Huang et al (2014) wished to examine the role maternal nutrition plays in their offspring. Sixty mice were split into 3 groups, and either fed 2mg (the control diet), 5mg (recommended supplemental intake) or 40mg (high intake) of folic acid per kg of diet. All of the male offspring were then fed a high fat diet (HFD) for eight weeks.
Before beginning the HFD, all health profiles amongst the 3 groups of offspring were comparable. After the eight weeks of feeding on the HFD, it was however found the offspring of the mothers fed a high folic acid containing diet were more likely to suffer from obesity, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance when compared to controls.
DNA methylation within fat tissue was increased, with the hormone related to breakdown of fats and glucose regulation reduced. Overall the authors suggested high maternal intake of folic acid exacerbates the effects of a high fat diet on glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in male offspring.
It is interesting that folic acid was found to play these effects, as it is known from a methylation and MTHFR perspective to impact on the levels of available active methylfolate in the body. As active folate is needed throughout the whole body for the correct production of DNA and hence cells, it can be seen how folic acid could disrupt bodily processes under adverse conditions such as a diet very high in fat, as the production of methyl groups would be compromised.