Suffering a hangover after a night of heavy drinking is a common and unpleasant experience. Hangover symptoms often include dizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigue, and a reduced ability to concentrate. There are multiple causes behind these symptoms, and one of the main culprits is dehydration.
Dehydration occurs because alcohol inhibits the hormone vasopressin, which assists your kidneys in reabsorbing water and prevents excessive urination. When vasopressin levels are reduced, your body may lose more water than it retains, which exacerbates hangover symptoms. Thus, drinking water should be your first line of defense while consuming alcohol, as it mitigates the dehydrating effects of alcohol which can ultimately reduce the severity of your hangover.
Hydration alone isn't always enough, particularly when the body's electrolytes have been depleted. This is because frequent urination results in the loss of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals.
When dehydrated, the body rations the water that it has left. It diverts water from places like your brain and muscles. Research suggests that this leads to a contraction of your brain, which pulls on surrounding nerves and causes a headache. Additionally, the reduction of water and electrolytes in your muscles is thought to create fatigue and soreness.
Excessive urination, triggered by alcohol consumption, leads to the loss of essential electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which are needed for normal muscle and nerve function.
Electrolytes are chemical compounds that dissolve into ions when in water. The primary electrolytes in your body include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. These compounds have two main roles in your body: regulating the flow of water in and out of cells, and triggering nerve impulses.
Sodium and potassium work together to maintain the correct balance of fluids inside and outside your cells. Calcium and magnesium contribute to building strong bones. These minerals also stimulate contractions in the heart and other muscles, help maintain proper pH in your blood, and regulate your body's immune response.
Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade, Liquid I.V., LMNT, and PREGAME are often advertised as electrolyte replenishers. This is because they contain essential ions like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. These ions are lost during intense physical activities and excessive alcohol consumption.
Replenishing the body's electrolytes can help to offset dehydration that's caused by drinking alcohol. Ideally, electrolyte supplements should be consumed before drinking and again before going to bed after drinking. This contributes to hangover prevention in two ways: rehydration, and replenishing key electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals that are lost when alcohol is consumed.
Products like PREGAME are designed to prevent hangovers. They contain a blend of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals including sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
These nutrients are crucial to recovery as they are often depleted when you drink alcohol. This leads to dehydration and hangover symptoms, many of which are reported even at low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption (1):