What is choline?

Choline plays a major role in the structure and function of every single cell in our body. As a building block for our cell walls, choline helps protect our cells, assists healthy absorption of nutrients and excretion of waste as well as maintaining important communication between nerves and muscles.  Basically choline helps keep our cells performing at their best and enabling them to ‘chat’ between themselves!

Why is choline so important during pregnancy?

With such a vital role to play in the health of our cells, choline is particularly important during pregnancy when cells are developing, growing and multiplying rapidly!

Ensuring a healthy intake of choline during pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Supports healthy development of the neural tube
  • Reduces the risk of neural tube defects (alongside folate)
  • Supports brain development
  • Helps improve learning, memory and IQ, with effects persisting throughout the child’s lifetime
  • Reduces infant stress and anxiety levels
  • Supports healthy growth of the placenta, which is the sole source of nutrition for the growing baby

Hailed as the new ‘rockstar pregnancy nutrient’ in the US, choline is a must have nutrient for all women in their reproductive years.

“The importance of choline cannot be overstated as we continue to unravel the role it plays in human health and development.” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal

What if I’m not pregnant yet?

It’s important not to wait until you’re pregnant to begin boosting your intake of choline.  The neural tube, which connects the brain and the spinal cord, develops and closes during the first 4 weeks of pregnancy.  This is often before many women even realize they are pregnant.  So it’s recommended to start boosting the intake of this essential nutrient as soon as you begin planning for pregnancy.

Do I need choline if I’m breastfeeding?

Healthy choline intake should then be continued right through pregnancy and breastfeeding to support the healthy growth and development of your baby. Breastfeeding “it’s the most nutritionally stressful period for a woman,” said Field, a researcher in nutrition and metabolism in the Department of Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science. The mothers “nutritional needs are far greater than during pregnancy because she has to produce milk, an important source of choline, for this growing infant.”

How much do I need?

The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for choline is:

  • 425mg for women 19 – 70 + years
  • 440mg during pregnancy 18 – 50 years
  • 550mg during breastfeeding 18 – 50 years

Why should I boost my intake?

Research confirms that around 90% of us are not getting our recommended intake of choline.

Where can I get choline?

Dietary sources

Lecithin granules, eggs, beef, salmon, chicken, baked beans, kidney beans, lentils, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, wheatgerm, oats and milk.

Supplementary sources

Lecithin capsules

Good pregnancy multivitamins

So although you may not have heard of this “rock star” nutrient, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive it’s important to make sure you’re getting a healthy choline intake to support the short and long term health of your precious baby.

Tasha Jennings ND
Bch H Sci Nat Med
Adv Dip Naturopathy
Dip Nutrition
Dip Herb Med
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  • I have never heard of this Choline before. I don’t plan any more pregnancies, so I won’t need it. My daughter in law is currently pregnant and I hope my daughter will one day have babies, I wonder what the new dad will be then


  • lol my dyslexia kicked in, i thought it said chlorine… pheww!


  • i am not pregnant but i had never even heard of this before. wow it sounds amazing though


  • Hadn’t heard of this, and am no longer pregnant, but I seem to eat a lot of foods that contain it anyway, phew!


  • Very interesting have to check if my pregnancy vitamins contain this


  • I’ve never heard of this before.


  • I have never heard of Choline before, thanks for sharing, something to share around with a few.


  • thanks tasha, will make sure I look into this,


  • Interesting how they keep finding new beneficial things that we need!


  • Another new discovery about our bodies


  • Very informative read. Love it. I am a beast feeding mum and found this very useful. Thanks


  • New things been discovered about our bodies all the time


  • I had never heard of this before, thanks for the new information


  • I’ve never heard of choline before.


  • I have two kids and have never heard of choline! Lucky I’ve always been big on milk and legumes


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