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Choline and DHA are important nutrients during pregnancy

Choline and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) support infant brain and eye development according to a new review paper on maternal and infant nutrition.

National survey data indicate that the majority of adult Americans fail to get the recommended amounts of choline and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their diet. Choline and DHA are essential nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the human body and must be acquired from dietary sources. They are involved in many physiological processes and serve as major structural components of cell membranes in the body.

While the average adult needs 425 to 550 mg of choline per day and 250 mg total of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA, daily intake requirements tend to rise in vulnerable populations. Particularly in pregnant and lactating women, there is increased demand for choline and DHA to support fetal development. Leading health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Europe Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have listed choline and DHA as important nutrients during pregnancy.

Choline and DHA support infant brain and eye development due to their abundance in nerve and retinal tissue. A new review paper published by Pharmavite LLC, the makers of Nature Made vitamins, minerals, and supplements highlight current research into the roles of choline and DHA in infant and maternal nutrition. Presented in the journal Nutrients, the researchers suggest that choline and DHA deficits in early life can have long-term implications on infant brain development, cognitive function, and visual function. The early findings also suggest that these nutrients have a greater benefit when taken together, supporting co-supplementation strategies during prenatal and postnatal care. Choline plus DHA is a promising nutrient combination that provides greater sum benefits for mom and baby than either nutrient independently.

According to Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, vice president of science & technology at Pharmavite, “Prenatal care can be improved with a greater understanding of maternal nutrient needs and how an individual’s dietary intake, as well as their genetic and lifestyle factors, may impact metabolism of these important nutrients…as part of prenatal care, it may be beneficial to include testing of key nutrients such as DHA and choline, to ensure adequate intake levels are being met.”

Written by Cheryl Xia, HBMSc


Moggio, P. Study in nutrients shows important role choline and DHA play in infant brain and eye health. EurekAlert! (2019).

Mun, J. G., Legette, L. L., Ikonte, C. J. & Mitmesser, S. H. Choline and DHA in Maternal and Infant Nutrition: Synergistic Implications in Brain and Eye Health. Nutrients 11, 1125 (2019).

Cheryl Xia HBMSc
Cheryl Xia HBMSc
Cheryl is pursuing a Master’s degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Toronto. Her research investigates how contraceptive methods influence cancer risk among BRCA mutation carriers. Cheryl writes about cancer, pharmaceuticals and nutrition for Medical News Bulletin. Her hope is to capture and communicate the latest thrilling advances in science. Cheryl can also be found cooking, listening to podcasts and staying active.


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