Choline is as important as folic acid for preventing neural tube defects. But choline also plays a significant role in the brain and nervous system development of little Your Child.
What is choline?
Choline is a water-soluble nutrient in the B vitamin family. It is specifically vital for proper brain development and function and plays an important role in memory. Your body can make a small amount of choline, but it is not enough.
Why is choline important during pregnancy?
Choline plays an important role in fetal brain development, affecting the areas of the brain responsible for memory. Researches show that when a fetus obtains more choline, it has a better chance of having good brain function later in life and a lower risk of brain abnormalities. Moreover, pregnant women with a low blood level of choline are at a higher risk of having children with neural tube defects.
How much choline do you need?
During pregnancy, you need a lot of choline as your choline reserves get used up by Your Child for brain development. Therefore, the adequate intake of choline for pregnant women is about 450 mg per day.
What are food sources of choline?
Choline can be found naturally in foods such as eggs, salmon, and cauliflower. In fact, eggs are sometimes called “brain foods” because they are known for supplying high amounts of choline (a large egg can have up to 150 mg).
Should I take a supplement?
You may be able to get enough choline through your meals, but some women don’t get enough choline from diet alone. If you are not sure, ask your doctor if you need a supplement or a prenatal vitamin that includes choline.
Choline and breastfeeding
Choline can be found in breast milk. Researchers found that consumption of mothers’ milk instead of formula, was significantly related to an increase in IQ later in life. You can help the still-developing brain of Your Child by eating a varied diet rich in choline because the more choline is in your diet, the more choline your child will get through breastfeeding.
Additional benefits of choline
Choline can also protect babies from stress in the utero. If you’re under a lot of stress or suffering from anxiety or depression, your unborn child has an increased risk of stress-related and metabolic disorders. Consumption of choline during pregnancy may protect Your Child later in life from mental health conditions, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. The consumption of 930 mg of choline in the third trimester of pregnancy is linked to a 33% lower concentration of the stress hormone cortisol, compared to those who consumed 430 mg a day.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat (OB-GYN) (6 February 2019)