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Hate Your Hair? Blame Your Mother's Diet


In a study that demonstrates you are what you eat, scientists have reported they have changed the fur colors of baby mice simply by altering their mothers' diets.

They changed the color of baby mouse fur by feeding pregnant mice four nutritional supplements -- vitamin B12, folic acid, choline and betaine. Mice given the supplements gave birth to babies with predominantly brown coats. Pregnant mice not fed the supplements gave birth mostly to babies with yellow coats.

The study shows that common nutrients can influence which genes turn on and off in a developing fetus, and help explain some of the factors that decide which genes are expressed and which remain silent.

The researchers noted, "We have long known that maternal nutrition profoundly impacts disease susceptibility in their offspring, but we never understood the cause-and-effect link...For the first time ever, we have shown precisely how nutritional supplementation to the mother can permanently alter gene expression in her offspring without altering the genes themselves."

There is much support for the idea that nutrition can affect gene expression in people. Several studies have shown, for example, that women who eat a poor diet while pregnant have children who grow up with a tendency to diabetes and heart disease.

In this mouse study, the gene affected by the supplements was the Agouti gene. This gene affects more than fur color. Mice with overactive Agouti genes tend to be obese and susceptible to diabetes.

The supplements had the effect of turning the Agouti gene "off" so that it could not exert its influence on the embryonic mice. The result was that the baby mice had a different color fur for the rest of their lives. Turning off the Agouti gene during pregnancy also causes the mice offspring to be less prone to obesity and diabetes.

Bottom Line: 1. What you eat will profoundly influence your future health. 2. What your mother ate with you in her womb has profoundly influenced your past and present health -- and will influence your future health. 3. If you plan to become a mother, what you eat at conception and during early pregnancy will profoundly influence your child's future health.

We urge you to consult with one of our doctors about the dietary and environmental changes you need to make in order to get your genes to support your health and the health of your future children. Please understand that healthy genetic activity is under threat by our polluted world and the degraded, adulterated foods that we eat. Call today!

Source: Waterland RA et al, Transposable Elements: Targets for Early Nutritional Effects on Epigenetic Gene Regulation, Molecular and Cellular Biology, August 2003, 23(15):5293-5300