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Importance Of Choline During Pregnancy

Choline during pregnancy
Written by: Co-Founder Maria Davi
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Palmer, DO
Updated June 2022

In this article:

★ WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHOLINE?

★ IS IT SAFE TO TAKE CHOLINE WHILE PREGNANT?

★ HOW MUCH CHOLINE DURING PREGNANCY IS NEEDED?

★ WHY CHOLINE IS AS IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY?

★ CHOLINE DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS IN PREGNANCY

★ BEST FOODS HIGH IN CHOLINE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN

★ BEST PRENATAL VITAMIN WITH CHOLINE

Vitamins, nutrients, and minerals are essential for your body to develop a healthy baby. It is important to eat a well-balanced diet and take a daily prenatal vitamin throughout your pregnancy, as advised by your OBGYN. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your developing baby.

One nutrient that is commonly overlooked while pregnant is Choline. Not only do you benefit from choline during pregnancy, your baby also does. Choline is not a vitamin or a mineral, it is considered a micronutrient [9]. Choline sources are found in many foods and dietary supplements.

Choline is an important brain-building nutrient needed during pregnancy. It is crucial to consume enough choline because it helps your baby’s brain and spinal cord to develop properly. Some studies suggest 450 mg. of choline per day may protect your baby against neural tube defects.

Continue reading to learn: what choline is good for, if choline is safe during pregnancy, how much choline is in eggs (and other choline food sources), what does choline do, and more about choline benefits.

★ WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHOLINE?

Choline is an essential nutrient both you and your developing baby need during pregnancy. This brain-building nutrient helps your baby’s spinal cord and brain properly develop and helps form neurotransmitters [1]. Consumption of choline in your third-trimester influences lifelong memory for your growing baby [2]. Like folate, choline helps protect your developing baby against neural tube defects and cleft lip and palate.

Choline influences DNA synthesis and helps your body produce fats that make up cellular membranes. It is known to help your brain, nervous system, and memory function. It can also regulate your mood and cognition functions, perfect for postpartum blues! [3]

★ IS IT SAFE TO TAKE CHOLINE WHILE PREGNANT?

Choline intake is 100% safe during pregnancy. It contains both fat-soluble and water-soluble compounds that your body absorbs differently based on its form. Fat-soluble choline most commonly comes from food sources and is readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Water-soluble choline is readily absorbed in the liver, then converts into a type of fat called lecithin [3].

Although choline is found in many foods, it is absent from most prenatal vitamins currently on the market. The AMA (American Medical Association) recently voiced its support for adding choline to prenatal supplements [8].

Before taking choline supplements, we advise consulting with your OB.

★ HOW MUCH CHOLINE DURING PREGNANCY IS NEEDED?

The recommended amount of choline for each trimester of pregnancy is 450 mg and 550 mg if you’re breastfeeding. Your liver functions produce small amounts of choline, but not enough to meet your needs and the needs of your developing baby [3]. The majority of your intake of choline is consumed through your diet and with the help of a prenatal vitamin.

Our Feed Mom & Me Complete Prenatal Vitamins contain 120 mg of choline and much more! Click here for more information.

Because choline can be stored, excessive consumption can build up to toxic levels. Before taking choline supplements during pregnancy, we advise consulting with your OB.

★ CHOLINE DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS IN PREGNANCY

People in the United States generally don't consume enough choline in their diets, but actual deficiency is rare [4]. Possibly later in life, a choline deficiency can occur with symptoms and risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and muscle damage.

Low choline intake may raise your risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight, premature birth, and other pregnancy complications [10].

★ WHY CHOLINE IS AS IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY?

For many years, doctors focused mainly on folate to support fetal neural tube formation development. Recent observational studies suggest choline is equally vital in neurodevelopment and many other crucial functions [4]. They’re not exactly the same but have similar key functions and traits.

Like folate, choline is a crucial ingredient for developing the embryonic brain, spine, spinal cord, and nervous system. The fetus needs choline to help form new cells in the baby's brain development and nervous system. [5]. This leads to a belief that both folate and choline deficiencies during this process may lead to congenital abnormalities like neural tube defects. [6].

Choline for child development

Taking choline during pregnancy also supports brain functions like learning and memory in child development [11].  Recently, 7-year-old offspring of mothers who were part of a maternal choline supplement study were reassessed. Children in the 930 mg group showed better attention and performance than the children who were in the 480 mg group. [12]

An adequate nutritional prenatal regimen is required to ensure your newborn’s cognitive ability and physical development.

Choline for placenta growth

During the first trimester of pregnancy, the placenta develops to provide nutrients and protect the fetus. The cell structure of this organ is formed by choline. Choline helps support the placenta is doing its job, promotes the formation of blood vessels in the placenta, and smoothes the way for oxygen and nutrient transport to the fetus. [1]

Choline and autism prevention 

Research continues to discover the link between choline intake and autism prevention. During pregnancy, consuming adequate levels of choline can help with apparent autism spectrum disorders. It promotes healthy brain development and can reduce social deficits and anxiety.

Choline intake also helps form the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and emotional regulation. The hippocampus is abnormal or underdeveloped in children with autism. [13]

Choline rich Foods

★ BEST FOODS HIGH IN CHOLINE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN:

  • Dairy Products, such as Eggs. (Yellow yolks of a large egg contain about 147 mg of choline)
  • Lean Beef, and Poultry.
  • Fish, such as Salmon. (No more than 12 ounces per week)
  • Potatoes
  • Vegetables, such as Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, and Cauliflower.
  • Some Grains, such as Quinoa.
  • Some Nuts, such as Peanuts. [9]
best prenatal vitamin with choline

★ BEST PRENATAL VITAMIN WITH CHOLINE

One of the best over-the-counter prenatal vitamins during pregnancy is Feed Mom & Me Complete Prenatal with DHA. It contains 120 mg of Choline, Bitartrate.

This prenatal supplement is formulated by an OBGYN & Registered Dietitian, containing all the nutrients needed to conceive and during pregnancy. Each small and easy-to-swallow pill is packed with 22 vital natural nutrients to provide nutritional support for you and your growing baby. It contains Folate, DHA (omega-3 fatty acid), Iron, Calcium, Choline, Zinc and much more.

The vegetarian formula is free of artificial colors or flavors, chemicals, preservatives, non-GMO, dairy-free, soy-free, or gluten-free. Each capsules contains B6, Organic Ginger, and Peppermint Powder, which can help alleviate morning sickness and nausea.

Adding to that, it is a women-owned company. Who better than a female would understand pregnancy!

Check out Feed Mom & Me Complete Prenatal with Choline!