If you’re wondering if you need choline in prenatal vitamins, the answer is yes. Find out why choline is essential for a healthy pregnancy.
When it comes to a healthy pregnancy, you hear so much conflicting information about what to eat and what supplements to take.
And you may have heard of choline, which is appearing in many prenatal vitamins these days. Is choline necessary for a healthy pregnancy? Let’s find out.
What is choline?
There are so many foods and nutrients that make up a healthy diet for pregnancy that are important for your prenatal diet. One nutrient in particular is choline, a prenatal nutrient that’s super beneficial.
It’s neither a vitamin nor a mineral, and close to 90 percent of Americans don’t get enough choline!
Plus, just about 9 percent of pregnant women in the United States are meeting the 450 milligram (mg) adequate intake (AI) level for choline, shows current research from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Choline is an essential nutrient for all ages and stages of life––and there’s a surprising connection between choline and prenatal health. You can get the nutrient both from foods and as a dietary supplement.
Choline helps your body function optimally—it’s important for heart health, brain health, memory, prenatal health, and more. It’s really so amazing that choline helps brain development and cognitive functioning!
If you’re pregnant, planning on getting pregnant one day, or know anyone who is planning a family, you must read the info that I’m about to share about choline!
Choline during pregnancy
Let’s talk about choline for prenatal health and beyond. I would definitely recommend getting enough choline either from your diet or prenatal vitamins, based on all the amazing benefits!
Choline lowers stress levels
Scientist Marie Caudill has worked on research that’s specifically focused on the prenatal benefits of choline, especially regarding choline and brain health.
In one of her studies, pregnant women were given higher amounts of choline (930 mg daily), versus a control group receiving a “normal” daily amount of 480 mg.
The babies born to moms getting more choline were chiller, less stressed babies—and they had lower levels of cortisol, aka the stress hormone.
Scientists have found that these lower cortisol levels could lead to a decreased risk of disease—including depression, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure—as the babies grow up.
The lower cortisol levels could also help with the babies’ attention, learning, and memory. In fact, studies shows that the babies of the moms who took in higher amounts of choline were able to process information more quickly.
Choline lowers risk of preeclampsia
As if the health benefits for babies aren’t cool enough, Caudill has performed research about how extra choline intake during pregnancy provides health benefits for the mom to be, too.
Such higher intake levels of choline resulted in lower risk of preeclampsia, a condition during pregnancy that results in risky complications such as high blood pressure. So yes, getting choline in prenatal vitamins is super important for many reasons!
Choline lowers risk of neural tube defects
Getting enough choline also lowers risk of neural tube defects for the baby.
In one study, moms who took in 290 mg to 498 milligrams of choline daily had a lower risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, versus the moms consuming less than 290 mg of choline daily.
How much choline do pregnant women need?
Women should aim for at least 425 mg of choline daily.
Pregnant and lactating women need a little more: 450 mg.
This is according to the adequate intake (AI) levels set forth by the National Academies of Medicine and the Food and Nutrition Board.
Choline foods to eat during pregnancy
Want to know about the best food sources of choline? Food sources of include:
- lemon juice
- chicken breast
- Brussels sprouts.
See, there are lots of ways to increase your intake of choline. Now, go ahead and whip up some choline-boasting recipes!
Do you need a choline supplement during pregnancy?
The answer is probably. While you can get enough choline from a varied and well-planned diet, you may not be getting enough for a healthy pregnancy.
Thankfully, these days, many prenatal vitamins contain choline. Here are a few few options:
Smarty Pants Prenatal Daily Formula Gummy Multivitamin
This prenatal contains 55 mg choline per four gummies.
Designs for Health Prenatal Pro
This prenatal vitamin contains 50 mg choline per four capsules.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin
This prenatal vitamin contains 55 mg choline per tablet.
Choline plays an important role during pregnancy. When it comes to choline in prenatal vitamins, pregnant women will likely want to shop for a supplement that contains choline.
This blog post was updated in August 2022. This content was originally part of a partnership with VitaCholine.
- Marie Caudill
- National Academies of Medicine and the Food and Nutrition Board
- Maternal Choline Supplementation During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy Improves Infant Information Processing Speed: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Feeding Study, FASEB Journal
- Usual Choline Intakes Are Associated with Egg and Protein Food Consumption in the United States, Nutrients
- A Higher Maternal Choline Intake Among Third-Trimester Pregnant Women Lowers Placental and Circulating Concentrations of the Antiangiogenic Factor FMS-Like Tyrosine kinase-1 (sFLT1), FASEB Journal
I’d love to hear from you! Is prenatal choline included in your perfect pregnancy diet? What natural sources of choline do you enjoy eating? What other medical advice do you think is important during pregnancy? Are you at increased risk for any pregnancy-related health conditions?
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