Supplements for Recovery


Supplemental vitamins, minerals, and especially omega-3 fatty acids can be critical for recovery from alcohol use disorder. The allow the body and brain to heal from the effects of heavy alcohol consumption.  After several weeks of eating well and supplementation, many people suffering with AUD find that their mind is clear to have a successful recovery.  In addition to eating the best diet that you possibly can, I recommend the following:

1) Vitamin D 10,000 IU / day

2) Vitamins C, 1,000 MG / day

3) Magnesium, 300 mg / day

4) Zinc, 50 mg / day

5) Probiotic containing Lactobacillus GG

6) B Vitamin Complex (Dose as specified below)

7) Omega-3 fatty acid, 9 grams of EPA+DHA / day (As specified below)


My clinical experience and unpublished research suggests that recovery is easier for people who eat fish frequently and consequently have higher blood levels of omega-3 essential fats. Omega-3 fat in food from the ocean can help stabilize your mood, and fish oil supplements may help you control your temper.  The most dramatic demonstration that omega-3 in fish oil can help people with mood swings was a study conducted at Harvard with people with severe Bipolar Disorder who were given a high, anti-inflammatory dose of fish omega-3.  This study is seen here:

I recommend that you enjoy olive oil, coconut oil, and "grass fed" butter but avoid the omega-6 fat found in oil from soy, peanut, safflower, corn, or meat from animals fattened on these seeds: omega-6 fat can promote inflammation throughout the body and brain. 

For humans, the three most important types of omega-3 fatty acids are ALA, DHA and EPA. Our dietary supply of ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, comes mostly from plants, seeds, and nuts. DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, as well as EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid, comes from seafood; taken together, these fats are essential for humans.

Omega-3 fat counteracts the inflammatory effect of excessive omega-6 fat in the typical American diet.  Consuming five grams, (5,000mg)) of the long chain omega 3 fats, DHA + EPA, daily for three months is typically required to reduce inflammation. Five grams, (5,000mg) of omega-3 represents about a pound of canned salmon, or as many as 20 soft gel capsules, so it is often easier take liquid. 

The best way to get omega-3 fat is from ocean fish. The benefits of eating fish far outweigh any risk of Mercury in fish; fish oil contains only insignificant amounts of Mercury. Many people prefer to get omega-3 from fish oil in liquid or pill form.  Side effects, if any, include belching fish smell or upset stomach.  To minimize such problems, keep capsules in the freezer, so that they only melt once they have passed through the stomach.

Fax seed oil contains ALA, a shorter chain omega-3 fat which the body can sometimes convert into significant amounts of DHA or EPA, but there is less evidence that this form of omega-3 fat is therapeutic. 

You can read stories about omega-3 fatty acids on my website and get scientific details in a book chapter I wrote:


For those who do not mind the taste, generic cod liver oil, two tablespoons daily may be the most inexpensive way to get an anti-inflammatory dose of omega-3 fat. I like cod liver oil because it has been used for centuries for children and adults and has a great safety record.  Nordic Naturals Orange Flavored Cod liver oil was my children’s favorite.  Each 5 ml (one teaspoon) of this omega-3s liquid provides 340mg of EPA and 510mg of DHA along with other fatty acids. Two tablespoons daily gives an “anti-inflammatory” dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

Other products have a higher concentration of EPA relative to DHA than Cod liver oil, and this characteristic may help to improve depression. One such product, Nordic Naturals Omega 3 liquid, is popular for this purpose.  Two tablespoons daily will likely give the 9,000+ mg of DHA + EPA,  and is an “anti-inflammatory” dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

To make liquid cod liver oil easier to take, you can mix it with back cherry concentrate:

If taking a liquid is difficult, taking capsules can work, although to consume 9,000 mg of EPA+DHA each day requires taking as many as 15 capsules daily, depending on their composition.  


Heavy drinkers are prone to B vitamin deficiencies, and this can promote brain problems that make it harder to stop drinking. All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which is used to produce energy, and a lack of these vitamins can cause a variety of problems.  Supplementation is indicated for heavy drinkers; sometimes supplementation may even make it easier for people to control their drinking.  

•    Vitamin B1 (thiamin) —is frequently a critical problem in heavy drinkers.  A deficiency may cause Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, a potentially fatal condition. The recommended supplementation dose is 50-100mg daily when someone is undergoing detoxification.  Low serum thiamin levels are associated with increased alcohol craving, depression, irritability and can cause neurological and cardiac disorders.
•    Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) — Deficiency is common in heavy drinkers and can cause mood disorders.
•    Vitamin B3 (niacin) —Research in animals indicates that supplemental niacin can reduce alcohol consumption. Niacin may protect the liver against acute toxic effects of alcohol, and depletion can cause anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
•    Vitamin B5, (Pantothenic acid)— Symptoms of deficiency are fatigue, chronic stress and depression.
•    Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) — Deficiencies can disrupt the formation of neurotransmitters and deficiency can cause mood disorders.
•    Vitamin B7 (biotin) – Deficiency can influence the hair and nails.
•    Vitamin B9, (folate or folic acid)— Deficiency is a common cause of depression. Supplementation of Folate may not be as effective in some people if it’s not given in a more bioavailable form as is found in the natural diet, such as L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate, L-Methyltetrahydrofolate.  These more bioavailable forms, as well as SAMe, may be especially useful in depressed patients who have the genotype coding for an enzyme (MTHFR or methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase)  that causes inefficient synthesis. Natural (dietary) folates are more bioavailable than folic acid used in food fortification.
•    Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) - Deficiency will cause depression and neurological problems.  The most effective supplementation is with intramuscular injections but a high oral dose can also be effective. 

Here are some good B vitamin complex products; those listed here are provided for convenience and not as an endorsement.

CONTENT IS INFORMATION ONLY AND NOT ADVICE -- In offering information on this site, ALcohol Recovery Medicine is not forming or attempting to form a doctor-patient relationship with anyone, or to diagnose or treat anyone. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or for any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for seeking any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication or changing its dose, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.  If you are in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers a free, 24-hour hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.  We do not offer nor do we attempt to offer nor are we equipped to offer crisis counseling or emergency services. Please see Terms & Conditions. and our Privacy Policy.                                           


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