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Beer, Health and Nutrition


Updated May 20, 2014

Young Woman Drinking Beer
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Beer has been brewed for just about as long as humans have been cultivating crops. It's made with some very healthy ingredients: hops, brewer's yeast, barley and malt. Beer is a good source of folate, niacin, magnesium, potassium and niacin. 

Drinking one beer per day may be good for your health. It's been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Women who consume one beer each day tend to have better mental health than women who don't drink at all. Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages in moderation may also improve bone density.

The benefits of beer probably aren't due to the alcohol -- low-alcohol and non-alcohol beers offer the same heart-protective effect as regular and light beers.

Who Shouldn't Drink Beer?

Beer isn't good for everyone. Some people have personal or religious reasons for not drinking beer or other alcoholic drinks. That's fine. All of the health benefits of beer can be found in other foods beverages.

The following people should not drink beer, or should speak with their doctor before drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages:

  • Pregnant or breast-feeding women should not drink beer. Even small amounts of alcohol can damage a developing fetus.
  • People with alcoholism or drug addictions should not drink beer.
  • Young people. The drinking age in the US is 21, the drinking age in Canada is 18 or 19. Other countries vary.
  • People with liver or pancreatic disease should speak with their doctor.
  • People with gout should avoid beer. 
  • Diabetics should speak with their doctor.
  • People taking any type of medications should speak with their doctor. This includes over-the-counter medications.

The Problems with Heaving Drinking

Heavy drinking is defined as more than 21 drinks per week for women and more than 35 drinks per week for men. One bottle or can of beer (12 ounces) counts as one drink. Heavy drinking leads to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, pancreatic diseases, severe thiamine deficiency and some forms of cancer.

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