Folic acid deficiency bad for reproduction

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The fathers should also eat well

The majority of people in industrialized countries have a folic acid deficiency without even knowing it. Folic acid is also occasionally referred to as vitamin B9 or vitamin B11. Undersupply can sometimes become a problem if there is a desire to have children. Because in the body acid belonging to the group of B vitamins plays a crucial role in growth processes and cell division.

Expectant mothers should make sure that their body is adequately supplied with it. A deficiency leads to an increased risk of certain malformations in children. A blood test can be used to determine whether there is a folic acid deficiency. A natural source of folic acid is especially green leafy vegetables like spinach.

In general, smokers, alcoholics, people with chronic bleeding, people with liver problems and women who take the contraceptive pill have a folic acid deficiency. However, men should also make sure that they do not suffer from a folic acid deficiency.

In a study with male mice, Canadian scientists were able to demonstrate that a deficiency in folic acid has a negative effect on the genome before the offspring are born. If the body does not have enough of the vitamin, the genetic material within the sperm changes. The researchers around Romain Lambrot from McGill University in Québec have published their results in the journal "Nature Communications".

The scientists investigated to what extent nutrition influences their children's health. For this, the animals were given special food with little folic acid. It was shown in these animals that a deficiency causes an altered epigenic marking in the genome. As a specialty of biology, epigenetics deals with the inheritance of genetic traits and under what circumstances changes in the genetic material arise. As a rule, changes occur due to environmental factors such as smoking, alcohol or diet and change the activity of the genes. Past studies have shown that parents' experiences are passed on to their children in this way.

Folic acid deficiency can favor chronic diseases The researchers were able to show that a folic acid deficiency causes numerous epigenetic changes in the genes that are involved in the development and of some chronic diseases such as cancer or diabetes. It was shown that the offspring of the mice who had received little folic acid were born with significantly more malformations than those who had received food with enough folic acid. In 27 percent of the young animals of fathers with a folic acid deficiency, the offspring were born with visible anatomical malformations on the skeleton. In the control group it was only three percent. The study suggests that "environmental influences such as nutrition affect sperm and also have a not inconsiderable share in the development of diseases," said the researchers. (fr)

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Video: 5 tips to ensure healthy sperm - Jesse Mills, MD. UCLA Health Newsroom

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