Balchem Corporation, maker of the VitaCholine® branded choline product line, commends the American Medical Association (AMA) for taking action to ensure that pregnant women get adequate levels of choline, an essential nutrient needed to support neural development of the fetus and reduce the incidence of birth defects.
A resolution passed by delegates at the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting supports evidence-based amounts of choline in all prenatal vitamins to make sure pregnant women maintain adequate choline levels. In 1998, the Institute of Medicine established a Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of 450mg for pregnant women and 550mg for adults in general. A recent study showed that only eight of the top 25 prenatal vitamins contain choline and none provide more than 55mg per daily dose, which is just 12% of the DRI for pregnant women. Additionally, data from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicates that women aged 20 and above consume just 278mg of choline on average from both food and supplements, far below the recommended levels.
Choline is known to help the brain and spinal cord of babies to develop properly, and inadequate levels of it in the mother’s body can negatively impact a child’s cognitive development. Choline is a key component in various molecules that strengthen cell membranes, form neurotransmitters, and help nerve cells communicate with one another.
“We extremely pleased to see the AMA take this step to increase the amount of choline pregnant women will get in their prenatal supplements because there is so much evidence to support the benefits of adequate levels, and the risks of choline deficiency,” said Tom Druke, Director of VitaCholine Brand Development, Balchem Human Nutrition and Pharma. “We believe this will help raise awareness among consumers about choline in general, because until recently it was assumed people’s food intake provided enough of this essential nutrient. We now know it does not, which is likely why in July 2016 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of 550mg, providing for labeling of choline content and the associated % Daily Value (DV) on both Supplement and Nutrition Facts panels.”
Of several structure-function claims reviewed by FDA for choline, three specifically relate to its role in prenatal nutrition:
- Prenatal use of choline may lead to lifelong improvement of visuospatial memory in children born of the pregnancy.
- Supplementation with choline during infancy and childhood may lead to improved lifelong memory.
- Choline may help memory problems associated with aging.
 Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline 1998. doi: 10.17226/6015
Prenatal Vitamins Deficient in Recommended Choline Intake for Pregnant Women, Bell and Aujla. J Fam Med Dis Prev 2016