Eating fewer eggs -> eating less choline

eat the yolk for choline

Egg news:

  1. Eggs don’ t have as much cholesterol as previously thought.
  2. That fact may not be very relevant anyway.  Ten years ago, the American Heart Association dropped specific mention of limiting egg intake from the general heart health guidelines.
  3. We seem to be ignoring the message.  Egg consumption has dropped significantly since 1950, from around 380 per person per year to under 250.

Eggs are our most significant source of choline.  One egg has about 120 mg.  Doing the math, we get these estimates:

  • 120 mg X 380 eggs/day in 1950 = 125 mg/day average choline intake from eggs
  • 120 mg X 248 eggs/day in 2008 =  81 mg/day average choline intake from eggs

The recommended Adequate Intake of choline is

mg/day choline
550     men
425     women
450     pregnant women
550     breastfeeding women

Clearly, decreased egg consumption impacts choline intake.  Current estimates of our actual daily choline intake is about 300 mg/day, and 338 for pregnant women, both far below recommendations.

Inadequate intake by pregnant and breast feeding women could be detrimental to her infant .  Choline is critical to development of the central nervous system.  Studies show that choline-deficient diets for pregnant rodents result in neural defects in the offspring.  The human placenta has 50 times as much choline as maternal blood.  Human breast milk is also very high in choline, much higher than soy milk and cow’s milk.  The form of choline is also more available to humans that the choline present in cow’s milk.  Consequently, breast fed infants have twice the blood choline level of formula-fed infants.

So where can you get more choline?  In general, animal-sourced foods are the highest sources.

food                       mg/choline
egg                           120
beef, 3 oz                    110
salmon, 3 oz                  100
chicken, 3 oz                  70
kidney beans 1 c               60
broccoli, 1 c                  60
milk, 1 c                      45

Choline is concentrated in the egg yolk.  People who avoid eggs entirely, or are vegan or vegetarian, are more likely to have inadequate intakes.  All those egg white omelets people are fond of lately aren’t contributing much to choline intake.

There is no research comparing pregnant women’s choline intake with neurological development of their children.  No one would ever do research that deliberately deprived women of choline to test an effect on a child.  But where nutrition is concerned, why not make sure you’re eating the healthiest possible diet?  It’s a very good idea to eat some foods high in choline every day, especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.  Eggs could be one of your choices.

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