Choline: Are you deficient?
You might be thinking, "What is choline and why are they dedicating an entire blog post to this obscure nutrient?"
For a long time, no one really talked about choline. However, as more and more research is published regarding its importance during pregnancy, the more glaring it becomes that we need to make this nutrient part of the prenatal conversation.
Let's talk about why you need it and how to make sure you are getting enough.
Why you need choline
- Much like folate (which we hear about all the time), choline is important for infant brain development.
- Research correlates higher maternal choline status in the first half of pregnancy with improved cognitive development in infants.
- Choline is found to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects.*
*Remember, baby's neural tube forms in the first few weeks of pregnancy, so optimizing your choline status before conceiving is super important. We can help you with this in our online Prepare for Pregnancy Program!
How to get enough
- Eat your egg yolks. Liver is actually the highest food source of choline, but we recognize that the typical person does not consume liver in their average diet. Egg yolks are the second best source, with 1 egg providing 25% of your daily choline needs. Try our Broccoli Cheddar Egg Bake for an easy recipe that allows you to enjoy eggs all week long.
- Forget what you've been told about egg yolks and cardiovascular disease. More recent research tell us that dietary cholesterol does not increase our risk for heart disease. Researchers from Cornell University and University of Connecticut found that in a healthy population, consuming up to 3 eggs per day actually resulted in increased HDL (healthy cholesterol), no change in LDL (less healthy cholesterol), and reduced LDL-to-HDL ratio (improved ratio).
- Look for a prenatal vitamin with choline. Surprisingly, most prenatal vitamins don't contain choline. This is one of the reasons we recommend the Zahler Prenatal + DHA (use code ALAVITAP to get 25% off your order). Keep in mind that even this prenatal only provides 25 mg of choline per day. The daily requirement is 450 mg so still look to incorporate plenty of food sources of choline in your diet. For a full list of choline containing foods, check out the NIH Choline Fact Sheet.
Want to know if you are deficient?
We offer functional micronutrient testing and can provide you with an in-depth look at your personal nutrient needs. If you are interested in working with us to assess your nutritional status, please contact us to schedule an appointment.