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Vit B ‘reduces obesity risk’

20th November 2007

Mothers with healthy levels of B vitamins are less likely to produce offspring who will develop health problems such as obesity in later life, a new study claims.

Scientists at the University of Nottingham found that adult health-related disorders, particularly in men, could originate from conditions at the point of conception.

Their research revealed that small reductions in vitamin B12 and folate in parents could lead to subtle changes in offspring’s DNA.

The team studied the adult offspring of sheep deprived of B vitamins prior to conception.

The findings showed that the male offspring were 25 per cent fatter and had significantly higher blood pressure than offspring of sheep given a healthy diet.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say that mothers-to-be should ensure they are getting the right amount of vitamin B12 and folate.

B vitamins are found in natural foods such as red meat and green, leafy vegetables.

“There is no effect on fertility, or birth weight and young offspring appear quite normal,” said researcher Dr Kevin Sinclair.

“However, sweeping changes to our DNA take place during conception and we now realise that this period is particularly vulnerable to environmental influences that can affect development and lead to chemical modifications that can make permanent alterations to gene expression.

“If maternal diet is not properly balanced it can upset these processes during conception.”

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