How The Liver’s Enzymes Break Down Alcohol

July 4, 2011

Liver health is important to the body's ability to detox as well as digest food.

Most people know that drinking a lot of alcohol can be hard on the liver. It’s the liver’s job to create digestive enzymes that help break down food, as well as to cleanse and detox the blood from toxins we may eat or be exposed to.

Although enjoyed by many, alcohol is such a toxin. Too much, or over a long period of time, alcohol can damage the liver as well as other organs. When damaged, organs like the liver may not function optimally (impairing enzyme production, as well as future ability to screen and break down toxins).

Different people have different tolerances, but each person’s liver creates the enzymes that break down alcohol at a constant rate, meaning that alcohol is removed from the blood at a steady pace, rather than at a pace that matches alcohol consumption. Most people process alcohol at the rate of one drink per hour.


Liver Enzymes That Breakdown Alcohol

The first enzyme that is produced is alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks alcohol down into acetaldehyde, a cousin to formaldehyde. Some speculate that acetaldehyde may be one of the primary causes of a hangover and certain symptoms of alcohol consumption.

Next comes acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which breaks down acetaldehyde into acetic acid (vinegar).

Not everyone can produce enough/quality enzymes. Asians, for example, do not produce enough acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, causing many to have a weaker tolerance to alcohol. People with a high tolerance to alcohol usually produce more enzymes.

Other Effects Of Alcohol

Most people know about getting a “buzz” and the other mind distorting effects of alcohol, but there are other important things to know.

Alcohol can cause the effects of depressant drugs to intensify, and should not be combined with certain medications.

For insomniacs, alcohol can worsen symptoms by disrupting sleep (so even if you fall asleep quickly, the quality will be poor).
Remember, through the bloodstream, alcohol can reach all of the body, including the brain, and can damage more than just the liver.

Be careful, consume a tolerable amount (if at all) and don’t drink and drive!

What other questions do you have about alcohol and the liver?

{ 1 trackback }

Magnesium Deficiency May Be Widespread — Colloids For Life Blog
July 15, 2011 at 6:04 am

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: