According to a new study finding, children born to mothers with vitamin B12 deficiency during gestation are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin B12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is found in animal products such as milk, eggs, fish, meat and poultry. This nutrient is essential for various bodily functions such as red blood cell formation, neurological functioning and DNA synthesis. The daily recommendation of Vitamin B12 in children aged 14 years is 2.4 micrograms, while in expected mothers and nursing mothers it is 2.6 and 2.5 micrograms, respectively.
The study has found that women with vitamin B12 deficiency during pregnancy are more likely to have high body mass index (BMI) and low premature babies with high cholesterol. In addition, babies are known to have higher insulin resistance in childhood with increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, children born to women with low vitamin B12 are known to have more than normal leptin level, which may increase the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Researchers have found that excess weight can increase the leptin level, causing letpin resistance. This can lead to overeating, weight gain and insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes.
However, researchers are not able to pinpoint the exact mechanism by which deficiency of vitamin B12 in pregnancy increases leptin level in offspring. Either B12 deficiency causes fat accumulation in the foetus, or low B12 leads to chemical imbalance in the placental genes that secrete leptin.
If the precise mechanism is found, the current vitamin B12 recommendations during pregnancy may need to reviewed.
Vitamin B12 supplement can help correct the deficiency. However, it is important for expecting mothers to speak to their doctors before using any vitamin-based supplements. Some of them may contain ingredients that are not advised during pregnancy.