As we hurtle into the festive season, a time of hedonistic indulgence and hopefully not excessive indiscretion it might be worth remembering the importance of a keystone nutrient that oversees every essential function in our body from memory and focus to energy and our capacity to feel and move. Vitamin B12 found in eggs, meat and fish, not fruit or vegetables, a quandary for vegans and vegetarians, undergirds our nervous system and the production of energy, in other words our ability to function mentally and physically. Without it we might become moody, depressed and fatigued, have difficulty focusing and remembering, words and memories we could easily retrieve suddenly eluding us, endure muscle aches, cramping, dizziness and the inability to walk steadily.
All of this in part because alcohol and wheat in pastries, cakes and confectionary, two of the mainstays of Christmas cheer are anathema to B12. There are tests to assess B12 deficiency but these can be nuanced in their interpretation and are often misinterpreted by doctors, leading to an underdiagnosis of this problem and a paucity of appropriate interventions. A lack of B12 is often best addressed with B12 injections, especially as supplementation might fail to address the shortfall.
As experts caution eating too much red meat might also lead to the overconsumption of energy and fat which might seed obesity, heart disease and even bowel cancer. With burgeoning population growth and global warming farming animals might not be sustainable. Limiting B12 consumption from meat and finding other avenues to ramp up its availability might benefit the environment and improve global food security. Health providers just need to be cognizant of its importance.