The NHS recommends:
Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day
"Regularly" means drinking every day or most days of the week.
Consistently drinking more than these amounts can risk damaging your health, with the danger increasing the longer you continue and the more you drink.
Click here to play our interactive ‘Rethink Your Drink’ game to find out your alcohol rating.
If you have any concerns about your alcohol consumption click here for information on the help and support available in Essex.
You should also take a break for 48 hours after a
heavy session to let your body recover.
Pregnant women or women trying to conceive should avoid drinking alcohol. If they do choose to drink, to protect the baby, they should not drink more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week and should not get drunk.
Additional advice from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises women to avoid alcohol in the first three months in particular, because of the increased risk of miscarriage.
Daily limits are given for regular drinking to make it clear that you can't store up your whole week's 'allowance' until the weekend and then drink heavily (this type of heavy or binge drinking is often harmful). The different limits are set as ranges ('one to two', 'two to three' and 'three to four' units) because there isn't one single amount that applies to every person every day.
The limits are lower for women because women's bodies have a higher ratio of fat to water than men, making them less able to dilute alcohol in the body and they do not process alcohol as effectively.
What is a Unit?
We measure the alcohol content of a drink in units. For instance, a pint of typical-strength bitter contains just over two units, while a glass of wine can contain anything from around 1.5 to over three, depending on the size and strength.
One UK unit is 10ml or eight grams of pure alcohol (also called ethanol).
You can calculate the units in a drink by multiplying the amount in millilitres (ml) by the strength (ABV) and dividing the result by 1000. There is a unit for every percentage point of ABV in a litre: e.g. a litre of a typical whisky (37.5 ABV) will contain 37.5 units.
To keep track of the units in your favourite drinks visit our units calculator. Then you can easily keep count and make informed choices when you're drinking.
Did you know?
- There are around 10 million people drinking above the Government's recommended limits.
- Between 15,000 and 20,000 premature deaths in England and Wales each year are associated with alcohol misuse.
- Alcohol can be fattening. If you were to add three or four gin and tonics to your usual daily diet, you could put on 4lbs over four weeks.
- Children learn their behaviour largely from their parents, so how you drink may affect how they drink too, both now and in the future.
Source: NHS www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Alcoholhome.aspx