Nutritional Benefits of Choline-Rich Foods and Why Pregnant Women Should Care About it?

Nutritional Benefits of Choline-Rich Foods and Why Pregnant Women Should Care About it?

Some nutrients are not so familiar following their recent discovery but their significance cannot be ignored especially when it comes to early development of a human being. One such nutrient is choline benefits of which we shall discuss in the below story along with food sources.

What role does choline play in our body?

An essential nutrient, choline is neither a mineral nor a vitamin, although it is often associated with B-vitamin group of chemicals. The water-soluble compound plays a key role in several biological processes including brain, liver and metabolism. Human body produces small amount of this nutrient but not enough to meet the requirements.

Brain functioning

Choline is required for proper cognitive functioning including development of brain and memory enhancement. It is required to make healthy fats which play a vital role in the structural integrity of the cell membranes. Choline is extremely crucial for pregnant women because developing babies make rapid use of this chemical while their brain, nerve channels and cell structure are forming.

Some other research suggests that adequate consumption of choline in initial years of life can help in lifelong memory enhancement. Other studies show that choline may also help prevent memory loss associated with aging.

Liver health

Lack of choline may harm liver as it help transport of fat and remove cholesterol from liver. The partial responsibility of cleaning the fat build-up lies on choline. In a study, people from different groups such as men, pre and post-menopausal women who were deprived of choline developed fatty liver or muscle damage.

Other

Choline collaborates with other vitamins including folate and B12, and streamlines the process related to DNA synthesis. In some studies it has been found that it reduces the risk of heart diseases, however, many researches conflict this belief.

How much should be daily choline intake?

Due to lack of sufficient evidence, experts haven’t reached a consensus on recommended daily intake. Also, as its presence in different foods is not fully known, it’s hard to determine its intake. However, Institute of Medicine has set a daily dietary intake which is sufficient for most people. Here is the recommended dietary intake for different individuals:

Infants

  • From birth to 6 months old – 125mg/day
  • 7 months to 12 months old – 150mg/day

Toddler and Children

  • 1-3 years old – 200mg/day
  • 4-8 years old – 250mg/day
  • 9-13 years old – 375mg/day

Male adolescent and adults

  • 14-18 years old – 550mg/day
  • 19 years old and above – 550mg/day

Female adolescent and adults

  • 14-18 years old – 400mg/day
  • 19 years old and above – 425mg/day

Pregnant and breastfeeding women

  • Pregnancy – 450mg/day
  • Breastfeeding – 550mg/day

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What are the health effects of overdose and deficiency of choline?

There are good and bad sides of everything, so both deficiency and overdose can be a problem. In terms of choline deficiency, it can cause harm to liver leading to muscle damage. In pregnant women, lack of adequate choline may put the unborn baby at the risk of neural tube defects.

In addition to that, low consumption of choline may also increase the likelihood of pregnancy complications including preeclampsia, preterm birth and low birth weight. However, deficiency of choline in general population is rare but certain group of individuals such as endurance athletes, alcoholics, pre and post-menopausal women might be at increased risk, as choline requirements increases in these individuals.

On the other hand, too much of choline can also create problem such as diarrhoea, low blood pressure, fatigue, excessive sweating and fishy smell from the body.

Foods that prevent deficiency of choline

People taking wholesome and nutritious diet may not find any problem in getting adequate choline. However, it might be possible many people don’t rely on various food sources and this may create deficiency of this choline in their body. In that case, here is the list of veg and non-veg foods one can have to fulfil the deficit of this important nutrient.

Non-veg foods for choline deficiency

Beef liver

Beef liver, besides rich in choline offers a number of healthy nutrients including phosphorus, zinc, selenium, copper, sulphur and folate. It is also loaded with iron, however, it is high in cholesterol.

Dietary intake – 1 slice or 68 grams can give 290mg of choline, more than half of today dietary requirement of an adult.

Chicken liver

This is one of the best foods for pregnant women who are commonly affected by anaemia due to extra demand of blood during this phase. Chicken liver is high in folate, iron and contains high dose of choline as well.

Dietary intake – 1 slice or 68 grams of chicken liver contains 222mg of choline, 40 percent of what needed for an adult on a daily basis.

Eggs

There is no secret why eggs are called as superfoods on this planet and choline is one of the numerous benefits you derive from them. Eggs are also rich in protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, phosphorus and vitamin B12.

Dietary intake – 1 large egg hard-boiled will give 113mg of choline, about 45 percent what small children will require daily.

Salmon

One food which is rich in both protein and omega-3 fatty acids is none other than salmon (rawas) fish. Besides loaded with phosphorus, salmon contains high mount of choline as well.

Dietary intake – 110 gram fillet serving will give 62.7mg, 11 percent of an adult’s daily dietary requirement.

Veg-foods for getting choline

Cauliflower

Though it’s notorious for being a gaseous food, the immense benefits will let you ignore this one con. Cauliflower is an excellent food for weight loss and is loaded with essential vitamins besides offering sound levels of choline.

Dietary intake – Half cup of boiled cauliflower contains about 24.2mg of choline, percent of required dietary value.

Broccoli

This hearty tasty vegetable from the cruciferous family packs bunch of nutrients with vitamin C topping the list. Broccoli fulfils good amount of dietary fiber besides vitamin A, vitamin B6, magnesium and small amounts of choline.

Dietary intake – Half cup offers 31.3mg of choline, 5 percent of the total daily dietary value.

Chickpeas

Known as ‘kabuli chana’, this culinary ingredient often used in Indian dishes and contains healthy nutritional benefits including high amount magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium and iron.

Dietary intake – Half cup or 100 grams of uncooked chickpeas can give about 100 mg of choline, which is 18 percent of the total daily dietary intake.

Goat milk

This is the only dairy product in the list of foods rich in choline and comes with immense health benefits. Goat milk is an ideal food loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein. It also contains healthy dose of calcium and phosphorus.

Dietary intake – 1 cup of goat milk gives about 39mg of choline or 8 percent of the total intake needed daily.

Most individuals are able to meet their daily choline requirement. However, if you really think you are deficient on this nutrient, consult your doctor or dietician.

Sources

1. Choline Factsheet. read more
2. Choline and Neural Tube Defects. read more
3. Choline and fetal development. 
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