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How much alcohol should I have?


Hello and thank you for your question!

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, alcohol is recommended to be consumed in moderation  - up to 1 drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men and only by adults of legal drinking age (1). Examples of 1 drink include a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounces of a distilled spirit (like vodka or bourbon). This guideline is not intended as a weekly average, but rather the amount consumed on any single day (2). Most U.S. adults do not drink every day so it is important to focus on the amount of alcohol on the days that we do drink (2).

The Guidelines also note other people who should not drink alcohol at all, including:

  • Women who are or may be pregnant.
  • People younger than age 21.
  • People who have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that can interact with alcohol.
  • Recovering alcoholics or people unable to control the amount they drink
  • People who are doing things that require skill, coordination, and alertness, such as driving a car.
  • Women who are breastfeeding should talk with their health care provider about alcohol consumption.

There are some studies that show moderate alcohol consumption can have protective health benefits, but it is unclear if alcohol is caused these benefits (2). There are many other lifestyle factors that show strong and clear evidence that they contribute to protective health benefits, such as regular exercise and a balanced eating pattern (1). Check out our Lifestyle pages for more tips:

Hope this helps!



Anna Ng, RD



1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at

2. "Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated December 30, 2019. Accessed December 20, 2020.,adults%20of%20legal%20drinking%20age.

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Jennifer WeissmanRegistered Dietitian

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