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 genetic, metabolic and physiological 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 white fat tissue increased, with serum adiponectin concentrations 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 have these effects, as it is known from a methylation and MTHFR perspective to impact on the levels of available active methylfolate in the body. The effect of folic acid supplementation on female offspring is also lacking.