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For many people in the UK, alcohol plays a big part in their social lives. As Christmas approaches, it can be easy to get carried away with the celebrations. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease. But how much is too much and how do you know how many units of alcohol you are consuming? We provide guidance on understanding alcohol units and keeping track of how much you are drinking this Christmas.

  • What are alcohol units and ABV?

Alcohol units represent the quantity of pure alcohol contained within an alcoholic drink (1 unit is 10ml of pure alcohol). The number of units of alcohol in your drink depends on the size and the strength of your drink. ABV means ‘alcohol by volume’ and this is a measure of the amount of alcohol as a percentage of the total volume of a drink.

  • Calculating your units

You can find the ABV on the labels of cans and bottles. To calculate the number of units in a drink, multiply the ABV by the volume (in ml) and divide by 1000.

ABV x volume (ml) ÷ 1000 = units

  • 1 bottle of wine 750ml (ABV 13.5%) = 10 units
  • 1 pint beer / lager / cider 568ml (ABV 5.2%) = 3 units
  • 1 single spirit 25ml (ABV 40%) = 1 unit

The drinks you pour at home may be larger than the amount measured out in pubs. You could try using a measuring cup when pouring drinks at home so you can keep track of what you are drinking.

  • How much is too much?

For men and women, the maximum recommended alcohol units each week is 14, spread over 3 or more days. If you are pregnant it is recommended that you do not drink alcohol at all.

Try recording how much you are drinking over a week using a diary or alcohol tracker. Drinkaware provide assessment tools that you can use to track the amount you are drinking: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/tools

  • Support for your drinking

If you are worried about how much you, or someone you know, are drinking you can get support by visiting: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/

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