Keeping track of all the essential nutrients your body needs can feel a little overwhelming at times. What do you need more of? What do you need less of? Unless you are regularly getting blood work done, those can be difficult questions to answer.
However, some deficiencies are more common than others and if you aren’t prioritizing certain foods, it can be a pretty safe bet that you are lacking a few essential nutrients.
One of these nutrient deficiencies that is seldom talked about is choline. Choline isn’t on nutrition labels and technically it isn’t a vitamin or a mineral. It is loosely related to the B-vitamin family but it is really its own thing. It’s like the red-headed step child of your essential micronutrients.
Our bodies make some choline, but not enough to meet our needs, which is why the Institute of Medicine classified it as an essential nutrient in 1998. The recommended intake of choline varies with age, but for most adults, anywhere between 400 mg to 550 mg seems to be adequate. However, pregnant women do have a significantly higher need for choline with official recommendations landing at just over 900 mg per day.
Why is the need for choline so high throughout pregnancy and during breastfeeding? Well, it turns out that choline is vital for brain development before birth and during infancy.
Click HERE for one of the best choline prenatal supplements on the market (some prenatals don’t add it!)
Pregnancy and infancy aside, choline deficiencies can pose significant health risks to adults as well. You see, choline is a key component in building and maintaining a healthy nervous system. It also plays a role in DNA synthesis, cell messaging, and fat transfer and metabolism.
According to data collected a few years ago, only 1 out of every 10 Americans are getting enough choline in their diet and unfortunately those percentages drop even lower among women, and even lower than that among women during pregnancy. We could all use some more choline but unfortunately the best dietary sources for this essential nutrient have been in the crosshairs of mainstream health recommendations for decades.
Egg yolks are by far the best dietary source for choline you can get, with red meat and poultry trailing not too far behind. The shift towards veggie “egg white only” omelets and plant based protein alternatives as “healthier food options” hasn’t done us any favors when it comes to dealing with the choline deficiency issue in the U.S.
The key takeaway? Egg yolks are not the enemy, but rather some of the most nutrient dense food options you can find. Yes they have cholesterol and yes that is where the fat content of the egg comes from, but eating 2-3 eggs a day as part of a whole food, balanced diet is not the type of cholesterol and fat you should be worried about.
And if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure your prenatal routine includes an adequate amount of choline. Most options out there unfortunately do not!