Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals found in the body, playing a vital role in numerous physiological functions. In this article, we'll explore how magnesium might impact hangovers.
Drinking alcohol, particularly in excess, can affect magnesium levels in the body. Studies have shown that acute heavy drinking and chronic alcohol use can lead to magnesium loss via urination. This is due to two main reasons:
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it increases urine production. This leads to the loss of water and essential minerals like magnesium. For example, a 2017 study by researchers in the Netherlands found that moderate amounts of stronger alcoholic beverages (≥13.5%, such as wine and distilled beverages) provoked a diuretic effect in study participants (1).
During the metabolism of alcohol, toxic by-products such as acetaldehyde are formed. This causes inflammation. Your bodies immune response relies on magnesium by active immune cells. Thus, the metabolism of alcohol increases your bodies usage of magnesium.
Clinical and experimental evidence indicates alcohol consumption as one of the major causes of magnesium loss from several tissues. As a result of this loss, serum magnesium tends to decrease while urinary magnesium excretion increases 2-3 fold (2).
Understanding the causes of a hangover is crucial to exploring potential remedies. Here are three major factors that contribute to hangover symptoms:
Alcohol's diuretic properties lead to dehydration. Dehydration is one of the main causes of hangover symptoms.
Alcohol metabolism generates toxic by-products that cause cellular inflammation. Given that the body's inflammation response is responsible for many symptoms of colds and flus, it is also thought to be partially responsible for various hangover symptoms (3).
Alcohol disrupts sleep quality, contributing to hangover symptoms.
Researchers from Northern Ireland found that both objective and subjective assessments confirmed that consuming a large amount of alcohol has a negative impact on sleep. They found that alcohol consumption led to significantly reduced objective sleep efficiency and significantly lower subjective sleep quality (4):
Given the relationship between magnesium levels and alcohol consumption, there's potential for magnesium to alleviate hangover symptoms. While there are other remedies that may also help, such as staying hydrated, consuming electrolytes, and sleeping more, research does suggest that magnesium supplementation is a viable solution to prevent hangover symptoms.
If you're considering taking a magnesium supplement to prevent hangovers, remember that not all supplements are created equal. Magnesium absorption differs based on the type of supplement and your diet. For instance, magnesium malate is absorbed better than magnesium oxide, and high protein and fatty foods can increase magnesium absorption.
Research suggests that magnesium malate is very well absorbed in your digestive tract, making it a great option for replenishing your magnesium levels (5).
Some people report that magnesium malate is gentler on your digestive system than other forms of magnesium. This may be beneficial, depending on your specific needs.
While supplementation may provide some relief, the best way to prevent a hangover is to moderate your alcohol consumption, hydrate properly, and maintain a balanced diet. This approach is healthier and more sustainable in the long run.
Magnesium levels can indeed drop due to heavy and chronic alcohol use, and research suggests that magnesium can effectively mitigate hangover symptoms in some people. For those interested in potential natural remedies for hangovers, it's worth exploring a variety of remedies, including vitamins, supplements, hydration, sleep, and other areas that contribute to hangover symptoms and aid in recovery from drinking alcohol.