Units of Alcohol

Units of Alcohol

What is a unit of alcohol?

A unit is a specific amount of pure alcohol.

It’s helpful for us know how much alcohol we’re drinking but it’s not so straightforward to work it out.  How many units each drink contains depends upon its volume and the percentage of alcohol in that volume.  One glass of wine is not always going to contain the same amount of alcohol as another, and it’s the same for beer and other types of drink too.

What is the recommended alcohol consumption?

The Chief Medical Officer recommendations are that we consume no more than 14 units of alcohol each week for both men and women.

How do I work out the number of units in my drinks?

The calculation to work out how many units there are in any drink is to look at the label on the bottle and find the volume (measured in mls) and the Alcohol by Volume or ABV information.

Then you multiply the total volume of a drink by the ABV and divide the result by 1,000.

volume (ml) x strength (ABV)




Note that a pint has a volume of 568mls

A pint of beer at 4% is 2.3 units

A pint of cider at 4.5% is 2.6 units

A 175 ml glass of wine at 11% is 2.3 units

A single serving of spirits at 40% is 1 unit  – (in England the standard serving for spirits is 1/6 gill which = c. 24ml volume).

In practice, if we want to keep within the recommended guidelines of no more than 14 units per week, this means drinking no more than six pints of beer or six 175ml glasses of wine.

A further part of the recommendations is that these 14 units are spread across the week and not all in a single session as this attracts its own adverse consequences.

What’s the problem with drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week?

Excess and even regular moderate alcohol consumption can cause health problems including increased risk of high blood pressure, cancer, liver disease, stroke, heart disease, and mental health conditions. Adverse consequences of alcohol

It’s also worth noting that alcohol is high in calories and so with higher consumption on a regular basis it can contribute to weight gain.

Why not tot up the amount of alcohol you consume in an average week.

Do get in touch if your favourite tipple isn’t easy to calculate – we’ll be happy to help.