Marmite could prevent miscarriages and birth defects, study shows

A man getting Marmite out of the jar with a knife

Love it or hate it, it turns out that marmite is actually pretty good for our health. Earlier this year we reported that the salty breakfast staple has been shown to boost brain function, and now it seems that it may also be beneficial for pregnant women and their unborn babies, too.

A 12-year Australian study has concluded that marmite can reduce the risk of miscarriage and birth defects, as the high levels of vitamin B3 it contains work to treat molecular deficiencies in pregnant women.

The research

Scientists used genetic sequencing on women who had experienced miscarriages and birth defects with their babies and found a specific gene mutation that affected the production of the NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) molecule – a deficiency of which can cause damage to the development of a foetus.

Following tests on mice with the same genetic mutation, it was discovered that a supplementation of the common vitamin B3 had a positive effect – allowing the mice to produce live, healthy offspring. It is now hoped that humans could benefit in similar ways from boosted B3 consumption. Lead researcher Professor Sally Dunwoodie said:

“The ramifications [of this discovery] are likely to be huge. This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects around the world and I do not say those words lightly… [Our findings] provide new hope to the one in four pregnant women who suffer a miscarriage.”

Marmite on toast

Up your intake

So, where does marmite come into this? Well, the spread contains extremely high levels of vitamin B3, with a single serving containing 36% of the recommended daily allowance – potentially marking it out as a priority product for pregnant women the world over. But don’t worry if you’re a hater – leafy green vegetables, coffee and broccoli also contain high levels of B3.

Top ten B3 foods…

  • Marmite
  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Mushrooms
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Veal
  • Peanuts
  • Coffee
  • Chicken

However, more research needs to be done before any concrete recommendations can be made as to how women should consume B3 (a supplement is probably preferable to food, for example) but, for now, upping your daily dietary intake of the stuff is a good place to start. Time to indulge those marmite cravings!


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