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Why Do Hangovers Get Worse As We Age?

We asked the professionals.

hangovers get worse with age
Remember the days when you could rage until an ungodly hour and make it to class in the morning with nary a headache? Or drink a Hendricks martini, then switch to pinot grigio without feeling like a shell of a human for the next three days straight? Once you hit your late 20s, the days of the non-hangover hangover disappear.

OK, so sure, you’ve likely grown out of your college-era partying ways, but enjoying a few post-work cocktails with friends seems to subject us to a head-pounding, foggy few days. So what’s the deal? We asked Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum about the physical changes that occur as we age and how they might amplify those hangover symptoms.


3 Physical Factors of a Hangover

First, it’s important to know the “three key physical factors in a hangover,” Dr. Teitelbaum explains.

1. “Dehydration.”

2. “Production of toxic chemicals from alcohol (e.g., acetaldehyde).”

3. “Depletion of the nutrients needed for brain function and to break down toxins (e.g., glutathione).”

The Age Factor

“We often make less antidiuretic hormone as we age,” explains Dr. Teitelbaum. Because this hormone communicates with your kidneys and tells them how much water to converse, Dr. Teitelbaum says you “may be more prone to dehydration.”

“Our liver detox systems also can have slightly diminished function over time,” Dr Teitelbaum stresses, so it may take your body a longer time to filter out toxins produced by alcohol consumption.

“Caloric, and therefore protein and other nutritional intake, often diminishes with age. This limits the speed of our detoxification mechanisms,” he adds.

How to Mitigate the Effects of a Hangover

Stay hydrated

“Drinking a large amount of water between drinks and prior to sleep helps. Leave a glass of water at your bedside to drink if you wake up. Urinate during the night when the need arises—urination washes out the alcohol and toxins that cause hangover.”

Sleep it off

“If possible, let yourself sleep it off while continuing to hydrate.”

Recommended Supplements

Multivitamin powder

“Taking high-dose B vitamins (B complex 50 mg), NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) 250 mg, glutamine 1,000 mg, glycine 750 mg, vitamin C 500-750 mg, and magnesium 150-200 mg daily (and when drinking) may leave one less prone to hangovers.

[Editor’s Note: As ever, we are not doctors or medical know-it-alls. And everybody is different, so make sure to check with a doctor before trying anything new.]

Photo: Shot on site at 6 Columbus, a Sixty Hotel. Sunglasses, Dior.

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