Yvonne Lamers

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms
Breast Feeding and Infant Nutrition
Clinical Chemistry
Maternal and child health
Newborn Screening
Nutritional Biochemistry
Nutritional Biomarker
Periconceptional folic acid supplementation
Prenatal Supplements
Toddler Nutrition

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs



My research interests relate to underlying mechanisms of nutrition and chronic disease risk. I am eager to contribute to targeted and population-based prevention strategies of chronic diseases. My research specifically focuses on B-vitamins and their functions in human metabolism. B-vitamins are essential nutrients for normal cell growth and the nervous system and thus have an impact on human health from the embryo to the older adult. Low folate and/or vitamin B-12 status may yield pregnancy complications, low birth weight, cancer, and cognitive impairment.

The overarching theme of my research is nutrient adequacy. My research projects aim to investigate metabolic and functional effects of nutritional inadequacies and micronutrient interactions in various population groups. The studies will help elaborate potential underlying mechanisms responsible for linkages between B-vitamin intake and chronic diseases and in the evaluation of optimal vitamin intake to maintain biochemical functions. I am specifically interested in investigating the metabolic effects of folic acid and less than optimal vitamin B-12 intake.

Research Methodology

Randomized Controlled Trials
Human intervention studies
Pregnancy-newborn cohort studies
Nutritional biomarker
Small molecule analysis
Targeted metabolomics
Stable isotope tracer kinetics
Mass Spectrometry


Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round

My enthusiasm for research draws from my interest in the biochemistry and physiology of nutrition-related diseases and in targeted and population-based strategies of chronic disease prevention and optimal health promotion. My research focuses on micronutrients and specifically B-vitamins and their kinetics and functions in human metabolism. B-vitamins are required for normal cell growth and neurological function and thus have an impact on human health from the embryo to the older adult. Low folate and/or vitamin B-12 status may yield pregnancy complications, low birth weight, cancer, and cognitive impairment. The overarching theme of my research is micronutrient adequacy. My current research projects focus on maternal-fetal nutrient dependency, periconceptional vitamin adequacy, and the role of maternal and infant nutrition on growth and development. In the UBC Nutritional Biomarker Laboratory that I established, my team has set up a wide array of externally validated analytical methods. One of our goals is to identify sensitive nutritional biomarkers for early diagnosis of micronutrient inadequacies. With the use of stable isotope tracer protocols, we are able to investigate metabolic and functional consequences of nutritional inadequacies and micronutrient interactions in various population groups. The studies will help elaborate potential underlying mechanisms responsible for linkages between B-vitamin intake and chronic disease risk and in the evaluation of optimal vitamin intake to maintain biochemical functions. I am interested in supervising graduate students with strong interests in biochemistry, nutrition, and biomarker analysis. Ideal candidates have strong communication skills for interaction with study participants and have experience or high interest in potential projects with a wet lab component. To read more about our current projects, team members, or highlights, please see: www.vitamins.landfood.ubc.ca

CURRENT OPENING: 1 postdoc position, CIHR-funded project to determine vitamin adequacy in reproductive-aged women. The candidate has a background in nutrition, biochemistry, life science, or related fields, preferably with experience in the conduct of clinical trials, participant recruitment and correspondence, and has strong communication skills and is highly organized. The candidate will join a dynamic team of graduate students and clinical research assistants, as well as lab technicians, to undertake this interdisciplinary project. If interested, please send your resume to yvonne.lamers@ubc.ca.

I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).
I am interested in hiring Co-op students for research placements.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Maternal methyl nutrients, obesity programming, and neonatal anthropometric outcomes (2020)

Maternal folate, riboflavin, betaine, choline, and vitamins B-6 and B-12 (B-12) concentrations, also known as methyl nutrients, have an interrelated role in fetal growth and DNA methylation. To date, the relationship between individual maternal methyl nutrient concentrations and neonatal anthropometric outcomes have shown conflicting results, while the interrelationship of maternal methyl nutrient concentrations and their association with DNA methylation levels of fetal growth and obesity-related genes in the offspring is unknown. The overall goal of my thesis was to provide novel evidence of the interrelationship of maternal methyl nutrients during early pregnancy i.e., 1360 nmol/L was tested, and whether these CpG sites were associated with maternal methyl nutrient patterns. Infant DNA methylation levels did not significantly differ by maternal folate concentration and were not significantly associated with maternal methyl nutrient patterns. In summary, these results indicated that betaine and total B-12 were the main drivers of maternal methyl nutrients patterns in these folate-replete populations. However, the lack of association between maternal methyl nutrient patterns with neonatal anthropometric outcomes and DNA methylation levels of fetal growth and obesity-related genes in infants suggests the need for a better understanding of the role of these nutrients in fetal programming and growth.

