Recent research has stated that pregnant women who have vitamin B12 deficiencies are more likely to have babies with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers hypothesis that this is because a B12 deficiency may be the result of high levels of leptin, which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes.
The Link Between Vitamin B12 and Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers from the University of Warwick analysed 91 blood samples taken from mothers and their babies just after delivery. Using these samples, they analysed vitamin B12 levels.
The results stated that children born to mothers with a B12 deficiencies were more likely to have higher-than-normal leptin levels.
Leptin is a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells as a response to eating. A continuously high level of leptin can lead to leptin resistance, where our bodies stop recognising when we’re full. This leads to increased risk of insulin resistance which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes.
“The leptin can increase for two reasons,” said Adaikala Antonysunil from University of Warwick. “Either low B12 drives fat accumulation in the foetus, 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,” Antonysunil added.
“The nutritional environment provided by the mother can permanently programme the baby’s health,” said Ponusammy Saravanan from University of Warwick. “We know that children born to under or over nourished mothers are at an increased risk of health problems such as type-2 diabetes, and we also see that maternal B12 deficiency may affect fat metabolism and contribute to this risk,” he added.
However, the researchers acknowledge that more research into the findings is required. Nevertheless, they predict that as a result of more research, nutritional guidelines for pregnant women may change to include higher levels of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is commonly found in shellfish, fish, liver, red meat and eggs. Vegetarians can get B12 from cheese, low fat dairy products fortified soy products and fortified cereals.