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Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2


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Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) is an enzyme encoded for by the ALDH2 gene 1.  ALDH2 catalyzes the chemical breakdown of acetaldehyde into acetic acid, which is less harmful to the body and can be excreted. Acetaldehyde is commonly formed from the breakdown of ethanol and is the byproduct associated with the symptoms of hangover and skin flushing following excessive alcohol consumption.

There is one SNP in ALDH2 which is associated with impaired outcomes.


Science Grade
Immune Health
rsID Number Major Allele Minor Allele Minor Allele Frequency (%) Major Amino Acid Minor Amino Acid
rs671 g a 1.8GluLys

Risk Description

The risk ‘A’ allele of the SNP rs671 in ALDH2 is associated with reduced ALDH2 activity making carriers more likely to experience alcohol flush, and bad hangover symptoms even with a relatively low intake of alcohol 2. However other foods sources such as coffee, fermented foods, dairy products and certain processed foods can also contain high levels of acetaldehyde 3.4.

Indirect Nutrients:*

IngredientActive IngredientEffect

Glutathione is an important antioxidant in its own right, but is also used by also used by several antioxidant proteins as a cofactor 5.

When glutathione is hydrolysed the product cysteinylglycine is formed which has been shown to strongly bind with acetaldehyde, reducing its harmful impact and allowing its excretion from the body 6.

As such increasing glutathione intake may result in an overall increase in antioxidant capacity, and also help reduce the impact of acetaldehyde.

Nutritional Contraindications:*

IngredientActive IngredientEffect
Foods rich in acetlyaldehyde

While the metabolism of alcohol is a major source of acetaldehyde there are numerous other foods which also contain significant levels with coffee and certain fermented foods being particularly rich sources. For those with reduced ALDH2 activity reducing the intake of these foods may prove beneficial 3.4.

Discuss this information with your doctor before taking any course of action.

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