Expert warns that 93% of women of childbearing age are not receiving a key nutrient
Many women don’t get enough of a key pregnancy nutrient that could be vital for a child’s brain development, an expert warns, but a quick change in diet can help moms-to-be ensure their child gets the substance you need.
Dr. Steven Zeisel, a nutrition expert at the University of North Carolina, told DailyMail.com that choline, a little-known essential nutrient, may be key to human brain development, but many don’t get enough of it. the uterus or in the early years. of life.
He says that research has found that the nutrient is essential in brain development, and that the onus is on the mother to pass it on to her child, either while pregnant or through breast milk after birth.
However, not many know the importance of choline, and that children who do not get enough during their first three years of life perform worse on cognitive tests and often have poorer attention spans than their peers.
One expert says pregnant women should consume at least 450mg of choline every day to ensure their baby develops a healthy brain, which can be obtained by eating three eggs a day (file photo)
Zeisel explains that the first 1,000 days of life, or about three years, is when the brain forms. During this period, choline is key to making sure it develops properly.
If the key development does not occur, it is likely to affect the child for the rest of his life.
“If there is poor development in those early stages of life, then the brain is not developing properly and cognition … at seven years of age is worse,” he said.
‘School performance in 15-year-olds [who did not receive enough choline] it’s not that good
The stem cells that make up the brain require [choline] at a critical period of development, and if it’s not there during that time, the structure of the brain doesn’t form normally. After that, cognition is not as good as usual.
Dr. Steven Zeisel (pictured), a nutrition expert at the University of North Carolina, told DailyMail.com that choline is a key childbearing nutrient that many women don’t get enough of.
He also said that children who don’t get enough choline in their early years are more likely to have cleft palates.
Zeisel also noted that research has shown that the nutrient may help mitigate some of the damage young children face from fetal alcohol syndrome.
However, this is a relatively recent discovery. She said the first link between the nutrient and brain function was made in 1998, and the Food and Drug Administration didn’t set recommended daily intake levels for pregnant women until 2016.
Because of this, many prenatal vitamins didn’t include the crucial substance on their ingredient list until relatively recently, as pediatricians have pushed for more of the common multivitamins used by pregnant women to include choline.
Another way to get choline is through food, with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) putting together a guide by the amount of choline present in common foods.
Officials recommend that a pregnant woman get at least 450 milligrams (mg) of the nutrient every day, and ideally around 900 mg.
Eggs are the largest source of choline, with the USDA reporting that 100 grams of a whole egg provides 250 mg of choline. A single egg, Zeisel says, contains about 150 mg.
This means that eating three eggs every day will be enough for a woman to reach her daily intake.
Zeisel points out that many may not be eating as many eggs now as they did in the past, as the breakfast staple has since been relegated due to concerns about high cholesterol.
For those concerned about cholesterol, there are still other options to get your daily intake of choline.
The USDA notes that eggs are the largest source of choline, followed by meat and fish, whole grains, cereals, fruits and vegetables, and cow’s milk.
Red meat and fish are also considered excellent sources of the nutrient, with more than 75 mg in every 100 g of the food. Other good sources include whole grains, cereals, and fruits and vegetables.
Milk can also be a great source, and especially so for young children who regularly drink milk as part of their daily diet.
Zeisel says parents should make sure their kids drink cow’s milk, not popular milk alternatives like almond or oat milk that don’t contain choline.
Mothers themselves should also make sure they get enough choline if they are breastfeeding, as the nutrient is passed through breast milk to the nursing baby.
The FDA also requires that infant formula, which is often used as a replacement for breast milk for mothers who are unable to breastfeed for any reason, contain enough choline to match typical breast milk.
Women of European descent should be more vigilant about monitoring their choline intake during pregnancy, says Zeisel, as some may have a genetic mutation that prevents their body from producing the nutrient naturally.