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Prenatal supplement helps the body use key nutrients more efficiently for fetal brain development

A recent study shows that ingesting 500 milligrams of the nutrient choline helps the body more effectively metabolize an omega-3 fatty acid that is crucial for fetal brain, cognition and vision development.

Choline helps the body utilize an essential nutrient during a baby’s development

The nutrient choline has already been proven to have long-term benefits for children whose mothers eat it during pregnancy. However, a recent study has shown that it can also help the body use an omega 3 fatty acid more effectively[{” attribute=””>acid that is crucial for the fetal brain, cognition, and eyesight development.

The research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on May 16th, 2022.

The results demonstrate that choline supplementation helps cellular metabolism more effectively manage and release the omega 3 fatty acid, DHA, from a pregnant woman’s liver. DHA, once in the circulation, can reach all tissues, including the placenta.

“During pregnancy, mom is primed to get nutrients out of the liver and make them available to the baby, so by supplementing choline and DHA [together]increase the bioavailability of DHA,” said senior author Marie Caudill, professor of nutritional sciences at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on Cornell University† Kevin Klatt, Ph.D. ’18, researcher and registered dietitian at the University of California, Berkeleyis the first author of the newspaper.

These forms of interactions between nutrients and nutrients are not new, according to Caudill. In the gut, for example, vitamin D improves calcium absorption, while vitamin C increases iron availability.

Caudill and Cornell colleagues have also shown that high maternal choline intake reduces a baby’s stress response, improves information processing, and has long-term benefits with sustained attention (as shown in a study that followed children up to age 7). and that choline reduces a contributing factor to preeclampsia in pregnant women.

In this study, a group of 30 women in gestational weeks 12 to 16 were randomly divided into two groups: One was given 500 milligrams of choline per day plus 50 milligrams of choline labeled with deuterium per day so it could be tracked by the body. The other group served as controls and received 25 milligrams per day of the labeled choline alone. All participants also received a daily 200-milligram supplement of DHA, a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement, and were able to follow their normal diet. Blood and urine samples were collected after fasting at the beginning of the experiment for a baseline, and then during gestational weeks 20-24 and weeks 28-30. Mother’s blood and umbilical cord blood were also collected during the delivery.

By tracking the labeled choline, the researchers identified a chemical reaction in which choline donates small molecules called methyl groups that are added to a molecule called phosphatidylethanolamine. Via a biological pathway, phosphatidylethanolamine is converted into a new choline-containing molecule, phosphatidylcholine, which is enriched in DHA. In this form, DHA is transferred from the liver into a mother’s bloodstream, where it is available for use in tissues.

Future work will help determine whether choline’s ability to improve DHA bioavailability contributes to some of the benefits found when pregnant women supplement choline.

“Our results suggest that choline supplementation may help achieve higher DHA status with lower DHA doses during pregnancy,” Klatt said. “Our data point to choline intake as another important determinant of the amount of dietary DHA that passes into tissues during pregnancy.”

Co-authors include researchers from Baylor College of Medicine; the[{” attribute=””>University of California, Berkeley; Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand; OmegaQuant Analytics in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; the University of British Columbia in Vancouver; Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca; and the University of Texas, Austin.

The study was funded by the Balchem Corporation; the Cornell Institute of Biotechnology’s Center for Advanced Technology through the New York State Division of Science, Technology and Innovation; and the United States Department of Agriculture. The funding sources had no role in the study design, data interpretation or publication of results.

Reference: “Prenatal choline supplementation improves biomarkers of maternal docosahexaenoic acid status among pregnant participants consuming supplemental DHA: a randomized controlled trial” by Kevin C Klatt, Melissa Q McDougall, Olga V Malysheva, Siraphat Taesuwan, Aura (Alex) P Loinard-González, Julie E H Nevins, Kara Beckman, Ruchika Bhawal, Elizabeth Anderson, Sheng Zhang, Erica Bender, Kristina H Jackson, D Janette King, Roger A Dyer, Srisatish Devapatla, Ramesh Vidavalur, J Thomas Brenna and Marie A Caudill, 16 May 2022, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac147

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