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Vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy and infancy: screening tools and assessment of populations at risk for deficiency (2017)

Low perinatal and infantile vitamin B-12 (B-12) status have been associated with health complications. South Asians and residents of low- and middle-income countries may be at increased risk for low B-12 status. The overall goal was to facilitate and screen for perinatal, neonatal, and infantile B-12 status. First, a reliable (recovery: 93–98%; CV: 29.3 pmol/8-mm punch was computed per clinical guidelines (CLSI EP18-A3c). Further, B-12 status of South Asian and European pregnant women and their newborns living in Vancouver were compared. B-12 status was assessed in 748 healthy Vancouver women (50% South Asian, 50% European) during their 1st and 2nd trimester of pregnancy using multiple B-12 biomarkers, and in their newborns using DBS MMA concentration. South Asian pregnant women had a significantly lower B-12 status than European women, e.g. comparing 1st trimester mean (95% CI) serum total B-12 concentrations [189 (180; 199) pmol/L versus 246 (236; 257) pmol/L; P
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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Derivation of pediatric reference intervals for vitamin B-12 biomarkers and comparison of their diagnostic ability in children at risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency (2021)

Background: Early detection of vitamin B-12 (B-12) deficiency through reliable biomarkers is critical to prevent poor development and life-long health consequences. Children with short bowel syndrome (SBS) are at risk of B-12 deficiency. Serum total B-12 is the most commonly used B-12 biomarker but there is ambiguity to its performance. Holotranscobalamin (holoTC), the B-12 form taken up by cells, may be a more sensitive biomarker. Methylmalonic acid (MMA) is a functional and sensitive biomarker, but lacks availability in clinical laboratories. Overall, the utility of B-12 biomarkers in the pediatric population is limited, in part due to the lack of age-specific cutoffs. Objectives: 1) To derive age- and sex-specific reference intervals for serum holoTC and MMA concentrations in healthy children, and 2) to compare the diagnostic ability of total B-12 and holoTC to detect functional B-12 deficiency in pediatric SBS patients.Methods: The project consisted of 1) the secondary analysis of bio-banked serum samples for MMA and holoTC from 337 healthy Canadian children aged 0-18 years, and of 2) a descriptive, prospective study with 26 SBS patients from the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. Clinical and dietary data, and blood samples for quantitation of B-12 biomarkers, were collected over 2 years. Results: 1) Age-group partitions but no sex partitions were identified for MMA and holoTC. Upper reference limits (97.5th percentiles) for MMA were calculated for infants aged 0-
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Development of a vitamin B12 fortified yoghurt and its efficacy on vitamin B12 status in older adults (2020)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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Biochemical riboflavin status and its predictors in adult women aged 51-70 years in Metro Vancouver (2019)

Background: Riboflavin, or vitamin B-2, functions as a coenzyme in numerous metabolic pathways and is essential for adequate cell growth. Riboflavin status has been shown to be inversely associated with the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation coefficient (EGRac) is a functional indicator and considered as the ‘gold standard’ biomarker of riboflavin status. Previous studies have reported a high prevalence of biochemical riboflavin deficiency but a low prevalence of dietary inadequacy in adults aged ≥65 years. In Canada, 3% of adult women aged 51-70 years had inadequate dietary riboflavin intake; however, data are lacking on biochemical riboflavin status.Objectives: The objectives of this research were to determine the biochemical riboflavin status, and to identify the dietary, demographic and lifestyle predictors of riboflavin status in adult women (aged 51-70 years) in Metro Vancouver.Methods: This secondary analysis used data and biospecimens from a cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of 223 adult women age 51-70 years. A fasting blood sample, blood pressure measurements, sociodemographic, anthropometric and dietary intake data were collected during a single-day study visit. Riboflavin status was measured using EGRac. Plasma riboflavin concentration was analyzed using an in-house validated liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay.Results: Overall, 29% of the study population had riboflavin deficiency (EGRac ≥1.4) and 22% had suboptimal status (EGRac ≥1.3 and
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Maternal vitamin B12 status in early pregnancy and its association with birth outcomes and newborn vitamin B12 status (2019)

