Metabolic effects of alcohol

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The metabolic effects of ethanol are due to a direct action of ethanol or its metabolites, changes in the redox state occurring during its metabolism, and modifications of the effects of ethanol by nutritional factors. Ethanol causes hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia depending on whether glycogen stores are adequate, inhibits protein synthesis, and results in fatty liver and in elevations in serum triglyceride levels. Increases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol after ethanol ingestion may explain the lower risk of myocardial infarction and death from coronary disease after moderate drinking. Increases in serum lactate, resulting from the increased NADH/NAD+ ratio, and hyperuricemia, most likely the result of increased turnover of adenine nucleotides, are common transient effects of ethanol ingestion. Causes of vitamin deficiencies in alcoholism are decreased dietary intake, decreased intestinal absorption, and alterations in vitamin metabolism. Ethanol decreases thiamine absorption and decreases the enterohepatic circulation of folate. Acetaldehyde increases the degradation of pyridoxal 5'-phosphate by displacing it from its binding protein and making it susceptible to hydrolysis by membrane-bound alkaline phosphatase. Ethanol decreases hepatic vitamin A concentration and its conversion to active retinal, and modifies renal metabolism of vitamin D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-138
Number of pages5
JournalFederation Proceedings
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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