Apart from vitamins and minerals, we need many more essential substances and nutrients to make our body function well since the body has to fend not only for itself, but for another human as well.
Let’s take a closer look at the nutrient choline and its importance during pregnancy. Choline and pregnancy are inseparable for good health.
What Is Choline?
Choline is a water soluble nutrient which is usually grouped along with the B-complex vitamins, and must be consumed in adequate amounts for the body to stay healthy. It has been found that choline is actually a precursor for a neurotransmitter (which helps transmit signals to the brain) acetylcholine, which helps play a role in muscle control and memory. (1)
[ Read: Eating Egg During Pregnancy ]
Health Benefits Of Choline:
Choline is thought to be helpful in protecting against several health conditions including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Tourette’s disease
- Huntington’s chorea
- Memory loss
- Chronic hepatitis
- Liver diseases
- High blood cholesterol
[ Read: Milk For Pregnant Women ]
Many athletes use it for bodybuilding, to delay fatigue and improve their performance in sports. (2)
It has also been found that choline could help serve many bodily functions such as protecting the accumulation of fat in the liver, maintaining the structure of cell membranes and helping the development of the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
In fact, it is also believed that apart from protecting the liver from damage, it can also help reverse the damage that has already occurred. Additionally, it could also help reduce the levels of cholesterol and homocysteine, which are associated with cardiovascular disease risk, and to add to that, it could possibly help guard against certain cancers as well. (3)
[ Read: Vitamin B12 During Pregnancy ]
Importance Of Choline During Pregnancy:
Apart from offering a range of health benefits associated with its intake, choline is also known to play a vital role in pregnancy.
- Researchers from the Cornell University have found that the adequate consumption of choline by women in their third trimester of pregnancy could be linked to 33% reduced concentration of cortisol – a stress hormone, in babies. This could further decrease the risk of stress related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension in the baby as well. (4)
- Choline is also known to play a critical role in fetal development- it could influence the proliferation of stem cells and apoptosis, and alters brain and spinal cord structure and function, and thereby influences the risk of neural tube defects and memory function as well. (5)
- Research has shown that women who follow a diet low in choline could have 4 times a greater risk of having babies with neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
- Intake of Choline during pregnancy could also help prevent neural tube defects. (6)
- A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado has revealed that the consumption of foods rich in choline, particularly during the last two trimesters of pregnancy and in early infancy, could be linked to a lower rate of schizophrenia in infants. (7)
[ Read: Benefits Of Vitamin C During Pregnancy ]
Best Food Sources Of Choline:
Pregnant women are advised to consume at least 450 mg of choline per day. (8) While you could always choose to take choline supplements after consulting your doctor, it is best to stick to natural food sources of this important nutrient.
Some of the best food sources of choline include:
- Atlantic cod
- Beef liver
- Wheat germ
- Beef cut
- Brussels sprouts
- Peanut butter
- Milk chocolate
- Skimmed milk (9)
Make sure you take your doctor’s opinion before you start to include more of these foods into your diet. Opting for these natural foods is the best option during pregnancy, since supplements tend to result in health hazards.
We hope this article helped you understand the importance of choline in pregnancy. Got any views to share? Let us know in the comments box below.
- Is It Harmful To Eat Eggs During Pregnancy?
- Is It Safe To Consume Zoloft (Antidepressants) During Pregnancy?
- Is It Safe To Take/Consume Antibiotics During Pregnancy?
- FSH During Pregnancy – Everything You Need To Know