March 27, 2014

Prenatal Choline Impact on Language Acquisition

filed under: Choline Benefits Personal Experience
Our 5-year old had a verbal test of Mandarin proficiency last month for entering into Kindergarten (a Mandarin immersion program we are considering).  She scored 99 out of 100 on the test and the people administering the test (and in the office) were blown away by her fluency.  Its not often they see little white kids perfectly fluent in Mandarin, she said.  One Chinese (American born Chinese) woman jokingly said she wanted our daughter to teach her Mandarin.  

I'm a believer in prenatal choline supplementation, needless to say.


January 24, 2014

Interesting new research on choline and pregnancy

filed under: Prenatal Choline Research Study
My last post got me hunting around on pubmed for the latest interesting science papers on prenatal choline (choline during pregnancy) supplementation.  Here is a short list of what I found interesting:

Nutrition in pregnancy: the argument for including a source of choline.

Long-lasting effects of prenatal dietary choline availability on object recognition memory ability in adult rats.

The role of nutrition in children's neurocognitive development, from pregnancy through childhood.

Choline intake during pregnancy and child cognition at age 7 years.

Very low levels of choline compared to the higher level studies.


January 24, 2014

One Visitor's Questions about Pregnancy and Choline

filed under: Choline Benefits Personal Experience Prenatal Choline Research Study
Recently got this email from a woman.  Here is the email and my responses so others can learn from it:


I come from Denmark and have been very interested in your website through my pregnancy. Im 34 weeks along now.

I have some questions I hope you are willing to answer.

Since week 10 in my pregnancy I have been taking a soy lecitin supplement containing 520 mg GMO-free lecithin and 60 mg phosphatidylcholin pr capsule (I take 2 a day.) This is the product:

Is this safe or should I stop?

For a week when I was 17-18 weeks pregnant I took another supplement: lecithin granules derived from GMO-free soy beans.

I took 1 tablespoon (about 10 g) a day for a week untill I found a study about some rats who had poor reflexes because their mother-rat was fed with lecithin granules through pregnancy. I stopped imediately after this discovery. I Think the lecthin granules contained about 800 mg choline.

Did this supplement harm my baby?

How much choline or phospatidylcholine (is this the same as choline?) should I consume a Day and which supplement

Here is my response:

I'm not a scientist or a doctor - I just read a lot of the science literature and make the best interpretation that I can.  I recommend you read up on my blog as much as you can to get the full background. I can't tell you what to do. I can just tell you what I would do if I had another baby.

 First of all, you mentioned that "I found a study about some rats who had poor reflexes because their mother-rat was fed with lecithin granules through pregnancy." - I think I saw that study - but it was very old - about 30 years old I think. The many studies since then have not seen that effect and in fact see very good outcomes. Can you send me a link to that study if you can please.  

If you do a search on on "pregnancy and choline" or "prenatal choline" you'll see that about 50 relevant studies have been done over the past 25 years or so on prenatal supplementation with choline during pregnancy.  This you mentioned is  the only study to my knowledge that showed negative results - and its from a relatively unknown lab in Russia (and not from a well-known lab that focuses on choline research).  When I mentioned this study to other researchers who focus on choline research in the USA academic centers - they say that they think that the Russians didn't do a well controlled study - and the results are flawed - because it goes against all the other studies done in the past 25 years.  So - I don't pay much attention to it.

We ended up taking a balanced approach - 50% Phosphatydyl choline and 50% Choline Bitartrate.  But now I would just take the Phosphatydyl choline (other parents I've talked to did just this, one parent just 3 grams of choline in the form of choline Lecithin granules.  And I've talked to researchers - they also recommend phosphatidyl choline and the most recent study (see below regarding the study in preventing mental illness used it too - and has had good results).

You are only taking 120mg of choline - two pills of 60 mg,  ( phosphatidylcholine) which is not even at the level of the minimum recommended daily level during pregnancy. See these documents:

550 mg during pregnancy is the absolute minimum recommended by the medical field here in the USA and most people I've talked to or read about now suggest no less than 900 mg a day - just to minimize deficiencies in choline during pregnancy.

But the research that I've focused on is that if you take much larger amounts that the brain seems to get "turbo charged" and work much better as the child grows - see this research:

In fact, the minimum RDA (recommended daily amount) is about 550 mg of choline a day to prevent a deficit.  However even moderate levels of choline (in the 550 mg to 900mg a day have not shown any of the extra benefit in terms of memory and brain development that the mouse research has shown - see this study:


We took about 3.5 grams of phospatidyl choline a day during our pregnancy - based on soy lecithin (we took probably 10 or 15 grams of lecithin a day , split between breakfast, lunch and dinnner. Our kids are very health and at the top of their classes and at 3.5 and 5 years old they are fluent in Mandarin Chinese and English (better then most of the native Chinese speaker children in their school I am told). 

