You asked: Why does V8 cure hangovers?

Mary
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One of our readers (okay, it was my friend Lisa) noticed a mention of "National Hangover Day" in our new-holiday contest -- a day of bleary-eyed and queasy celebration on which "V8 will be vastly discounted." Lisa wanted to know why V8 juice and other tomato products seem to cure hangovers -- and, as an ardent subscriber to that theory, I did too! It seems the theory hasn't been fully tested by science, but there are several reasons a big glass of the red stuff might help on a rough morning:

1. A lot of it boils down to dehydration. Tomatoes, those blessed vegetables fruits, are about 90 percent water. Quenching your thirst helps the liver and kidneys process the leftover alcohol in your system.

2. Too much drinky-drink also impairs the body's ability to absorb vitamins, leaving you short. (Some scientists think many hangover symptoms can be blamed on a lack of B12.) Tomatoes and tomato products are high in many nutrients, particularly vitamin C and lycopene.

3. Through a series of chemical reactions that are way too complex for this blog, drinking limits the liver's ability to supply the brain with glucose, leading to fatigue, weakness, mood swings, and decreased attention and concentration. V8 isn't quite as good on this count as orange juice -- an 8-ounce can provides 10 grams of carbohydrates (8 of them sugars) compared to 25 for the same amount of OJ -- but it's less acidic, so at least it's easier on the stomach.

As for the other hangover culprits -- an alcohol byproduct called acetaldehyde and a type of impurity in liquors and cheap wines known as a congener -- I can't seem to find any evidence that tomato juice interacts with them, but I will continue to conduct trials of my own.

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September 7, 2006 - 10:33am
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