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Smarter Children with Choline

Smarter Children with Choline

Double choline results in improved attention and problem solving

It’s estimated that 60% of women experience food aversions during pregnancy.  Often surfacing around four weeks gestation, commonly shunned foods include meat, dairy, eggs, along with other spicy or strongly flavored dishes.  In most cases, it’s not an issue to omit these foods from the diet – but new research suggests that if you’re avoiding animal products, you may be limiting a nutrient that is critical for baby’s brain development. 

The randomized controlled trial, published in The FASEB Journal, compared school-aged children of women who either consumed the recommended adequate choline intake (AI) of 480 mg/day or double that recommendation of 930 mg/day during pregnancy.  When children turned seven, they completed computerized testing, where essentially, they had to quickly signal that they saw, or did not see, a grey square on the screen multiple times over 12 minutes.  They found that children of mothers who consumed double the AI of choline performed better on this test while children of women who received the current recommendation for choline during pregnancy experienced lack of concentration and were unable to accurately complete testing. 

While larger, more widescale testing needs to be done, this research suggests that current choline recommendations need to be reviewed.  Children whose mothers consumed double the current recommendation for choline experienced major benefits including sustained attention, improved memory and problem solving for children into the school-aged years and potentially beyond. 

Need a choline refresh?  It’s a nutrient that your body needs to help regulate muscle control, mood and memory plus it’s needed to form membranes around each cell in the body.  Some of the richest sources of choline include beef liver, ground beef, eggs, chicken, and fish which provide between 13-65% of the daily recommended value.  Plant sources include soybeans followed by potatoes, quinoa, Brussels sprouts, brown rice, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.  Except for soybeans, plant sources can add up, but do not offer more than 10% of the daily recommended amount. 

If animal proteins like chicken or beef are off-putting, eggs may be a more approachable source of choline, especially for Lacto Ovo vegetarians.  Dairy milk or other fortified milk alternatives can also be a significant source of choline if they are consumed throughout the day.  Please check labels as amounts will vary. 

For a dish that has several choline containing foods try our Peanut Tofu with Broccoli and Tomatoes.  And if you need something a little more craveable, our Grilled Chicken Kabobs may be more up your alley. 

Published April 1, 2022

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