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August 2017

Choline: An important but commonly overlooked prenatal vitamin

Most women know they need folic acid during pregnancy, but many don't know the importance of choline. There is some evidence that getting more choline during pregnancy and lactation is associated with a reduced risk of neural tube defects and an increase in infant and child cognitive development. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine advises women to get 450 mg of choline daily during pregnancy and 550 mg daily during breastfeeding. Most women can get this amount of choline from their diet. Eggs are one of the best sources. Eating two eggs provides about 250 mg of choline. Many other foods including liver, whole grains, nuts, and beans also contain choline. If women aren’t getting enough choline from their diet, a prenatal supplement that contains choline may be needed. But it’s important that women check their prenatal vitamin labels, since many prenatal vitamins don’t contain much choline. Women who don’t get enough choline from their diet and who take a prenatal vitamin that does not contain choline may need to take a separate choline supplement.

For more details on choline, review our scientific monograph

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