Alcohol Dehydrogenase: Know How Alcohol Metabolized Inside Your Body!

  • Post category:Alcohol

Many people love drinking alcohol. It is one of the most important beverages that people prefer during parties, special occasions, festivals, etc. Its consumption makes one feel relaxed and happy.

But have you ever wondered how alcohol processed inside the body? How alcohol affects our mood? How it gets metabolized?

Since the alcohol enters our body so our body must be having a way to get it metabolized and removing it. Our body processes food we intake by the action of various enzymes. The same goes true with alcohol as well. The enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase is responsible for breaking down into corresponding aldehyde or ketone compounds that further breaks down into the form that is easily taken up by the cells.

Want to Know More What is Alcohol Dehydrogenase

Where is the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase found in the body?

The enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase is found in the liver and stomach that catalyzes the ethanol into acetaldehyde (a toxic compound) that is further broken down to acetic acid and eventually to carbon dioxide and water. Thus, it plays a vital role in processing alcoholic compounds in the body.

The one who consumes alcohol frequently. It is essential to know the liver alcohol dehydrogenase mechanism and analyze alcohol dehydrogenase deficiency to prevent themselves from the harmful effect of alcohol.

What if There is Alcohol Dehydrogenase Deficiency?

In men and in women, the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase is found at the Liver and Stomach cells. In the liver, alcohol dehydrogenase converts ethanol to harmless compounds, Carbon dioxide, and Water.

But sometimes due to overconsumption of alcohol or due to some other disease these organs are not able to produce an adequate amount of enzyme, this leads to alcohol dehydrogenase deficiency.

Now have you ever wondered what happens in the case when the body does not produce enough alcohol dehydrogenase?

Generally, a person with a deficiency of alcohol dehydrogenase would not be able to breakdown ethanol to the simple product.

Dig Deeper to Understand a Complete Alcohol Dehydrogenase Reaction

The metabolism of alcohol begins with the breakdown of ethanol to acetaldehyde. It is a toxic compound that may lead to cell and tissue damage. With the action of alcohol dehydrogenase, acetaldehyde is further converted into glutathione, which is an antioxidant.

In the insufficient amount or the higher intake of alcohol, alcohol dehydrogenase function will be inhibited, or it is incapable of metabolizing a large amount of alcohol in the blood. This results in the accumulation of acetaldehyde in the blood that further leads to its high percentage in the blood. This eventually leads to acute hangover symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, etc.

Alcohol Dehydrogenase Deficiency 

The person who is not able to produce alcohol catalyzing enzyme insufficient amount leads to the development of alcohol dehydrogenase deficiency symptoms commonly known as alcohol flush reaction.

To measure the level of flush reaction the best method is to determine the level of acetaldehyde in the bloodstream.

To improve the condition of deficiency of alcohol dehydrogenase there are some chemical drugs, that are meant to increase the level of enzyme thus help in processing alcohol at a faster rate.

The pill contains different enzymes; oxidase, catalase and aldehyde dehydrogenase thus help the body to breakdown ethanol in the blood.

Alcohol Dehydrogenase Inhibitor

Apart from the natural lowering of alcohol dehydrogenase, some alcohol dehydrogenase inhibitors compete for binding with its substrate.

The compound that inhibits liver alcohol dehydrogenase from catalyzing the reaction is 3-substituted thiolane 1-oxides (methyl, n-butyl, n-hexyl, and phenyl). It stops the enzyme from binding its substrate thus prevents the processing and metabolism of alcohol which in turn increases the acetaldehyde in the blood.

Effect of Gender and Genetics on Alcohol Metabolism

The overall effect of drinking alcohol is linked with the way it is metabolized by the body.

Since the primary enzyme that is responsible for alcohol metabolism is alcohol dehydrogenase, which is lesser in women as compared to men, therefore, it is metabolized in their body at a slower rate as compared to men.

Also, the body constitution is another important aspect that helps in knowing the metabolic effect of enzyme and alcohol metabolism. Women have more fat and lesser water than men have a slow metabolic rate thus more blood alcohol content than in men.

According to the new study it has been found that around 600,000 people regardless of their age, gender, consumption who drank alcohol and analyzed their health over time are more prone to a higher rate of stroke, fatal aneurysms, heart failure, etc.

Is Alcohol Consumption Bad For Health?

According to recent studies, it has been found that taking light drinks (one to three drinks per week) reduces the rate of occurrence of cancer or death.

Although the moderate consumption of alcohol does not harm the body, the regular consumption increases its demand thus making one the frequent drinker with a higher dose.

Some of the common effects of alcohol on our body are discussed below.

Effect of Alcohol on Brain

However, alcohol is metabolized in the liver, but its effect is displayed by its effect on the brain.

Even one or two drinks can result in slurred speech, improper coordination, etc, taking it in too much amount can have more adverse effects.

The studies revealed that alcohol dependencies are the major cause of Alzheimer’s disease and brain damage leading to dementia.

Several factors help in analyzing the extent of the impact of drinking alcohol. Some of the common things that help in determining the effect of drinking alcohol are; age, gender, tolerance, etc.

Effect on Liver

There is no doubt that it is liver damage is most common among people who drink alcohol. The metabolism of alcohol in the liver results in producing many harmful products that can damage the liver cells and decrease the life of the liver.

The first phase of liver damage begins with the symptoms of fatty liver that usually arises when too much fat builds over the liver due to alcohol consumption. This eventually leads to liver inflammation and ultimately to liver failure.


Many people start drinking alcohol only to feel good and have fun, but they do not notice when they get addicted to it.

Those one or two glasses of drink slowly starts developing an urge to drink more thus increasing your dependency.

Many people consider it normal, but its cause can be complex and can lead to many adverse effects.

Other Effects Associated With Drinking Alcohol

Although there are many harmful effects of drinking alcohol, the overall health effect varies from person to person.

It is also found to be associated with anxiety and depression. People with bad moods prefer drinking alcohol but it only fixes the problem for a short period. Drinking alcohol while in depression can worsen the mood and the overall mental health of an individual.

Thus, it is good to analyze the response of your body and mind towards drinking alcohol and to balance its consumption accordingly.

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