Nobody walks away from years of heavy drinking unscathed, it always takes its toll; but for some heavy drinkers, a multi decade party ends in tragedy, with Wernickes-Korsakoffs Syndrome…wet brain.
Wet brain is a tragic and often fatal syndrome of brain damage caused by years of vitamin B1 deficiency. Most people get all the vitamin B1 they need through a normal diet. Alcoholics, who may eat poorly or have damaged and ill functioning gastro intestinal systems, often do not. And the syndrome is pretty sad, with symptoms of confusion, language deficits, an ill ability to concentrate and social withdrawal just a few of many – and it can and does kill tens of thousands of Americans each year.
A simple vitamin deficiency!
So anyway, I was talking with my mom about wet brain, and she asked me why they didn’t just fortify beer with vitamin B1. And I had no idea. Why didn’t they? There must be some reason though right? It just seems too obvious a solution to such tragedy.
So anyway, a quick peek online confirmed a couple of things. Firstly, that my mom is a pretty smart cookie, and secondly that the AMA has been recommending just such a fortification, and studies have shown that it would work. An Australian study, where researchers actually did fortify beer showed that alcoholics drinking this B1 beer showed cognitive improvements, couldn’t taste the difference, and that the vitamins could be added to beer for about 20 cents per 6000 bottles!
Currently, brewers cannot legally add vitamins to beer, and some have argued that by offering vitamin enriched alcohol, some people might assume that drinking was less dangerous than it is. But hey, legislation is changeable, especially when it makes sense – when it saves lives, and I don’t think adding vitamin fortification to the small print on a case of beer is gonna’ be convincing anyone to drink more than they do now.
But there has got to be something else, right? I mean it can’t be this easy can it…
So for now, if you drink too much, make sure you take a B12 supplement, it could save your life – and maybe one day, one day soon, that just won’t be necessary, and you’ll get all you need in a few "well balanced" beers a day.