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by Tia Rains, Ph.D.
Choline is hot! In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration established a Reference Daily Intake value for choline of 550 mg. Then in June of 2017, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates recommended the addition of choline to prenatal vitamins because of its essentiality in promoting cognitive development of the offspring. This was followed in August by a study that showed that more than 90% of pregnant women (as well as adults in general) do not consume recommended intakes of choline.
Now the story continues. This month, Dr. Marie Caudill and colleagues at Cornell University published evidence that infants exposed to higher levels of maternal choline (930 mg/day) during the third trimester have improved information processing speed during the first year of life, an indicator of cognition and intelligence. Similar studies have been conducted in rodents and shown that the cognitive effects of maternal exposure to choline last beyond infancy. Whether the same will be observed in humans remains to be determined. But one thing is clear: there’s much to learn about the role of choline in brain development. Hopefully this study will be a catalyst for other scientists to start unraveling the unknowns about this previously underappreciated nutrient.