Epigenetic programming is increasingly recognized as an important mechanism underlying health and disease. Exposure to diet, drugs, and early life adversity during sensitive windows of life can lead to lasting changes in gene expression that contribute to the display of physiological and behavioral phenotypes. Diet is a potent modulator of epigenetic marks, especially during prenatal and early postnatal life. For example, it has been shown that diets high in choline, methionine, folate, and vitamins B6 and B12 increase DNA and histone methylation, alter gene expression, and can result in permanent changes in development. Prof Campoy describes studies that have identified some of the mechanisms associating early nutrition with later brain developmental outcomes. She concludes that understanding these mechanisms may have an enormous preventive potential, given the major public health implications, including opportunities for an improvement of cognition and an effective primary prevention of childhood and adult behavior and mental diseases.
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