Did you know that this week we celebrate brain awareness? And did you know that studies have shown that Vitamin B12 seems to contribute to higher IQ in children? A study conducted by the department of pharmacology at the University of Oxford found that children born to mothers with a higher dietary intake of vitamin B12 had a slightly higher IQ than other children, and that those with mothers carrying putative vitamin B12-increasing alleles were more likely to have a higher IQ than those born to mothers without these alleles. This study collected extensive data from the mothers and their offspring from pregnancy onwards by questionnaire, abstraction from medical notes, record linkage and by attendance at research clinics. Cognitive testing was carried out by trained psychologists during a clinic visit when the children were 8 years old using a shortened version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III). Psychologists found that on average, children had higher IQ scores when their mothers presented higher levels of vitamin B12 during gestation.
If you are pregnant, or trying to conceive, you know that taking folate is essential for the healthy development of your baby. But according to the World Health Organization, vitamin B12 is just as important in preventing neural tube and other neurological defects in infants and unfortunately as many as 1 in 20 adults is deficient in this essential vitamin. Vitamin B12 is also important because it helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. A vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with increased risk for several adverse pregnancy outcomes for both mother and fetus. These risks include neural tube defects, intrauterine growth retardation, preeclampsia and early miscarriage. If you’d like to know more about Vitamin B12, please visit Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center.
Vitamin B-12 Status during Pregnancy and Child’s IQ at Age 8: A Mendelian Randomization Study in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
Multiple studies have been conducted on the subject of MTFHR mutations and their impact on how our body work on a daily basis. MTHFR’s function in our body is to perform a process called methylation inside our cells. By doing so, MTHFR can help create, convert, and alter compounds within our cells. Methylation impacts many processes. It is involved in cellular repair and the production of DNA. It helps with neurotransmitter production and it is also vital in the formation and development of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and the maintenance of a healthy immune system.
Research studies including “Assocation between MTHFR C677T polymorphism and depression: an updated meta-analysis of 26 studies” and “ Angiotensin converting enzyme and MTFHR gene variations in fibriomyalgia syndrome” have found that there is in fact a strong link between MTFHR variations and detrimental health conditions such as depression, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, among others. These studies have also shown that active forms of vitamin B12 and folinic acid are helpful in treating the negative effects of the mutation.
Today, over 60% of the world’s population has a vartiation on their MTHFR gene. Although some people never present negative side effects or health conditions due to this muation, an increasing number of people suffer consequences from the mutation. This in part is because epigenetic plays a huge role. Epigenetic is the non-genetic influence of gene expression. Simply put, our diet, stress levels, environment, lifestyle can have an impact on how the gene is expressed. Screening for MTFHR mutation is highly recommended for all patients who suffer from chronic mental, neurological, pain conditions such as depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and ADHD, as well as histamine related conditions such as hives and itchy skin.
Let’s talk about Epigenetics! The field of Epigenetics studies the different changes in organisms caused by the modification of gene expression rather than alteration in the genetic code itself. Now, you may be wondering how is this field relevant to you, your health and your everyday life style choices? Environmental factors such as your daily diet, smoking patterns and stress levels have been shown to impact gene expression through epigenetic mechanisms. In other words, research studies suggest that your lifestyle habits directly impact your organism and the way your genes are expressed.
Let’s take a look at one particular study that focused on testing this idea! A recent experiment performed by BMC Physiology scientists on mice, had the purpose of determining how their immune system responded to a typical Western diet. When mice were fed a Western diet, systemic inflammation occurred which was entirely expected. However, what was particularly interesting was that the Western diet fundamentally changed their immune system. After eating a high calories, low nutrient food, not only did the mice exhibit more systemic inflammation, but their white blood cells became programmed to remain hyper-sensitive to inflammatory triggers. In other words, their diet caused a drastic change tot their cellular “memory”, making their cells more vulnerable to inflammatory responses. These results may help explain why chronic inflammation is behind so many lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Studies like this one and many others conducted recently, show significant evidence that demonstrate the impact that your environment and life style choices have on your body. They also suggest that making healthier choices lower the chances of detrimental gene expression changes.
If you’d like to learn more about ways to improve your diet or get tested for food
allergies, give Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center a call and we’d be happy to schedule an appointment for you!