Toronto: Babies whose mothers do not take adequate Vitamin A nutrients during their pregnancy may be at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even from the womb or just after birth, researchers have warned.
The findings showed that even a mild Vitamin A deficiency increased the production of amyloid beta — the protein that forms plaques that smother and ultimately kill neurons in Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our study clearly shows that marginal deficiency of Vitamin A, even as early as in pregnancy, has a detrimental effect on brain development and has long-lasting effect that may facilitate Alzheimer’s disease in later life,” said Weihong Song, professor at University of British Columbia in Canada.
The study, published in Acta Neuropathologica, revealed that lack of Vitamin A also affected their cognitive abilities such as learning and memory.
Previous studies have linked low levels of Vitamin A with cognitive impairments.
For this research, the team examined the effects of Vitamin A deprivation in the womb and infancy on Alzheimer’s model mice.
Even when the mice deprived of Vitamin A in the womb were given a normal diet as pups, they performed worse than mice who received a normal amount of the nutrient in the womb but were deprived after birth. In other words, the damage had already been done in the womb.
Yet, the study showed that some reversal is possible.
Mice who were deprived in utero but then given supplements immediately after birth performed better in the tests than mice who weren’t given such supplements.
“In some cases, providing supplements to the newborn Alzheimer’s disease model mice could reduce the amyloid beta level and improve learning and memory deficits,” Song added.