Choline Important for Moms-to-Be

choline level pregnantWhen I first saw this article, my eyes read chlorine instead of choline and I thought WHAT? Then I realized what it said. Low choline levels in pregnant women raise the risk for brain and spinal cord defects. 

OK...what's choline and how can we make sure we are getting enough of it?


Choline is a nutrient in the vitamin B family and it's found in egg yolks, wheat germ, soy, cauliflower, and beef.

Health News Digest reports on the importance for an expecting mother to get her choline -- a newborn has a greater risk for spinal chord and brain defects if she is lacking the nutrient. It's also great to increase intake turing pregnancy.

The study noted in HND does point out how these defects have become less common since 1996's decision to "fortify the U.S. food supply with folic acid, a B-vitamin shown to prevent the defects." But still more needs to be done because "about 500 pregnancies per year are affected by neural tube defects in California alone," Gary Shaw, doctor of public health, professor of neonatology, and the author of the study said.

"'As choline levels went up, risk went down,' Shaw said. Risk for neural tube defects was 2.4 times higher in women with the lowest blood choline levels compared to women with average blood choline levels."

Shaw cautioned that choline intake cannot change an individual's genetic predisposition to these defects.

More research needs to be done, but why not up your intake anyway? Most prenatal vitamins contain little or no choline.

For women who want to become pregnant, "the best source for choline is still eating a variety of foods," Shaw concluded.

Do you eat foods with choline?

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