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Some Supplements Might Make You Fat

You may be hesitant about folic acid, especially if you're an expectant mother hoping to lower your baby's risk of spina bifida, after hearing about how this chemical can make you baby more prone to obesity. But don't be...

Baylor researchers fed mice vitamin supplements of folic acid, vitamin B12, betaine and choline that add chemicals constituents called methyl groups to DNA. Just that addition alone affected animal genes over generations. The result: Mice pups in successive generations became obese.

However, there's no evidence, researchers say, folic acid alone can have this health-harming effect on your babies and it may be the result of an interaction with another unknown gene. The more likely problem: Where you're getting folic acid in the first place.

Eating whole foods rich in folic acid rather than taking supplements, as was described in this study, is the far superior option. Your best sources for folic acid are fresh, dark green, leafy vegetables preferably uncooked.

The sole caveat about the amount of vegetables you eat: How much depends on your body's unique nutritional type.

Nature.com June 2, 2006

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