is why thiamine (B1) supplements or injections are given to alcoholics.

2. Does Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) help hangovers?

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is one of the many vitamins that make up the B complex. This family of nutrients plays an important role in helping your body convert food into energy.

It also helps your cells produce red blood cells and antibodies, which are components of your immune system.

Although finding a study where vitamin b2 specifically helps a hangover is murky, we found one study on the vitamin helping migraines. Riboflavin treatment resulted in a significant reduction in headache frequency.³

In addition, just like Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2 was shown as a deficiency and suboptimal levels in humans with chronic alcohol consumption -- therefore, alcohol again causing a decline in Vitamin B levels.

3. Does Niacin (Vitamin B3) help hangovers?

Niacin, also called nicotinic acid, is another one of the eight types of B vitamins that make up the vitamin B complex. It’s also known as nicotinic acid and nicotinamide.

Niacin is involved in many important processes that occur within your body, including helping to convert food into energy, helping maintain the health of your nervous system and digestive system, and making hormones in your adrenal glands.

Can vitamin B3 help a hangover? The short answer is yes, it's one of the few vitamins B's that show scientific results to improve or help a hangover.

A study out of the Netherlands found that those who consumed more niacin and zinc had a decline in hangover severity. This study suggests that social drinkers who have a higher dietary intake of niacin and zinc are less likely to experience severe hangovers.⁵

The key here was it was combination of vitamin B3 and Zinc.

4. Does Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) help hangovers?

Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that's involved in many metabolic processes. It helps with the conversion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy.

Vitamin B-5, or pantothenic acid, is popular for its alleged ability to prevent hangovers. The theory behind this remedy is that vitamin B-5 helps the body break down alcohol.
Research in Japan found that there was a significant inhibition of the rise in blood acetaldehyde concentrations following alcohol ingestion in subjects taking Pantethine orally. Pantethine increased the activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase by up to 71% in comparison to the control group.⁶

Vitamin B5 definitely shows some promising results to help process alcohol, where acetaldehyde build up can be 10-30 times more toxic than alcohol itself,  however not specific evidence to cure a hangover.


5. Does Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) help hangovers?

The benefits of vitamin B6 play a role in the central nervous system,  metabolism, including turning food into energy. This vitamin is also responsible for creating new red blood cells, maintaining a healthy immune system, and other functions. 

Indiana University School of Medicine showed that the presence of acetaldehyde from alcohol accelerated the degradation of Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), creating a deleterious effect.⁸ Alcohol may essentially minimize or deplete B6.

6. Does Biotin (Vitamin B7) help hangovers?

Biotin (B7), known as the beautify vitamin, may improve the health of your hair, skin, nails, and sweat glands by helping your body convert food into energy.

But does it help with hangovers? The short answer is no. But biotin's role in health makes it an important supplement for people who are deficient in this vitamin.

One study did find that alcohol can negatively influence your body's B7. The American Journal of Physiology found that alcohol metabolites can cause inhibition in your gut Vitamin B7 uptake.⁹

7. Does Folate (Vitamin B9) help hangovers?

Vitamin B-9, also known as folate or folic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that helps your body produce and maintain new cells.

It is particularly important during periods of growth and cell division and differentiation, and is required for the production of red blood cells.

Vitamin B9 did not show any studies to specifically help, treat or prevent a hangover. However, a study found that folate deficiency can lead to disturbances in hepatic methionine metabolism which can promote alcoholic liver injury.¹⁰

Therefore, Vitamin B9 can play a role in helping avoid liver injury.

8. Does Cobalamin (B12) help hangovers?

Cobalamin helps with red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and neurological functions.

Deficiency in this vitamin can lead to fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, nerve damage and mood disorders.

So does vitamin B12 help with hangovers? No research exists to show improvement in hangover symptoms.

Even further, a study done on intoxicated patients showed no folate or B12 deficiencies. This vitamin b appears to have no negative effects from alcohol.

Although, it's sometimes included in hangover pills due to the fact that it's one of the best b vitamins for energy.  B12 helps turn fat and protein into energy and can help prevent anemia, which can lead to fatigue and weakness.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Does Vitamin B Help Hangovers?

If you're wondering does vitamin b help hangovers, the answer is a mixed yes and no. 

The answer as you read above actually depends on what vitamin b's. As a whole, almost every vitamin B, with exception to vitamin B12, shows a negative effect or deficiency when consuming acute amounts of alcohol. 

Simply supplementing vitamin B for hangovers is mostly replacing what alcohol depletes, and therefore might have a positive effect on a hangover because of the myriad of benefits from a vitamin b complex.

Three Vitamin B's showed the most promising research in regards to hangovers or headaches -- which includes Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), and Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5). If you're going to take Vitamin B to help a hangover, we'd recommend starting with these three first.

The bottom line is, you can't go wrong supplementing vitamin b for hangovers due to the overwhelming fact that alcohol can cause deficiencies. There's still limiting research to show how significant improvements in hangovers from vitamin b.

A Secret Herb That Can Fight Hangovers?

There is an herb out of Asia that has shown more promising hangover research results than b vitamins.

Hovenia Dulcis, also known as dihydromyricetin (DHM), is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been historically used to relieve symptoms of hangovers, headaches, and excessive alcohol consumption.

A Korean study that was conducted showed that the group who took the Hovenia Dulcis extract had a significant decline in hangover symptoms, and improving the inflammatory response from alcohol.¹²

Want to supplement the Hovenia Dulcis herb? Try our Zaca hydration + liver aid chewables that are loaded with Hovenia Dulcis.








1. Why Do We Give Thiamine to Alcoholics
2. Thiamine (B1 and alcohol)
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. Dietary Nutrient Intake, Alcohol Metabolism, and Hangover Severity
6. Lowering of blood acetaldehyde but not ethanol concentrations by pantethine following alcohol ingestion: different effects in flushing and nonflushing subjects
7. Scientific Research (on b vitamins and hangovers)
8. The Role of Acetaldehyde in Mediating the Deleterious Effect of Ethanol on Pyridoxal 5′-Phosphate Metabolism
9. Effect of chronic alcohol exposure on gut vitamin B7 uptake: involvement of epigenetic mechanisms and effect of alcohol metabolites
10. Folate deficiency disturbs hepatic methionine metabolism and promotes liver injury
11. Vitamin deficiencies in acutely intoxicated patients in the ED
12. A standardized extract of the fruit of Hovenia dulcis alleviated alcohol-induced hangover in healthy subjects