Vitamin B₁₂ (B₁₂), a coenzyme required for DNA synthesis, methylation, and myelination, is important for fetal growth and development. Lower maternal B₁₂ status has been associated with preterm birth (
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Association of maternal folate and vitamin b12 status with birthweight and gestational age at birth in mother-newborn dyads residing in British Columbia (2018)

Birthweight and gestational age at birth have been inversely associated with chronicdisease risk in later life. The vitamins folate and vitamin B12 (B12) have interdependentmetabolic functions that are essential for fetal growth. Maternal folate and B12 concentrationsduring pregnancy have been positively associated with birthweight and gestational age at birth;however, the findings from the literature are inconsistent. The objective of this research was toevaluate the association of maternal serum folate and B12 biomarker concentrations, combinedand individually, with birthweight and gestational age at birth.This retrospective cohort study included biobanked non-fasting serum samples and datafrom 674 apparently healthy pregnant women of South Asian and European ethnicity residing inLower Mainland, British Columbia (BC). Maternal serum samples, collected in the first andsecond trimesters of pregnancy, were retrieved from the BC Prenatal Genetic Screening Programand analysed for folate and B12 biomarker concentrations. Birth outcome data were retrievedfrom the BC Newborn Screening Program. The association of folate and B12 biomarkerconcentrations with birth outcomes was assessed using multiple linear regression models withadjustment for confounding factors, including infant sex, ethnicity and maternal age.The prevalence of low birthweight, preterm and small-for-gestational-age were 1.9%,8.9% and 0.88%, respectively. The combined maternal folate and B12 status, in either trimester,was not associated with birthweight or gestational age at birth. Maternal B12 biomarkerconcentrations individually, in either trimester, were not or only weakly associated with birthoutcomes. Second-trimester maternal folate concentrations of the second, third and fourthquartile group (Q2=55.5-69.3, Q3=69.3-87.8, Q4≥87.8 nmol/L, respectively) were associatedwith an approximate 0.6-week (i.e., 4-day) increase in gestational age at birth, compared to theiiireference group (Q1≤55.5 nmol/L) (95% CI: 0.28, 1.02, p=0.02; 95% CI: 0.23, 0.95, p=0.03,95% CI: 0.16, 0.89, p=0.005, respectively).In conclusion, early pregnancy folate and B12 status were neither combined norindividually associated with birthweight in this sample. Due to the vitamins’ importance in fetalgrowth and development, the association between maternal folate and B12 status and birthoutcomes warrants further investigation in a population with a higher prevalence of lowbirthweight and preterm birth.

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Vitamin B6 status of young and older adult women in Metro Vancouver (2017)

Vitamin B6 (B6) plays an essential role in the metabolism of amino acids, synthesis of neurotransmitters, and regulation of energy homeostasis. B6 deficiency, plasma pyridoxal 5’-phosphate (PLP) concentration
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Assessmentof the rate and determinants of vitamin B12 deficiency in South Asian and European women of childbearing age in Metro Vancouver (2014)

Low maternal vitamin B12 (B12) status has been associated with an increased risk for adverse offspring health outcomes, including neural tube defects and insulin resistance. High rates of B12 deficiency have been reported in South Asians, who comprise one of Canada’s largest minority groups, and Canadian women of childbearing age. Comprehensive B12 status assessment should include multiple biomarkers to reduce the risk of misclassification. However, there is no consensus on the appropriate cut-off values to define chronic and marginal B12 deficiency. Our goal was to assess the rate and determinants of B12 deficiency in healthy South Asian and European women in Metro Vancouver using multiple biomarkers. We conducted a cross-sectional descriptive study in a convenience sample (n=207) of South Asian and European women (19-35y). Anthropometric measurements and questionnaire data on demographics, lifestyle and diet were collected. Vitamin B12 status was assessed using serum vitamin B12 (SB12), serum holotranscobalamin (holoTC) and plasma methylmalonic acid (MMA) as biomarkers. The association of lifestyle, social, dietary, and genetic variables with B12 status was examined using multiple regression models. Using conventional SB12 concentration cut-offs, 14% of participants with biochemical data (n=204) were classified with chronic deficiency (SB12
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