The Best Supplement To Take Before Drinking Alcohol To Prevent A Dreaded Hangover

When you were younger, hangovers probably weren't a major cause for concern. However, as you grew older, you found yourself planning and pre-planning a night out with the hope of waking up the next morning feeling like half a human being. You know what we're talking about. You want to avoid the initially dull, then pounding headache, followed by nausea, anxiety ("Did I really tell that person I met last night all those super personal things about myself?"), and lethargy. Despite trying all the tricks of the trade, including some of those myths you should stop believing about hangover cures, and still finding yourself waking up swearing that you'll never drink again, there just might be an actual solution: a vitamin-B complex supplement.

According to clinical nutritionist Sally O'Neil, "B vitamins are essential enzymes that are used in the process of turning carbohydrates and alcohol into energy. Thus, taking more B vitamins can assist your body in efficiently metabolizing (breaking down) alcohol" (via New York Post). The trick is to take it prior to drinking, although there's no harm in taking some after too. Board-certified naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist Dr. Lana Butner recommended activated methylated vitamin-B complex, a version of vitamin B that works sooner and more effectively because it doesn't have to go through the body's usual methylation process, to The Everygirl.

Vitamin B aids your liver's detoxification process and also combats anxiety

Remember your liver? The vital organ that works overtime to clear all those harmful toxins out of your blood? Well, vitamin B can help in this area too. "Methylated forms of vitamins are highly preferred as they are more easily absorbed and processed by the body than non-methylated forms," explained Butner. "B vitamins are helpful to the liver's detoxification process, so taking them before drinking can help your body better metabolize alcohol, thereby preventing any dreaded hangover symptoms." 

Alcohol has a way of not only messing with the internal mechanisms of your body but also causing chaos in your mind. Feeling anxious after a night of heavy drinking is not uncommon. In fact, researchers have even coined the term "hangxiety" to describe the overthinking you do post-alcohol consumption (per Healthline). You probably play conversations you had the evening before over and over again in your mind in the hopes of trying to make yourself feel less worried. "Taking B vitamins can also help prevent hangxiety as B vitamins play a huge role in regulating the nervous system," added Butner. 

When choosing your hangover cure, O'Neil recommended going for quality supplements. "B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), folic acid, B6 and B12 all play a major role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system and arguably could be beneficial in this instance."

You could also try N-acetyl cysteine

A methylated vitamin-B complex isn't going to be your only saving grace. It's best to follow all those pieces of advice (myths aside) you've probably heard from well-meaning friends and family members. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach and hydrate as you go. Dehydration is one of the classic symptoms of a dreaded hangover, so drink water before, during, and after you consume alcohol. In fact, it's one of the first things you should do if you wake up with a hangover.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is also recommended as something you can take before and after you go out drinking. However, it's important to note that NAC's ability to prevent hangovers remains disputed. A study published in Scientific Reports showed that NAC was not more effective than a placebo at reducing hangover symptoms, although it suggested that it might have greater benefits for women. More research is needed to determine if NAC is actually useful for mitigating the effects of alcohol on the body.

Activated charcoal is another supplement you can try, along with other natural remedies like red ginseng and ginger. According to Butner, "Activated charcoal has been shown to help bind toxins in the stomach that have not yet entered the bloodstream and, therefore, can help flush alcohol out of the system more quickly." Despite all of these methods, however, you probably already know from experience that drinking in moderation is the best approach to avoid experiencing a nasty hangover.