Choline in your pregnancy diet

Choline in your pregnancy diet

Why you need choline during pregnancy

Choline is an important nutrient that helps your baby's brain and spinal cord develop properly. Some studies suggest it may also protect a newborn against neural tube defects (much like folic acid does).

How much choline you need

Pregnant women: 450 mg per day

Breastfeeding women: 550 mg per day

Nonpregnant women: 425 mg per day

Your need for choline increases during pregnancy as your baby draws on your supply. You don't have to get the recommended amount of choline every day. Instead, aim for that amount as an average over the course of a few days or a week.

Food sources of choline

Eggs, meat and fish, and some whole grain cereals are good sources of choline. Other examples of good food sources include:

  • 3 ounces beef liver, pan-fried: 356 mg
  • 1 cup toasted wheat germ: 202 mg
  • one large egg: 147 mg
  • 3 ounces beef, cooked: 97 mg
  • 3 ounces scallops, steamed: 94 mg
  • 3 ounces canned pink salmon: 75 mg
  • 3 ounces chicken breast, roasted: 73 mg
  • 3 ounces Atlantic cod, cooked: 71 mg
  • 3 ounces canned shrimp: 69 mg
  • 1 cup brussels sprouts, boiled: 63 mg
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped and boiled: 63 mg
  • 8 ounces skim milk: 38 mg
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter: 20 mg
  • 1.5 ounces milk chocolate: 20 mg
  • 1 ounce peanuts: 15 mg

(Note that 3 ounces of meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards.)

Should you take a supplement?

Maybe. You may be able to get enough choline by eating a varied diet, but some women don't get enough choline from diet alone. You probably wouldn't notice any signs or symptoms of inadequate choline in your diet, but if you worry that you're falling short, ask your healthcare provider if you need a supplement or a prenatal vitamin that includes choline.

The signs of a choline deficiency

A choline deficiency can cause fat to accumulate in the liver and lead to liver disease.

This may show up as elevated ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and reduced VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) levels in the blood. A choline deficiency can also cause elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine.

Watch the video: Choline in pregnancy - Video abstract: 36610 (September 2021).