Vanessa da Silva, PhD, RD

Assistant Professor/Assistant Specialist

School of Nutritional Sciences and Wellness


  • Postdoctoral Research, Obesity and Folate Metabolism, University of Georgia
  • PhD, Nutritional Sciences, University of Florida
  • BS, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida
  • Registered Dietitian, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Cooperative Extension Programs and Research:

Diabetes Prevention Program

While 1 in 10 Arizonans have type 2 diabetes (T2D), 1 in 3 adults have prediabetes, and most don’t know they do. Prediabetes is a condition in which blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be classified as T2D. Most people with prediabetes have no symptoms. However, it is possible to delay or prevent the onset of T2D in prediabetes. Losing weight by adopting healthy eating behaviors and increasing physical activity can cut the risk of developing T2D in half. Reducing the risk for T2D is an urgent need in Arizona. The National Diabetes Prevention Program ( is a lifestyle-based intervention offered nationwide in a concerted effort to reduce the risk of developing T2D.

The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension will begin offering the DPP across the state in 2018, providing effective, accessible, and free diabetes prevention programming to our communities.

Culinary Medicine Initiative

A new undergraduate class will teach culinary skills in the context of special diets and allow students to put those skills into action by delivering culinary medicine workshops to the community.

The objective of this program is two-fold: to develop skills and attitudes related to nutrition counseling in future health professionals, and to help members of the community address specific health concerns through their diet.

(coming soon)

Arsenic and Nutritional Status Interactions

Chronic exposure to arsenic is a risk factor for several adverse health effects, including cancers, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects. Similarly, pertubations in the folate-driven one-carbon pathways are associated to many of the same negative health outcomes. Arsenic metabolism is linked to the one-carbon (1C) pathways. Arsenic is metabolized via methylation, and the methyl donor, S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), is a product of 1C metabolism. 1C metabolism relies on folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6, as well as other nutrients such as choline, for adequate biosynthesis of SAM. Therefore, micronutrient status is linked to arsenic metabolism.

I am interested in exploring how nutritional status affects the severity of adverse effects due to arsenic exposure.


Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Kurzius-Spencer M, da Silva V, Thomson CA, Hartz V, Hsu CH, Burgess JL, O'Rourke MK, Harris RB. Nutrients in one-carbon metabolism and urinary arsenic methylation in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004. Science of the Total Environment, 2017;607-608:381-390
  • Elmer S, Harrison J, da Silva V. Social media use in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program – the perspective of educators and program participants. Journal of Extension, 2016; 54(3), Article 3FEA5
  • da Silva V, Ralat MA, Quinlivan EP, Chi Y, DeRatt B, Nijhout F, Reed MC, Gregory JF. Targeted metabolomics and mathematical modeling demonstrate that vitamin B-6 restriction alters one-carbon metabolism in cultured HepG2 cells. American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2014 Jul 1;307(1):E93-101
  • da Silva V, Hausman D., Kauwell, G., Sokolow, A., Tackett, R., Rathbun, S., Bailey, L. Obesity affects short-term folate pharmacokinetics in women of childbearing age. International Journal of Obesity, 2013 Dec;37(12):1608-10
  • da Silva V, Rios-Avila L, Lamers Y, Ralat, MA, Midttun O, Quinlivan E, Garrett TJ, Chi Y, Muller L, Ueland PM, Stacpoole P, Gregory JF. Metabolite profile analysis reveals functional effects of vitamin B-6 restriction on one-carbon metabolism and tryptophan catabolic pathways in healthy men and women. Journal of Nutrition, 2013 Nov;143(11):1719-27
  • Gregory, JF, Park, Y, Lamers, Y, Bandyopadhyay, N, Chi, Y, Lee, K, Kim, K, da Silva, V, Hove, N, Ranka, S, Kahveci, T, Muller, K, Stevens, R, Newgard, C, Stacpoole, P, Jones, D. Metabolomic Analysis Reveals Extended Metabolic Consequences of Marginal Vitamin B-6 Deficiency in Healthy Human Subjects. Public Library of Science ONE, 2013; 8 (16)
  • Zhao M, Ralat M, da Silva V, Garrett T, Melnyk S, James S, Gregory JF. Vitamin B-6 restriction impairs fatty acid synthesis in cultured human hepatoma (HepG2) cells. American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 2013; 304(4):E342-51
  • Benight N, Stoll B, Chacko S, da Silva V, Marini J, Gregory JF, Stabler S, Burrin D. B-vitamin deficiency is protective against DSS-induced colitis in mice. American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 2011; 301(2):G249-G259
  • Waller JC, Alvarez S, Naponelli V, Lara-Nunez A, Blaby IK, da Silva V, Ziemak MJ, Vickers TJ, Beverley SM, et al. A role for tetrahydrofolates in the metabolism of iron-sulfur clusters in all domains of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2010 Jun 8;107:10412-7

Peer-Reviewed Cooperative Extension Publications

  • Zilliox P and da Silva V. Folate & Folic Acid – Healthy Moms Mean Healthy Babies.(2017) Arizona Cooperative Extension Publication AZ1733.  
  • Wyatt M and da Silva V. Eating for Two – Healthy Pregnancy Starts with a Healthy Diet. 2017 (accepted)

Book Chapters

  • Bailey, LB, da Silva, V, West, A, Caudill, M. Folate. In: Zempleni, J, Suttie, JW, Gregory JF, and Stover, PJ, eds. Handbook of Vitamins, Taylor and Francis, 5th edition (2013)
  • da Silva, V, Russell, K, Gregory JF. Vitamin B6. In: Erdman, J, Macdonald, I, Zeisel, S, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. ILSI Press, 10th edition
  • da Silva, V, Mackey, A, Davis S, Gregory JF. Vitamin B6. In: Ross, AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 11th edition (2012)
  • Gregory, JF, da Silva, V., Lamers, Y. Kinetics of Folate and One-Carbon Metabolism. In: Bailey LB, ed. Folate in health and disease. CDC Press, 2nd edition 2009.