Choline, an essential brain building nutrient, has been found to promote optimum physical and cognitive development during gestation and in infancy.
Choline is a phospholipid that can be found in the brain, particularly in the myelin sheaths that transport nerve impulses from cell bodies of nerve cells. It is important for brain development because it helps form brain and nervous tissues. It is a “smart” fat that serves as precursor to acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning.
The fetus’s developing brain extracts sizeable amounts of choline from the mother. A study conducted by Cornell University in New York shows that babies whose mothers did not have enough choline in their diet while pregnant had significantly lower memory capacity compared to those whose mothers had a choline-rich diet. Mammalian studies have proven that exposure to adequate amounts of choline while still in the womb and/or after delivery has a permanent influence in learning and memory upon the offspring’s adulthood.
The US Institute of Medicine (IOM) Adequate Intake for choline recommendation is 450mg per day to help restore maternal reserves. Pregnant and lactating mothers can get choline from egg yolks (the richest source), beef, fish, peanuts, iceberg lettuce, as well as fortified nutritional milk drink for pregnant and lactating mothers.
SOURCES: • Zita West. Babycare Before Birth. Dorling Kindersley Limited. London. 2006 • Priscilla Samuel, Ph.D. & Guy Johnson, Ph.D., Choline and Cognitive Development during Gestation and Early Life. 2005. • Choline – benefits in pregnancy and through lifespan. 2010. ihealthbulletin.com • Choline: Food for thought. 2007. lowcarbdiets.about.com • More Choline for Pregnant, Nursing Women Could Reduce Down Syndrome Dysfunction, Guard Against Dementia. 2010. sciencedaily.com