The essential nutrient choline is gaining attention of late and for good reason. Not only are most Americans not getting enough of it, but one subgroup in particular need of it—pregnant women—isn’t either (Nutrients. 2017 Aug 5;9(8). pii: E839).
Choline is known to be essential to infant health, but what is less known is the positive effect it can have on mothers both during and after pregnancy, as well as on developing fetuses.
Choline is probably most known for its positive effects on cognition (FASEB J. 2018; 32(4): 2172-2180), but studies have shown it creates positive effects on fat metabolism (FASEB J. 1991; 5(7): 2093-8) and the prevention of certain pregnancy-related conditions, such as pre-eclampsia (FASEB J. 2013;27(3):1245-53). Research has shown choline depletion to have adverse effects on liver and muscle function, and that reintroduction to choline can reverse that dysfunction.
During pregnancy, choline is delivered in mass to the growing fetus, which can result in depleted levels for the expectant mothers, which in turn increases the likelihood of certain disorders. Thus, supplemental choline during pregnancy is recommended.
Additionally, choline is being studied on its long-term effects on children, with one ongoing study following groups of control and higher-dose choline children through the age of 7. That study has shown early findings supporting higher-dose choline ingestion.
In terms of both preventive care and supplemental nutrition, choline is showing great importance to expectant mothers and their children, thus more than earning the extra attention it is being given.
Learn more about how choline and other nutrients benefit pregnancy and postpartum in INSIDER’s Maternal Nutrition Digital Magazine.
Tom Druke is director of VitaCholine brand development at Balchem Human Nutrition and Pharma.