Women could reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by consuming more folate, according to research carried out in Korea.
That was the conclusion after scientists sought to investigate the links between eating folate – forms of which include folic acid or Vitamin B9 – and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products. It is an essential vitamin which cannot be created by the human body, helping to create healthy proteins as well as DNA. It is also needed for cell division.
Past research has linked low levels of folate to an increased risk of cancer, anaemia, cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment, but studies have not yet looked at its association with type 2 diabetes risk.
Researchers studied the diet of 7,333 Koreans aged 40 or older, collecting information between 2-4 years during a six-year period from a questionnaire containing 106 different foods, including those with folate.
Folate levels were assessed at the start of the study and participants were also quizzed about whether they had diabetes.
Analysis showed that there were 319 new diagnoses of type 2 diabetes during the research, and women participants who consumed more folate had a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
However, there was no association between greater folate intake and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes for men, and the researchers were unable to explain why the gender disparity may occur.
Because this study was not a randomly controlled trial, the findings can demonstrate no more than an association between folate and reduced type 2 diabetes in risk. Genetic, environmental and dietary factors were not considered, and it is highly plausible that lifestyle differences were the significant factor driving reductions in type 2 diabetes risk.
However, the association remained after the results were compared with women who used vitamin supplements for folate.
The research was published by the British Journal of Nutrition.

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