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