Meal planning may also help maintain a good mood at social events or business meetings by having a variety of foods and non-alcoholic beverages available along with alcoholic beverages. Serving alcohol without serving adequate food along with the alcohol can increase risk of violence for heavy drinkers if they become dehydrated and magnesium deficient.
An acute drop in magnesium levels can cause severe irritability or anger or even rage. Traditional bar snacks like popcorn or peanuts would provide magnesium, and also sodium from the salt, both of which are electrolytes that are lost with the increased urination caused by alcohol consumption. (10.7, 10.8)
A shift in brain magnesium from inside of the cell where it is protective to the outside area around the cells or within the blood vessels is also part of the cause of increased loss of magnesium with excessive intake of alcohol. In a research study with animals the sudden loss of magnesium observed in brain cells was also associated with strokes and sudden death in the animals, with a larger risk associated with larger doses of alcohol. The authors suggest the same mechanism may be occurring when strokes and sudden death occur in people after an episode of binge or heavy drinking. (10.9)
Seek medical help as treatments are available for use during severe alcohol withdrawal that can help reduce the risk of seizures and sudden death. Magnesium can be helpful in short term treatment but may not be needed long term; when alcohol is no longer being consumed the short term shift of magnesium from the brain cell interior to the extracellular space stops, and the increased urinary excretion of the electrolyte returns to normal. (10.10) *See the Effective Care Resources page for more on the topic of alcohol and medications.
Use of magnesium supplements during recovery from alcohol abuse was found somewhat helpful for reducing symptoms of depression. (10.11)
Magnesium and calcium are both electrically active and work together, magnesium causes relaxation of muscles while calcium causes contraction. A sudden increase in calcium and loss of magnesium can cause severe muscle cramps. (10.12)
- “Severe hypermagnesemia is uncommon because of the kidneys’ ability to excrete a magnesium load, but magnesium homeostasis can be easily disordered toward deficiency in malnutrition, malabsorption, renal tubular damage, diuretic therapy, and chronic alcoholism, some of the main non-endocrine causes.” (10.12)
Excessive loss of electrolytes is part of the underlying problem causing the symptoms of dehydration, so when alcohol is being served it may help promote health and a peaceful atmosphere to also offer a meal or nutrient dense snacks such as the traditional bar snacks popcorn or peanuts, or tree nuts for the allergy prone, in order to prevent magnesium deficiency.
It is also important to have water available at social or business gatherings where alcohol is being served in order to help prevent dehydration and the risk of symptoms of disorientation, irritability or rage.