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Choline and Brain Development

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Essential nutrient is important for prenatal brain development

Choline plays an important role in many bodily functions including metabolism, memory, mood and muscle control.  Research published in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology focused on this essential nutrient as it relates to prenatal brain development.

Researchers worked with 26 women who self-reported to be in their third trimester of pregnancy. In part one of this study, all women were provided the same lab prepared meals to ensure they received a baseline of 380mg of choline daily and were supplemented with either 100mg or 550mg to bring total intake to 480 or 930mg/day until delivery. The second part of the study tested cognitive benefits by measuring infant information processing speed which has been shown to have a correlation with IQ.  Infants whose mothers consumed 930mg of choline daily had significantly faster processing speeds. 

Despite being found in a variety of common foods like eggs, beef, chicken and in smaller quantities in a variety of produce like broccoli, kiwi and carrots, 90-95% of pregnant women do not reach the recommended intake level each day. It’s unclear whether it’s due to the concerns around cholesterol, general food aversions associated with pregnancy, or fear of eating undercooked eggs or beef. Adequate intake of choline for pregnant women is 450mg/day and here’s a sample menu for a day that meets that recommendation:

Breakfast:  

Hard boiled egg with 2 slices whole grain toast - 161 mg
2 tsp. strawberry jam - 0 mg2
Clementines - 0 mg

Lunch:  

Grilled Cod with Lemon Chimichurri with brown rice - 120 mg

Snack:  

Low-fat vanilla yogurt with 1 cup strawberries - 35 mg
Graham crackers - 0 mg

Dinner:  

Baked Banana Chutney Chicken - 149 mg
Baked Potato - 26 mg

Dessert:  Banana Hazelnut Dessert Wontons - 24 mg

Total: 515 mg

Published May 1, 2018

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