Eating More Foods With Choline During Pregnancy Could Boost Baby’s Brain

Source: Cornell University

Summary: A new study suggests when expectant mothers consume sufficient amounts of the nutrient choline during pregnancy, their offspring gain enduring cognitive benefits.

Choline is a water-soluble vitamin-like essential macronutrient. It is generally found in egg yolks, lean red meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and cruciferous vegetables. Most women consume less than the recommended daily intake 450 milligrams per day. Two previous studies had mixed results after examining cognitive effects of maternal choline supplementation, perhaps due to study designs that were not tightly controlled. But researchers from the Cornell University used a rigorous study design to show cognitive benefits in the offspring of pregnant women who daily consumed close to twice the currently recommended amount of choline during their last trimester. The study findings were published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Choline rich foods during pregnancy Could Boost Baby's Brain

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In this study, 26 women were randomly divided into 2 groups and all the women consumed exactly the same diet. Intake of choline and other nutrients were tightly controlled. half the women received 480 mg/day of choline, slightly more than the adequate intake level, and the other half received 930 mg/day. While offspring in both groups showed cognitive benefits, information processing speeds were significantly faster for the group of expectant mothers who consumed 930 mg/day when compared with the group that took 480 mg/day over the same period. Though the study has a small sample, it suggests that current recommendations for daily choline intake may not be enough to produce optimal cognitive abilities in offspring.

Prof. Marie Caudill said, “In animal models using rodents, there’s widespread agreement that supplementing the maternal diet with additional amounts of this single nutrient has lifelong benefits on offspring cognitive function”, “Our study provides some evidence that a similar result is found in humans.”

More Information: Marie A. Caudill et al, “Maternal choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy improves infant information processing speed: a randomized, double-blind, controlled feeding study”, The FASEB Journal (2017). DOI: 10.1096/fj.201700692RR

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