Recently in Prenatal Choline Research Study Category

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

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.


May 9, 2013

Videos of Researchers talking about Choline and Pregancy

filed under: Prenatal Choline News Prenatal Choline Research Study
Recently it seems doctors / researchers have started using internet video to start getting their messages to the public.  Here are two videos on the topic of pregnancy and choline consumption.  I especially recommend the first one as it features the leading researcher in the field - Steven Zeisel:


January 15, 2013

Study Indicates that Moderate Prenatal Choline Doesn't Help Children's Brains

filed under: Prenatal Choline Research Study

I communicated by email with the study PI (Primary Investigator) Steven Zeisel on this new study.  He's been pretty vocal in the past with his students (his students have told me), recommending 1.5 grams+ per day of choline for human consumption during pregancy.  

In this study he said his IRB would only allow the 750 mg dosing - so I guess he was hoping for it to be successful even at that lower level. Ultimately he didn't have a choice - since he couldn't proceed without his IRB's approval.

Unfortunately it was too low to see the beneficial impact on the brain.  Now that another study (see study identified in posting below) has come out with a dosing of over 5 grams per day I hope that his IRB allows a higher dosing level.


Taking approximately 800 mg a day of choline during pregnancy does not improve babies' language and memory skills, according to a new study.

The results contrast with earlier studies in animals showing that a choline boost in utero improves rodents' performance on memory tasks. 

Earlier studies have found that pregnant women with very low levels of choline in their diet have a higher chance of delivering a baby with a birth defect. And adults who eat a choline-rich diet perform better on memory tests 

To see if adding extra choline during pregnancy can offer any benefits to babies, Zeisel and his colleagues asked 99 pregnant women to take six pills every day, beginning when they were 18 weeks pregnant and continuing until three months after the baby was born.

Fifty of the moms received fake pills containing corn oil, while 49 received pills with 833 milligrams (mg) of phosphatidylcholine, a form of choline.

The phosphatidylcholine pills added up to 750 mg of choline each day, the equivalent of 170 percent of the recommended level for pregnant women and 140 percent of the recommended daily amount for breastfeeding moms.

When the children were 10 and 12 months old, Zeisel's team gave them a battery of tests to measure short and long term memory, language skills and general development.

There were no differences between the two groups on any of the tests, the team reports in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Marie Caudill, a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who was not involved in the current research, said the study was well conducted, but she offered a number of reasons that might explain the discrepancy between the animal studies and the current findings.

One possibility is that the babies were not tracked long enough to see any differences in their abilities.

"The animal studies demonstrated (that) supplementing the maternal diet with extra choline during pregnancy resulted in lasting beneficial effects on cognitive functioning in the adult offspring and prevented age-related cognitive decline," Caudill told Reuters Health by email.

Additionally, the type of choline used - phosphatidylcholine - might be less effective than choline itself. (Zeisel's group chose not to use choline because it can result in a fishy body odor.)

In addition, the tests may not be "sufficiently challenging," Caudill added.

Zeisel agreed that perhaps as children age and start to perform more complex mental processing, it might be easier to measure if a child has a deficit or a strength.