Are you getting enough choline?

Folic acid… calcium… protein… These are the nutrients most women think about when they are pregnant. But very few pregnant women are aware of their critical choline needs during pregnancy, let alone ever heard of choline. In fact, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 94% of women do not meet the daily recommended intake of choline.

What is choline? Choline is a B-vitamin essential for brain development. The recommended intake for choline is higher during pregnancy and breastfeeding compared to rest of the population. Recent data suggests that choline needs are as high as 930 mg per day (current recommendations are 450 mg of choline per day for pregnancy and 550 mg if you breastfeed). Optimal prenatal intake is linked to higher cognitive function in infants, better placental function, and lesser chances of preeclampsia. Sufficient preconceptual intake of choline is linked to reduced incidence of neural tube defects in infants.

Because most women do not meet these recommendations, the American Medical Association supports an increase in choline in all prenatal vitamins to 450 mg. If you haven’t already, check to make sure your prenatal vitamin has sufficient choline per daily dose. If it does not, consider switching to one that does, adding choline as a separate supplement, or boosting your intake of choline through your diet.

Dietary sources of choline include liver, egg yolks, salmon, soy beans, broccoli, and wheat germ. Although liver has the highest amount of choline, if you are not a fan, egg yolks are another good option. Egg yolks have 115 mg of choline per serving. When buying eggs, choose free-range organic eggs. Yolks of free-range eggs are darker orange and are higher in nutrients.

Sick of eating eggs for breakfast? Serve them over a salad or pasta for lunch or dinner like in the picture below!

Spinach salad with roasted sweet potatoes, avocados, and fried eggs.

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