I don't see anything wrong with the lecithin you are taking - but you are taking a very small amount compared to what we took and what I think is now the best level to take (5 to 6 grams a day).   See this study:

So - the only thing I'd do differently if I were you is to increase the level of Lecithin to this higher level to get the expected benefits in terms of brain development.  The experts are doing tests with this higher level (see the study above) so I think it safe. (but of course others may disagree).

You asked "How much choline or phospatidylcholine (is this the same as choline?) should I consume a Day and which supplement?"

Phosphatydyl choline is a type of choline - and the one the I and other parents I've talked to think is the best source.

And also used a lot of the granules (I mixed it into Quiches, and spaghetti sauce, etc.) and we also ate a lot of egg yolks - the best source.

Your sources are a lot more expensive than our sources, unfortunately.

Lastly - since you're pregnant right now - I recommend you read this page and the associated documents:

I hope this helps


December 10, 2013

Update on our High Choline Children

filed under: Personal Experience
I'm way too busy for a detailed update - but generally things are going well.

Both our children - age 3 and 5 now - are top in their preschool classes in their Mandarin language abilities (as well as English) - and are very happy, curious and quick-to-learn kids. 

One interesting fact that our younger child's teacher recently pointed out is that the younger child can (even at this age) effortlessly switch between the languages without any delays or "having to think for a moment" - and gets humor in both languages.  

We need to work a little on the boy's empathy towards other children - but its nothing thats out of the normal range. Our son stopped napping before age 2, and is still one of the two most active kids in his class (all but one other kid in his class still naps).

All in all, things seem to be going very good for our children.

Thats it for now.

Feel free to email me with your experiences and questions.  

admin (at)

December 10, 2013

Vitamin B: Choline Intake Improves Memory and Attention-Holding Capacity, Experts Say

filed under: Choline Benefits Prenatal Choline Research Study

July 11, 2013 -- An experimental study in rats has shown that consuming choline, a vitamin B group nutrient found in foodstuffs like eggs and chicken or beef liver, soy and wheat germ, helps improve long-term memory and attention-holding capacity. The study, conducted by scientists at the University of Granada (Spain) Simón Bolívar University, (Venezuela) and the University of York (United Kingdom), has revealed that choline is directly involved in attention and memory processes and helps modulate them.

Researchers studied the effects of dietary supplements of choline in rats in two experiments aimed at analysing the influence of vitamin B intake on memory and attention processes during gestation and in adult specimens.

In the first experiment, scientists administered choline to rats during the third term of gestation in order to determine the effect of prenatal choline on the memory processes of their offspring. Three groups of pregnant rats were fed choline-rich, standard or choline-deficient diets. When their offspring had reached adult age, a sample of 30 was selected: 10 were female offspring of dams fed a choline-supplement, 10 had followed a choline-deficient diet and the other 10, a standard diet, acting as a control group.

Long-term memory

This sample of adult offspring underwent an experiment to measure their memory retention: 24 hours after being shown an object all the offspring (whether in the choline-supplement group or not) remembered it and it was familiar to them However, after 48 hours, the rats of dams fed a prenatal choline-rich diet recognized the object better than those in the standard diet group, while the choline-deficient group could not recognize it. Thus, the scientists concluded that prenatal choline intake improves long-term memory in the resulting offspring once they reach adulthood.

In the second experiment, the researchers measured changes in attention that occurred in adult rats fed a choline supplement for 12 weeks, versus those with no choline intake. They found that the rats which had ingested choline maintained better attention that the others when presented with a familiar stimulus. The control group, fed a standard diet, showed the normal learning delay when this familiar stimulus acquired a new meaning. However, the choline-rich intake rats showed a fall in attention to the familiar stimulus, rapidly learning its new meaning.

The study has been undertaken by University of Granada Department of Experimental Psychology researchers Isabel De Brugada-Sauras and Hayarelis Moreno-Gudiño (also on the research staff of Simón Bolívar University together with Diamela Carias); Milagros Gallo-Torre, researcher in the University of Granada Department of Psychobiology and Director of the "Federico Olóriz" University Research Institute for Neuroscience; and Geoffrey Hall, of the Department of Psychology of the University of York. Their study has recently given rise to publications in Nutritional Neuroscience and Behavioural Brain Research.