Choline: The essential but forgotten nutrient

November 27, 2017 – Perhaps it’s because you don’t see it on nutrition labels yet, but choline — an essential nutrient from conception through old age — tends to be tragically overlooked. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only 1 in 10 of us get enough choline, and those percentages drop among women during pregnancy — right when they need it most.

Choline is neither a vitamin nor a mineral, although it’s loosely related to the B-vitamin family. 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. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set a daily recommended intake of 550 milligrams (mg) per day for men and 425 mg per day for women — with 450 mg during pregnancy and 550 mg during breast-feeding.

Why does this matter? Because choline is vital for brain development before birth and during infancy, and choline deficiency can pose significant health risks in adults as well. Here’s what you need to know. Read more.

This article was originally published November 2, 2017 in The Seattle Times.
by Carrie Dennent
Special to The Seattle TimesRead more.


Why Ironman’s Mother Didn’t Drink Alcohol During Pregnancy

November 27, 2017 – In the Marvel movie Iron Man, Tony Stark (Iron Man) is a genius inventor who creates a suit of armor, giving himself enhanced strength and the ability to fly. Although Tony Stark carries the name “Iron Man” for his suit of metal armor, his name is also an apt description of the abundance of iron that he has in his body, especially in his brain. The human body requires iron to function normally, and without enough iron, adults feel fatigued and have difficulty concentrating. Iron is even more essential during pregnancy. If Tony Stark’s mother had not consumed enough iron during pregnancy, it is unlikely that he would have become a brilliant inventor, because iron is necessary for the proper development of the infant’s brain. Read more.

by Kaylee Helfrich
Doctoral Student in Nutrition, Smith Lab
UNC Nutrition Research Institute