Did You Know That The Top 25 Prenatals Don't Include Adequate Choline?
We haven’t been shy about sharing the importance of Choline in pregnancy, and it’s well established that most mamas don’t get enough. In fact, a 2010 study found that as many as 95% of pregnant women do not consume enough Choline to meet their dietary needs of 450mg daily (550mg when breastfeeding). But despite the need and the gap, the top 25 prenatals on the market still don’t include adequate Choline. We wanted to know why, and we thought you might too.
But before we get into the discussion, here’s a little refresher on the importance of Choline that we dig into in this post:
- Choline delivers Omega-3 DHA to the developing fetus through its role in lipid transport. Choline also works synergistically with DHA, increasing the amount of DHA that gets incorporated into baby’s cells to support brain and eye development.
- Choline can protect against birth defects. Research shows that the lowest rates of neural tube defects are directly correlated with the mother’s Choline status in pregnancy.
- Choline reduces baby’s response to stress, can improve childhood visual memory, and improve motor performance in tasks requiring accuracy.
- Choline levels in breastmilk are directly linked to a mama’s current levels of Choline. In other words, the more mama consumes, the more baby gets.
So the big question is: If Choline is so critical to mama and baby’s health, and if so many mamas are deficient, why do nearly all other prenatals fall short of the recommended daily allowance?
When we set out to build our own prenatal from the ground up, we wondered this too. So we did what we do with every nutrient - we dug into the research and worked with our practitioner team to identify the proper form and amount to optimally nourish mamas and their babies. Our research revealed why so many prenatals are lacking in Choline. Here’s what we found:
While research around Choline’s importance has existed for more than 20 years, there is a lag in awareness among supplement companies and in the curriculum that informs recommendations by obstetricians and other providers. The RDA for Choline was established in 1998 vs. 1941 for many other nutrients, and supplement companies are slow to adapt to changes, particularly when the general public isn’t demanding changes.
Yes, bulky. We mean Choline actually takes up quite a bit of space, and its size makes it tough to fit into just a few pills or gummies. In fact, the full 550mg RDA of Choline takes up three entire pills itself! It sounds crazy, but space is a limiting factor for many companies who do not want to move away from their popular 1 (or 2) a-day formulas. What’s crazier is that a leading practitioner brand with a relatively complete formula requires 8 pills a day and still includes only 250mg of Choline (less than half the RDA).
So even though a few companies do include it, they do so in woefully inadequate amounts. While they are able to list it on the label, we’ve found that most include only about 10% of the RDA for Choline.
The lack of Choline in other prenatals may be explained away by assuming that women are consuming the balance of Choline through diet, but the reality is, Choline isn’t abundant in many foods. Its richest sources are beef liver (290mg/2.5 oz.) and whole eggs (150mg/egg). Many women, particularly in early pregnancy are not eating two servings of liver or four eggs daily, so it's unlikely that Choline meets are met by diet alone.
In addition, while some nutrients like Iron can be detrimental in excess doses, there is very little risk to too much Choline. And in fact, quite a bit of research has suggested up to 930mg/day in pregnancy is ideal. So even if you do eat 2-3 eggs per day while taking our Prenatal Multi’s 550mg dosage, you’re well within a safe and optimal range of daily Choline.
It sounds silly, but in reality, the lack of awareness around Choline means it has yet to really “sell” a product (we happen to think that’s bound to change!) Consumers are looking for things like Folate (especially now knowing what we know about Folate vs. Folic Acid), or a prenatal that doesn’t include Iron. We’re encouraged by the growing consumer and practitioner awareness of the need for Choline, and are proud to be on the forefront of offering a Prenatal Multi with the full RDA. The rest of the industry may catch up--eventually!
Our Approach to Choline
We recognize how critical Choline is to both mama and baby, and so we spent years finding a way to include it in an optimal amount. This is one of the reasons we chose a powder form - because it allows us to include optimal amounts and forms of all of the nutrients that mama and baby need.
trusted education is needed.