Vegan Sources of Choline

By Hannah Whittaker RD, PGDip | Dec 14, 2022

Choline is one of the forgotten nutrients. As a crucial nutrient during pregnancy choline is essential. It plays an important role in pregnancy in the development of nerves, neurotransmitters and cells in your growing baby. However, many people don’t think about choline and more so the vegan sources of choline.

In this blog post, I will discuss some of the best vegan sources of choline and how this essential nutrient can support you and your growing baby.

What is choline?

Choline is nutrient that was discovered not too long ago in 1998. It is crucial in pregnancy for the development of your babies brain, tissues, gene development and optimum function of the placenta. 

We know that animal based sources are some of the main sources of choline, however…one study in 2017 amongst non-vegan pregnant women found that only 8.5% of pregnant women (out of 593) met their choline requirements. Surprising!

Therefore, eating a non-vegan diet doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get enough choline, and following a vegan diet doesn’t mean you’ll lack choline.

In 2018 the American Academy of Paediatrics called choline a ‘brain building’ nutrient and asked that paediatricians across the US chat to ALL pregnant women about the importance of this nutrient during pregnancy.

Choline’s effectiveness during pregnancy is linked to its interaction with folate. If you’re not consuming enough folate, your need for choline will increase. Hence, it’s important to check your folate levels too!

The role of choline during pregnancy

It is just amazing! Choline support;

  • Rapid cell division and growth
  • Development of your baby’s nervous system
  • Development of your baby’s memory
  • Improving yours and your baby’s attention span
  • Helping to developing your baby’s hand-eye coordination
  • Reducing baby’s stress in the womb.
  • Reducing the risk of your baby developing disease in later life
  • Your placenta function
  • Development of new blood vessels
  • Nutrient transport around your body and your baby’s
  • Reducing risk of infection due to anti-inflammatory effects.

Basically choline is amazing! 

Choline rich foods in a plant based pregnancy

Choline is made in small amounts in your liver, but you can’t meet our requirements by this way alone. You need additional amounts of choline through your diet or dietary supplements in a plant based or vegan pregnancy.

Choline is mainly found in animal products such as eggs, fish, and meat. Although plant-based sources are also available, they contain smaller amounts than animal products. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of your choline intake and ensure you get it from various sources in your diet.

My quick guide will help to find the sources

Cauliflower - vegan source of choline in a plant based pregnancy

Choline in pregnancy

Requirements for choline during pregnancy are 450 mg per day.

Is there a best form of vegan sources of choline?

There isn’t any specifics for the best form but here are my top tips.

My top tips

  • Take a daily prenatal supplement that contains a minimum of 200mg of choline. This way you are meeting nearly ½ your requirements this way. My favourite choline prenatal vitamin is *DR VEGAN.
  • Research suggests that during pregnancy, it’s important not to consume more than 3500mg of choline per day. Therefore, it’s essential to be mindful of your choline intake and avoid exceeding this limit.
  • Include vegan choline foods 1-2 times per day – see free download of vegan choline sources
  • Make sure you are also having adequate folate in your diet as low folate can increase requirements for choline.

What are the signs of choline deficiency during pregnancy?

If requirements for choline aren’t met during pregnancy this can have negative effects on baby’s development. 

Some studies have shown affects on baby’s growth, brain and blood vessel development. 

Summary

Overall, including vegan sources of choline in your diet and taking the necessary pregnancy supplements can help meet your body’s requirements for this essential nutrient

If you need any help with your diet in pregnancy then do get in touch via the contact bump2baby nutrition here. 

As always there is further research needed into this new nutrient but overall it shows the importance of meeting requirements in a plant based or vegan pregnancy to support your baby’s development. 

Hannah x

*As a Dr Vegan Associate I earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at | info@bump2babynutrition.com | Website | + posts

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.

Credentials

  • Registered Dietitian
  • First Class Degree in Nutrition

Experience

  • Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
  • Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
  • Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition

 

 

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