The Who, What, and Why of Choline
Erin Stokes, ND | March 2022
Your nutritional health during conception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding sets the foundation for your child’s health and well-being long past their birth. There can be a lot to think about and prioritize during this time, with folate/folic acid typically at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to nutritional support for pregnancy. One of the other key nutrients we need during this time, however, is choline.
Choline is a lesser-know, hugely important nutrient (and a member of the B-vitamin family) that hasn’t gotten its fair share of the limelight - both in our awareness of it, and in our diets. Despite being first identified in the 1860s and studied extensively since then for its role in a variety of processes in the body, it wasn’t until the past year that choline was recognized as an official vitamin, with a recommended Daily Value of 450 mg per day for pregnant adults. That’s a tall order, as choline is an essential nutrient, meaning it needs to be obtained through diet and can’t be synthesized by the body, and it can be a challenge to obtain in foods. It’s no wonder, then, that up to 90% of Americans fail to meet adequate dietary intake for choline. But first - why is choline so important?
The Who, What, and Why of Choline
As we mentioned, choline is a member of the B-vitamin family (though perhaps not the immediate family- it's more like a cousin!) and plays many key roles in our health. Once we ingest choline, it gets to work throughout the body and supports us on the molecular level by informing:
- Neurotransmitter production
- Structural integrity of our cells
- Gene expression
- …and more!
When it comes to pregnancy, however, it also has a huge role to play. In fact, it becomes especially critical during this time - helping support healthy cognitive development in baby*.
The optimal source
The natural next question might be - how can I get more of this vital nutrient in my diet? Turns out, it’s tricky. Ideally, women should get 425 mg, while pregnant women require 450 mg, and breastfeeding women need 550 mg per day.1 The highest sources of dietary choline are in organ meats, which are not traditional fare on most American’s tables, though one serving of beef liver provides 400mg. The next best source? The humble egg.
Eggs have been on a roller coaster ride over the last several decades when it comes to public approval. They have gone from healthy breakfast option to public enemy number one and back again. But just two hard-boiled eggs provides 250 to 300mg of choline! The key? The yolk! If you’re eating an egg-white omelet for breakfast, then you’re missing the vital nourishment the yolk has to offer, including choline.
If neither of these sounds like great options for you, supplementing with choline is always something to consider (especially during pregnancy and lactation). Keep it simple by looking for a multivitamin, such as any of our Prenatal options, that contain this important - but often overlooked - nutrient, and get to minding the choline gap! Looking to top off the choline-tank even more? Our Baby & Me 2 Prenatal DHA & Choline is another option!
Interested in learning more about how our products are made? Read about our promise and process, and obsession with quality.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.