Brain & development

Maternal omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on vitamin B12 rich diet improves brain omega-3 fatty acids, neurotrophins and cognition in the Wistar rat offspring.

PMID 24418228


The consequences of wide spread vegetarianism due to low vitamin B12 on brain development and functioning is gaining importance. However, there are no studies which have evaluated exclusively vitamin B12 supplementation during pregnancy on brain growth. A series of our animal studies have documented adverse effects of maternal micronutrient imbalance on brain neurotrophins and its amelioration by omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, the present study investigated the effect of maternal supplementation with vitamin B12 alone and B12 plus omega-3 fatty acid on pup brain fatty acids and neurotrophins at birth and 3 mo of age. Pregnant Wistar rats and their male offspring were assigned to 3 dietary groups: Control (normal vitamin B12 (25 μg/kg), vitamin B12 supplemented (BS) (50 μg/kg), vitamin B12 supplemented with omega-3 fatty acid (BSO) till 3 month of age. Maternal vitamin B12 supplementation (BS) increased brain BDNF (protein and mRNA) and DHA levels in pups at birth and in the hippocampus at 3 month of age (BDNF only). These effects were further enhanced by omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to vitamin B12 supplemented group. The spatial memory performance was found to be enhanced in BSO group which was characterised by less number of errors in radial eight arm maze. Our results indicate that a combination of omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin B12 enriched diet may exert beneficial effects on synaptic plasticity and cognition, which may prove beneficial for mental health, particularly in preventing neurocognitive disorders.