Choline is a very important nutrient that you need both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Related to the B vitamins Folate and B12, Choline plays many important roles in the body.
During pregnancy and while breastfeeding you want to make sure that you are getting in all the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals to ensure that your baby grows and develops properly. It is also important for your health while pregnant and breastfeeding that you get in the right nutrients, very often if you have a deficiency in something your baby will draw that nutrient from your body to give to your baby.
For your health and that of your baby proper diet is essential and you will need to take pregnancy supplements to make up for any shortfalls. Your doctor can recommend any prenatal vitamins that you may need to take.
How Much Choline Do You Need?
During pregnancy your need for Choline is higher than normal and during breastfeeding you will need even more. If your body is not receiving enough Choline during pregnancy for your baby, then your baby will draw it from your body.
Pregnant women need 450mg Choline per day.
Breastfeeding women need 550mg Choline per day.
Non-pregnant women need 425mg Choline per day.
Benefits Of Choline During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- Choline is needed for the synthesis of a key neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, as well as lecithin which assists in maintaining cell membranes, transmitting nerve impulses, processing fat and cholesterol and performing other important tasks.
- Choline is vital for your baby’s brain development. Getting sufficient Choline during pregnancy is linked to better brain functioning.
- Research shows that Choline may help to prevent neural tube defects.
- There is evidence to suggest that infants that get in lots of Choline are more likely to retain mental abilities as they age. Human milk supplies Choline to infants and baby formula is Choline fortified.
Natural Sources Of Choline
There are many natural sources for Choline that you can include in your pregnancy diet. Good sources of Choline include eggs, meat, fish and some wholegrain cereals.
In particular these foods are excellent sources of Choline:
- Peanut Butter
- Brussel Srouts
- Beef Liver
- Baked Beans
Choline Deficiency During Pregnancy
Large amounts of Choline is needed during pregnancy to support fetal development, in particular during the third trimester. The result of a Choline deficiency during pregnancy can be elevated homocysteine levels, which could result in birth defects as well as miscarriage.
While you may be able to get in all your Choline needs naturally through eating the right foods, you may find that you are not getting in enough Choline. This is especially true if you are vegetarian or vegan since the majority of the natural sources listed for Choline include eggs, meat and seafood.
If you want to have a vegan pregnancy you will need to discuss your needs with the medical doctor overseeing your pregnancy and research what vegan pregnancy supplements are available for Choline, DHA (Omega 3 usually found in fish oils) and other vital nutrients that you will need.