Choline Is Just As Important As Folate In PregnancySep 29, 2020
Have you heard of Choline? Do you know how incredibly important it is during pregnancy?
I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't.... most Doctors and Nutritionist don't even know about the importance of this B vitamin!
Why choline is critical during pregnancy
Firstly, choline has been shown to be just as important as folate when it comes to preventing neural tube defects (NTD's)
And there is a lot of evidence to show that high choline intake during pregnancy and early in the postnantal period has big benefits for babies brain health.
It boosts cognition, is neuroprotective and is directly related to brain and memory development in your baby.
Choline is also needed for a healthy placenta, supporting optimum transport of nutrients across the placenta and may even reduce the risk of preeclampsia.
Further to all of that, choline is needed for cell-membrane signalling, lipid transport, heart function and methyl-group metabolism (think DNA and protein synthesis).
Choline is a pretty big deal!
Your choline needs increase significantly during pregnancy & breastfeeding.
Current recommendations during pregnancy are 450mg per day. I think this should be your minimum as some studies show that almost double this intake has further improved outcomes for baby and Mum.
Which foods are highest in Choline?
Lots of foods have some choline in them but it's most concentrated in animal products. Particularly liver and egg yolks.
Depending on where you source your egg from, one yolk usually contains around 115mg of choline and 30gm of beef liver contains around 120mg.
Unfortunately, you'd need almost 4 cups of broccoli or over 3 cups of tofu to get the same amount of choline as you'll get from just one egg yolk!
1/2 cup cooked pinto beans or brussel sprouts has about 30mg and 1/2 quinoa or 2Tbs of peanut butter will give you about 20mg.
Foods highest in choline include organ meats, fish roe, wild venison, wild salmon, pork skin, beef, lamb, pork (including bacon) and dairy products.
Supplementing with choline
If you're not able to (or choose not to) eat eggs and other animal products, I very strongly recommend that you use a choline supplement. Choline bitartrate is the most well-studied form.
If your supplemental choline comes from lecithin, choose GMO free.
"Because choline is found predominantly in animal-derived foods, vegetarians and vegans may have a greater risk for inadequacy" It's also important to know that although we can biosynthesize (make our own) choline in small amounts, it's not enough to prevent signs of deficiency.
Choline and MTHFR
If, like me you have an MTHFR gene mutation, your choline requirements will be even higher than the recommended 450mg/day.
This means that vegetarian or vegan pregnancies with an MTHFR gene mutation are especially risky. Please work with a health professional to ensure you're nutritional needs are being met.
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