Magnesium Deficiency and Alcoholism

Did you know that alcohol is magnesium-diuretic? Your kidneys excrete as much as 260% more magnesium within a few minutes of drinking alcohol!

Alcoholism and MagnesiumProtect yourself by increasing your intake of magnesium in your diet and through supplements.

Binge drinking is an increasing problem in Europe. In many countries, the number of people in their late teens and early 20s being treated for alcohol-related illnesses is growing.

Medically, alcoholism is recognized as a form of metabolic disorder with clinical features that include lack of control over drinking, constant craving for alcohol and physical dependence on alcohol. Experimental and epidemiological studies have found that certain genetic factors can help determine if an individual has an unusually high vulnerability to develop alcoholism. Further research also establishes that alcoholism is not only characterized by a single gene inheritance, but is influenced by multiple genes. Environmental factors also influence a person’s susceptibility to become an alcoholic [1].


Why is Magnesium Deficiency common among Alcoholics?

The earliest account of magnesium deficiency in alcoholics was reported way back in 1934. In 1987, a study carried out in Finland by Mussalo-Rauhamaa H, Poikolainen K, Kärkkäinen P, Lehto J found that deficiency of magnesium is prevalent among alcoholics [2]. Another study in the United States by Shane SR, Flink EB (1991) found a correlation between alcoholism and magnesium deficiency [3].

Renal magnesium wastage is the reason why most alcoholics are magnesium deficient. Alcohol acts as a magnesium diuretic leading to a vigorous increase in the urinary excretion of the mineral. Experts claim that the kidney excretes as much as 260% more magnesium within a few minutes of drinking alcohol. Habitual intake of alcohol and development of alcoholism depletes the body’s stores of magnesium. This is further exacerbated by the lack of magnesium in the regular diet.

 In the later stages of alcoholism, the urinary excretion of magnesium may diminish as a physiological response to reduction of body’s stores of magnesium. Studies conducted on animals show that magnesium deficiency is aggravated due to liver damage caused by the intake of alcohol [4]. Factors such as gastrointestinal losses with vomiting and/or diarrhea also contribute to the gradual depletion of magnesium [5].

Depleted magnesium stores impact the brain, skeletal muscles and liver as well as the heart. Loss of magnesium also significantly affects protein synthesis, energy production, cell function and other equally important functions of other organs in the body. Magnesium deficiency prevalent in chronic alcoholism may also contribute to cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis.  Magnesium loss is also seen as a predisposing factor for the development of alcohol-induced pathologies such as cardiomyopathy, sarcopaenia, brain stroke and cirrhosis.

Depressive symptoms common among alcoholics, especially during the withdrawal period can also be attributed to magnesium deficiency [6]. Magnesium regulates the calcium ion stream towards the neuronal calcium channels. This provides assistance in helping regulate the production of neuronal nitric oxide. If a magnesium deficiency is present, the neuronal requirements are no longer met, thereby resulting in neuronal damage, which manifests itself in the form of depression. In fact, rapid and promising results were observed in the administration of magnesium among people suffering from depression [7].

Magnesium as a Therapy for Alcoholics

Alcoholism Recovery and Mag365As a number of manifestations of alcoholism result from magnesium deficiency, treatment of alcoholic patients with magnesium can have many therapeutic benefits.

Magnesium can be used to efficiently and effectively diminish the depressive symptoms common among alcoholics during and after the withdrawal period.

Magnesium supplementation may assist in the normalization of high enzyme activities as well as clinically significant parameters among alcoholics. In a Norwegian study chronic alcoholics were administered with magnesium supplementation for six weeks. This resulted in a significant decrease in the abnormally elevated activities of the three enzymes related to liver function: aspartate-aminotransferase (S-AST), gamma-glutamyltransferase (S-GGT) and alanine-aminotransferase (S-ALT). A considerable increase in strength in handgrip muscles of the participants was also observed. [8]

Through long-term magnesium supplementation, a reformed alcoholic person may even be able to restore liver function as well as other possible impairments associated with excessive drinking.

Some studies even point to magnesium administration as a preventive measure to forestall or minimize the deleterious effects of chronic use of alcohol or to prevent the development of cancer than can occur in this setting. [9]

Chronic alcohol consumption can constrict arteries in the brain and lead to neurological deficit (Thomson et al. 1988). Daily supplementation with 500-1500 mg of magnesium could help keep cerebral blood vessels open by blocking excess infiltration of calcium into endothelial cells [10] 

If you regularly intake alcohol, protect yourself against magnesium deficiency. Make magnesium supplements like Mag365 a regular part of your diet.

Consequences of alcoholism are long lasting, make sure you enroll with AA ( or some other counseling group to help you kick the habit.


  1. Gianoulakis C, de Waele JP: GENETICS OF ALCOHOLISM: ROLE OF THE ENDOGENOUS OPIOID SYSTEM. Metabolic Brain Disease 1994; 9(2):105-31. 
  2. Mussalo-Rauhamaa H, Poikolainen K, Kärkkäinen P, Lehto J: Decreased serum selenium and magnesium levels in drunkenness arrestees.Drug Alcohol Depend 1987, 20:95-103.
  3. Shane SR, Flink EB: Magnesium deficiency in alcohol addiction and withdrawal.Magnes Trace Elem 1991, 10(2-4):263-268. 
  4. 5. Rayssiquier Y, Chevalier F, Bonnet M, Kopp J, Durlach J: Influence of magnesium deficiency on liver collagen after carbon tetrachloride or ethanol administration to rats.J Nutr 1985, 115:1656-1662. 
  6. Rasmussen HH, Mortensen PB, Jensen IW: Depression and magnesium deficiency.Int J Psychiatr Med 1989, 19:57-63.
  7. 11. Eby GA, Eby KL: Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment.Med Hypotheses 2006, 67:362-70.
  8. 4.Gullestad L, Dolva LØ, Søyland E, Manger AT, Falch D: Oral magnesium supplementation improves metabolic variables and muscle strength in alcoholics.Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1992, 16:986-90.
  9. Magnesium deficiency and alcohol intake: mechanisms, clinical significance and possible relation to cancer development (a review).
  10. Alcohol-Induced Hangover: Prevention