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Why Two Eggs A Day Aren’t Enough For Choline During Pregnancy


It's becoming more widely known that choline is a critical nutrient for baby's cognitive development during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The current recommendations are 450mg daily when pregnant, increasing to 550mg when breastfeeding. The various points of view on how to get choline is opening the door to debate about the best way to get it—like advice on social media, for example, that two eggs a day are enough to meet daily choline recommendations during pregnancy. That’s inaccurate information, and the Beli team is sharing the best way to get enough choline when you’re pregnant or nursing.

We talk about choline a lot around here, and for good reason. Dr. Taylor Wallace, America’s Favorite Food Scientist and an expert on choline, calls it the “under-consumed and under-appreciated essential nutrient.” Choline is bizarrely absent in many mainstream prenatal vitamins, despite USDA recommendations for pregnant and nursing mothers, and Wallace says that as many as 92% of pregnant women aren’t getting enough of it. (Note: Beli for Women has 400mg of Vitacholine!)

What’s more, the lack of awareness by health professionals means that “choline has been shown to be ranked last among common nutrients as a nutrient to recommend in a healthy diet.” In fact, Wallace says just 6% of obstetricians and gynecologists report that they’re likely to recommend choline-rich foods to pregnant women. 

Key Takeaways

  • Choline rivals folate for its importance in proper spinal cord and brain development, and as many as 92% of pregnant women aren’t getting recommended amounts.
  • Spoiler: Two eggs a day aren’t enough for the recommended amount of choline, especially during pregnancy.
  • Look for a prenatal vitamin with choline to supplement a balanced diet and ensure you’re getting the recommended amount.

Choline & Pregnancy: Facts First

First, let’s quickly set the stage: Many of the most popular prenatal vitamins on the market today don’t meet nutrient recommendations for key nutrients, including folate, vitamin D, magnesium, iodine and—you guessed it—choline (1). That’s a big problem by itself, but let’s focus on what low levels of choline mean for a growing baby.

First recognized in 1998 by the National Academy of Medicine as an essential nutrient, this B-vitamin is absolutely critical for brain development, proper memory, liver and muscle function, and cellular membrane composition. In early pregnancy, often before many people know that they’re pregnant, choline is used for proper spinal cord and brain development and it protects against neural tube defects (2). In fact, it rivals folate in importance at this stage.

According to one study, low maternal dietary choline intake (≤290 mg/day) increased the risk for having a baby with a neural tube defect by approximately two times (3). Extra choline is also essential during early pregnancy for growth of the placenta and maternal organs like the kidneys and the uterus. During the third trimester, choline intake is associated with babies who exhibit faster information processing speeds and even moderately improved visual memory and attention span in later childhood (4).

Truly, it’s difficult to overstate just how important it is to get adequate choline during pregnancy (5). While the human body makes small amounts of choline, it’s not enough to meet our needs, and that’s especially true during pregnancy and breastfeeding, when the daily recommended intake is 450 mg (pregnancy) and 550 mg (breastfeeding).

When mothers are breastfeeding, their choline needs increase. That’s because the body funnels the majority of choline into nourishing breast milk to support her baby’s development. The hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning) continues to develop for years after birth, and sufficient choline during this timeframe is essential.

What's The Best Way To Get Enough Choline During Pregnancy?

Know how much choline an egg has? One hundred forty-seven milligrams, and it’s almost all found in the yolk. Clearly, two eggs a day aren't enough, and forcing yourself to consume four large eggs a day definitely has its drawbacks. It’s boring, repetitive, expensive, not an option if you’re vegetarian or vegan, and rough if you’re dealing with morning sickness. So what about other foods? Let’s take a look at the best sources of choline:

  • Salmon, 187 mg in a 3-oz serving
  • Milk, 38 mg in an 8-oz serving
  • Almonds, 15 mg in a 1-oz serving
  • Brussels sprouts, 32 mg in a ½ cup serving
  • Grass-fed beef, 55 mg in a 3-oz serving
  • Chicken, 58 mg in a ½ cup serving

The issue is that most American diets simply don’t have enough choline-rich foods to hit that daily recommended amount. The two-eggs-a-day thing isn’t only insufficient, it misses the bigger picture, which is that there’s certainly a better way to meet your daily choline target. This is what your prenatal vitamin is for. It supplements your balanced diet to fill in the nutrition gaps, which means you can enjoy some scrambled eggs without stressing.

Of course, as we’ve already established, many prenatal vitamins are missing the mark when it comes to the right nutrients in the right amounts. “It’s shocking that most prenatal formulas don’t contain choline, or have it in such low amounts, considering how critical it is for baby’s brain development,” says Dr. Wallace. It’s especially concerning considering that like the National Academy of Medicine, the American Medical Association (AMA) has been recommending prenatal vitamin supplementation with choline since June 2017 (6). That means it’s up to the consumer to do the research, and we’re here to help. 

Beli for Women was specifically formulated to tick all the nutritional boxes. Take it from Dr. Wallace: “Beli’s modern prenatal is one of the first to include 400 mg of a highly absorbable form of choline that gives women the nutrients they need to support a growing baby in pregnancy and post-pregnancy.” Pair it with some eggs or a serving of chicken or beef, and you’re all set.

The Bottom Line

You and your growing baby need choline during pregnancy. Full stop. To ensure you’re both getting what you need, start taking a prenatal vitamin (with sufficient amounts of choline) the minute you decide you’re ready to try for a baby, eat a balanced diet, and ignore questionable advice on social media!


Article Sources

1. Bell, C. et al (2016). Prenatal Vitamins Deficient in Recommended Choline Intake for Pregnant Women.

2. Choline.

3. Shaw, G et al. (2004). Periconceptional Dietary Intake of Choline and Betaine and Neural Tube Defects in Offspring.

4. Caudill, M et al. (2018). Maternal choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy improves infant information processing speed: a randomized, double-blind, controlled feeding study.

5. Korsmo, H et al. (2019). Choline: Exploring the Growing Science on Its Benefits for Moms and Babies.

6. Wallace, T. AMA recommends choline for pregnant and lactating women.

Additional Resources