A study recently conducted by scientists at the University of California at Irvine disclosed that excessive alcohol consumption may impair the ability of the body to absorb Vitamin C. The researchers concluded that consuming alcohol on a chronic basis poses a nutritional risk to the pancreas, and might contribute to the development of ailments such as pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Human beings and most mammals possess an organ called the pancreas, which secretes digestive enzymes and insulin, a hormone that plays an important role in the regulation of blood sugar levels.
Dr. Hamid Said reported the research team’s findings in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology. The study indicated that pancreatic cells must absorb nutrients from the bloodstream in order to function optimally. Vitamin C assists the functioning of cells in the pancreas, the researchers concluded. They noted that a protein called sodium dependent Vitamin C transporter 2, or “SVCT-2” carried Vitamin C into pancreatic cells.
The research team fed mice a diet in which a quarter of the calories consumed derived from alcohol, in an effort to model human alcoholism. They discovered that both the alcohol-consuming mice and human pancreatic tissue exposed to the same blood levels of alcohol as chronic alcoholics displayed significantly fewer SVCT-2 transport cells.
As a result of the study, medical experts cautioned that alcoholism may place patients at a heightened risk of pancreatic disease and low Vitamin C absorption levels. The study may hold important implications for diabetics in particular.