I promise, this will be my last post on alcohol, at least for a little while! And for those of you who think I’m just this crazy party girl, you’re wrong. I’m actually a rare exception. I’m a newly 21-year-old that doesn’t really drink alcoholic beverages. I tend to stick to my diet coke and ice tea! However, to retire my alcohol posting days, I wanted to leave you all with one more booze post.
Metabolism. Metabolism was the topic of my food toxicology lecture today, and I learned some super interesting facts about the metabolism of alcohol that I would like to share.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get super scientific on you, well maybe just a little….
So, here’s some science….
Primarily located in our stomach lining and our livers is an enzyme known as Alcohol Dehydrogenase, let’s call it ALD. ALD (with the help of NAD+ or NAHP) catalyzes the conversion of alcohols to aldehydes or ketones, both of which are toxic. Acetaldehyde (an aldehyde formed when alcohol is catalyzed by ALD) is what causes flushing, headaches, nausea, and vomiting; in other words, your common dreaded hangover! However, the aldehyde, in this case acetaldehyde, is further detoxified in the body by the enzyme Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (AD). AD oxidizes aldehydes to their corresponding acids so that they can be conjugated and detoxified and ultimately excreted from the body!
And to end with a bang…
#1. Genetic variation (polymorphism) between two people can make a difference in one’s ability to metabolize alcohol. One may have a fast type of AD which detoxifies the acetaldehyde quickly, while the other may have a slow type of AD which keeps acetaldehyde concentrations high and in turn makes you feel sick!!!
#2. Asians. Unfortunately, slow AD genotypes are found in Asian populations.
#3. Male vs. Female. Males and females have different levels of the detoxifying enzymes.
#4. Building up your tolerance. You always hear college students say “I need to build up my tolerance.” But what does that really mean?? Well, by slowly, but frequently, “building up” your alcohol intake every time you drink, you are also up-regulating the enzymes that help detoxify the alcoholic beverages, in turn building your tolerance.