Pregnancy Nutrition: Ensure Plenty of This Vitamin to Reduce Baby’s Risk of Diabetes

Nov 8 2016 - 4:20pm

Obviously, eating well is important during pregnancy for the health of the newborn. Good nutrition may also prevent problems that may occur in the child later in life as well.

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Pregnant women, especially those who are vegetarian, should ensure that their diet is adequate in vitamin B12. New research suggests that deficiency of this vitamin during pregnancy may predispose children to health problems later in life, including Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers with the University of Warwick have found that mothers with low B12 levels are more likely to give birth to babies who later went on to have higher cholesterol levels and higher insulin resistance in childhood.

The team hypothesized that changes associated with B12 deficiency may be the result of abnormal levels of leptin – a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells and influences satiety, or our feeling of being full after meals. This change in maternal blood levels may in tern adversely affect the genes of the fetus as it grows.

"The nutritional environment provided by the mother can permanently program the baby's health," said Dr Ponusammy Saravanan, senior author of the study.

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"Either low B12 drives fat accumulation in the fetus, and this leads to increased leptin, or the low B12 actually causes chemical changes in the placental genes that produce leptin, making more of the hormone. As B12 is involved in methylation reactions in the body which can affect whether genes are turned on and off, we suspect it may be the latter."

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, so women who eat fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk are most likely able to easily meet their need through diet. Women following a vegan diet should look for fortified plant foods, such as rice and soy beverages, meat analogs, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast for B12 – or ensure that their daily multivitamin contains the RDA.

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Reference:
University of Warwick. "Maternal B12 deficiency may increase child's risk of type-2 diabetes." ScienceDaily, 7 November 2016. .

Photo Credit:
By Michelle Bachelet - Flickr: Backstage sesión de fotos candidatos Nueva Mayoría 12/08/2013, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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