Questions about Choline and Pregnancy from a Mother

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Just got the following questions from a woman considering high choline supplementation - here are her questions and my responses:

"I'm about to start choline diet since we'd like to try for a second child but I'd like to ask you a few questions.

I've read pretty much all the articles on your website and came up with the below questions:

1.Is obtaining lecithin from SOY better than non-soy sources? If I supplement with sunflower lecithin for example, would I get the same result based on your research? There are some sunflower lecithin products on the market and I'd really like to try it over soy-lecithin if it works the same."


My response:  All the research is focused on choline (typically choline chloride in animals and Phosphatydilcholine in humans) - so the issue of the source of the choline is not really discussed in the literature - so  sunflower vs. soy is not something I've done any research on.  Some people have concerns about the the phytoestrogens that could potentially be in some soy-derived products - so I understand the concern.  I don't know if there have been any studies on issues associated with Sunflower-derived sources - but I doubt it.  There may be more data on soy-derived products just because there is so much more soy in the global diet these days.  I suspect that any soy sources would be much cheaper - but ultimately it comes down to the choline levels I think.  If you can get the higher levels of choline - phosphatidylcholine - I think you're probably doing what the research also optimized.  I went with Soy Lecithin derived solutions because researchers I talked to suggested it, and it seemed to be what all the human studies that are in process now are using.

2.Does the choline intake of 3.5 gr for pregnant women and 1 gr for kids needs to be ON A DAILY basis or can we just take a few times a week?

My Response:   I suspect that the optimal dosing is on a daily basis - what you're trying to do is keep a high level of choline in the circulating blood stream so that the rapidly growing child's brain always has access to it as its is adding new cells.  That said, this isn't an issue that I've ever seen an studies on specifically. However,  if you want to maximize the positive impact, you probably want to take it daily, is my thinking.  Part of the issue is a practical one too - 3.5 grams of choline in the form of even triple strength lecithin (concentrate - what we used) - is A LOT of choline pills.  My wife was not too happy about the number of pills she was taking.  If you tried to take a few days worth, or a week's worth in one day - I think you'd be at the dinner table all day, with a very unpleasant meal.  I actually got a bunch of those huge pill boxes for old people for my wife (yes - she was less than enthused about this) and filled them up for breakfast, lunch and dinner vitamins.  Spreading them out during the day seemed like the best idea from an "implementation" standpoint. 

3. I was reading your answer to one of the readers question and u were saying that Choline bitrate hasn't been studied much and thus doesnt show the same result from Lecithin or it is not same as other type of choline. But on the other hand, u also mentioned that u did take 50% of choline bitrate and 50% of lecithin during ur 2. pregnancy.I just dont understing why would follow this protocol if u think choline bitrate does not work same as Lecithin. I would appreciate if you clarify that part for me.

My Response: I've only recently come to the decision that a higher Choline Lecithin mix is perhaps optimal (after my kids were born) - because I've talked with other parents who have had great results with just the Lecithin.  My rationale for going with the choline bitartrate was two fold - one, because I had seen the old Mid 1980s - research that suggested high levels of Lecithin could be problematic for brain development (and this is why I would't go a whole lot higher than the the 3 or 4 grams a day level that is currently recommended as maximum).  Secondly - choline bitartrate is much more "concentrated" choline than Lecithin derived choline is.  You can buy 500mg Choline Bitartrate vitamins on the Internet very easily - but the highest concentration Lecithin/Phosophatidylcholine is something like 280 mg - so you can get a lot more choline into your body with a lot fewer pills with Choline Bitartrate.  That was the rationale before - but as I said, I've spoken with other parents now who took the pure Lecithin approach without any problems, and with all the benefits.  So if I were to have another kid - I'd go with all Lecithin, or at least 75% or higher Lecithin.

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