Reduced folate levels have been linked with altered DNA function (methylation) in the liver of people with Diabetes Type 2 according to a recent study. The epigenetic link has been found between diet and Type 2 diabetes. Folate levels within the body have also been found to be reflected in foods rich in folate and these include dark green leafy vegetables and legumes.
The researchers believe that on the basis of their results, insufficient folate intake may result in epigenetic changes in the liver. This can contribute to the pathogenesis of Type 2 Diabetes, according to Jussi Pihlajamäki, Professor of Clinical Nutrition at The University of Finland.
It is well known that genes increase the risk of Diabetes Type 2 but it has also been shown that even those who are genetically disposed can reduce their risk by following a healthy lifestyle. Epigenetics or environmental factors may be able to explain how lifestyle affects the genetic risk of a condition, rather than the gene itself.
Epigenetic mechanisms create stable, permanent or heritable changes in gene activity without actually changing the gene itself. One of these mechanisms is DNA methylation that with the addition of a methyl group to the DNA, can result in reduced gene expression.
The liver normally plays a vital role in maintaining glucose homeostasis within healthy people, but in those who have Diabetes Type 2, this fails to happen. It remains unknown whether some of this pathology could be due to altered DNA methylation.
What the Research Involved
Pihlajamäki along with researchers from Lund University in Sweden investigated the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern in the liver of 35 subjects with Type 2 Diabetes along with 60 non-diabetic controls. There were also comparisons made between the methylation differences to gene expression and erythrocyte levels.
Their discoveries indicate that there are significant differences between diabetics and controls at 251 methylation sites. Of these, 236 displayed decreased DNA methylation in those people who had diabetes. This included sites that had previously linked genes to Type 2 diabetes and 29 genes displayed differential DNA methylation and gene expression in the liver of those who had diabetes. The decreased DNA methylation is also associated with a reduction in folate levels.
Folate has a role in serving as a methyl donor in the methylation cycle and this could explain the lack of folate in reducing DNA methylation, especially in diabetics. The research highlights the importance of taking folate to reduce the risk or severity of diabetic symptoms, fighting fatigue and healthy cell growth and repair.
Insufficient folate intake is common, particularly amongst women. While getting folate from food in the form of dark green leafy vegetables and legumes is one suggestion, using a folate supplement is a better idea and has numerous health benefits overall. A folate supplement is best as it’s a water soluble vitamin and isn’t stored in the fat cells. This means that it needs to be continuously taken as the body cannot develop a reserve.
It’s important to note however that folic acid is not suitable for everyone. Some individuals have an MTHFR gene mutation, which plays a role in the processing of amino acids. This mutation means individuals with this cannot utilise folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate. A natural form of Folate (as(6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid) , can overcome this problem for some people.
Active Life Capsules – This is a multivitamin formula containing 800mcg of Folate, along with being an all-natural source of 130 vitamins and minerals and other nutrients. This formula uses the natural form of Folate (as(6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid) meaning it’s the ideal solution for anyone looking to add more folate into their diet.
B4 Health Spray is a sublingual spray containing 400mcg of Folate as 6S-5 Methyltetrahydrofolic Acid (equivalent to 800mcg of 6S-5-methyltetrahydrofolic Acid). Folate plays an important role in DNA synthesis and repair. Using this spray regularly can help with boosting key B vitamins, vital for healthy cell growth and function.