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We are diving back into the educational posts today, learning about choline. If you have a little one or are pregnant you’ve probably heard about choline and it’s importance for brain development. When I was in school choline was the new guy on the street, we had very limited data on how much people should consume or long-term effects of deficiencies. Bit by bit more literature is coming out though we sadly do not know estimated average requirements, as practitioners we have to settle for adequate intake thresholds.
Choline is a type of B vitamin which serves as a building block for all cells. It is also integral in mood, memory, brain development and metabolism. Choline helps make sure our cells are strong by contributing to the wall structure of each individual cell.
Prenatal intake of choline is very important to brain development. In several studies, prenatal choline intake was associated with improved memory and learning across the lifespan. It’s also important to keep up with good choline intake while nursing and as your little one begins eating (all infant formulas contain choline so if you are using formula instead of breast milk you’re covered).
Maintaining a balanced diet as your little one ages will help them reap the benefits as we need to steadily supply our bodies with choline.
Another interesting feature about choline is it’s role in metabolism, specifically in patients who cannot eat or receive food in their belly – a population I have much experience with. Our bodies are able to synthesize some choline but not enough for normal development or growth (hello pregnancy and childhood). True deficiency levels are very low likely because of our own synthesis of choline but people going through periods of growth likely are not getting enough in their diet.
It’s worth noting that many prenatal/lactation supplements do not have adequate amounts of choline so mommas should focus on consuming a high quality diet with plenty of proteins, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli/cauliflower, cabbages, etc), whole grains and beans.