IVF Babble

Spotlight on Choline, are you getting enough?

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

The importance of getting enough choline before and during pregnancy is becoming more widely understood. Choline is required for a variety of physiological activities during pregnancy, including membrane formation and tissue growth, neurotransmission and brain development, as well as methyl group donation and gene expression. Supplementing diet with extra choline improves numerous pregnancy outcomes and protects against specific neurological and metabolic insults, according to animal and human studies. Most pregnant women in the across the world do not meet the recommended choline intake of 425-450 mg per day (up to 550mg per day if breastfeeding) and may benefit from increasing their choline intake by dietary and/or supplementary means.

Choline, like vitamin D and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can be produced in the body, but not in sufficient quantities to meet metabolic demands of the body.

What exactly is choline?

Choline is a water-soluble compound. It’s not a vitamin or a mineral in the typical sense. However, because of their similarities, it is frequently classified with the vitamin B complex. In essence, this nutrient has an impact on a variety of important bodily functions and processes.

Which foods are good sources of choline?

Choline rich foods include:

Lean chicken

Shiitake Mushrooms

Fish

Lean pork

Eggs

Beef

Prawns

Beans

Milk (cow’s)

Broccoli

Green peas

Nuts

Legumes

Cauliflower

Brussel Sprouts

Cottage Cheese

Why is Choline useful preconceptionally and during pregnancy?

Choline aids in the growth of the placenta and essential organs during the early stages of pregnancy.

Helps in the prevention of neural tube abnormalities in the developing foetus  (folate, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 can also provide great protection against this).

Supports in the healthy development of the brain and spinal cord in the developing foetus.

Helps with better brain and cognitive outcomes.

It aids in the development of a child’s visual memory and attention span.

Immune supporting Shiitake Mushroom and Pak Choi broth

Ingredients (3 portions – double up as appropriate)

8 shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and thinly cut

4 Pak choy, washed and cut vertically in half

1.5 tbsp rice vinegar

3 garlic, grated

2 thumb-sized ginger, peeled and grated

Pinch of Sea salt

200g noodles of your choice

700 ml of vegetable stock

1 tbsp of Olive oil

How to make:

In a saucepan, cook the noodles according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

Use the same saucepan to bring the vegetable stock to the boil and place aside.

In a wok over a medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the garlic and ginger, cook for roughly about 1-2 mins.

Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook until soft.

Then, add the pak choi and cook until soft, but still crunchy.

Add rice vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and continuously to stir for another 1-2 mins. Adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Into serving bowls, first add the noodles, then the vegetable stock. Finally top the bowl with Pak Choi and Shiitake mushrooms

Interesting reading:

Caudill MA. Pre- and postnatal health: evidence of increased choline needs. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Aug;110(8):1198-206. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.05.009. PMID: 20656095.

Derbyshire, E., Obeid, R., & Schön, C. (2021). Habitual Choline Intakes across the Childbearing Years: A Review. Nutrients, 13(12), 4390. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124390

Radziejewska A, Chmurzynska A. Folate and choline absorption and uptake: Their role in fetal development. Biochimie. 2019 Mar;158:10-19. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2018.12.002. Epub 2018 Dec 6. Erratum in: Biochimie. 2019 May;160:129. PMID: 30529042.

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