Do You Need Choline During Pregnancy?

Choline During Pregnancy

If you’ve ever been pregnant (or trying to get pregnant), then you’ve probably heard about the importance of choline during pregnancy.

Choline is a nutrient found in many foods that plays an important role in helping your brain and nervous system regulate memory, mood, muscle control, and other functions. It also helps  your body form cell membranes. While your body can make some choline on its own, most of the choline found in your body comes from foods.

While choline is essential for overall health, it's particularly important for women to get enough choline during pregnancy. According to the National Institutes of Health, pregnant women should get 450mg and breastfeeding women should get 550mg per day. (Check out this blog to learn more about the best postpartum supplements for women.)

Do You Need to Supplement with Choline?

You may have heard that you need to supplement with choline during pregnancy. The reasoning? During pregnancy and breastfeeding, mothers deliver a large amount of choline to the fetus, so it’s crucial that the mother has enough choline to provide the baby.

Research shows that it’s important for the infant to get enough choline for optimal outcomes of brain development and prevent birth defects, and it’s also necessary for the mother in terms of liver and placental function.

However, while choline is certainly important during (and after) pregnancy, at Binto we believe that you don’t necessarily need to supplement with it. “In most cases, women obtain adequate amounts of choline through normal diet, so it’s not something that typically needs supplementation,” explains our medical advisor, Dr. Nate DeNicola, an OBGYN at Penn Med.

The good news: You're probably already eating plenty of foods that contain choline if you follow a balanced diet. You can obtain the recommended amounts by eating common foods such as:

  • Meat, eggs, poultry, fish, and dairy products
  • Potatoes and cruciferous vegetables such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains

A Caveat

The one situation where DeNicola suggests a need for choline supplementation is if the mother has consumed alcohol during pregnancy. “The only study I’ve seen suggesting need for supplementation is during alcohol exposure,” he notes.

Also, women who do not eat foods containing milk, meat, eggs, or other choline-rich foods, might want to consider a choline supplement. Talk to your doctor if you suspect that you may not be getting enough choline in your diet.

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