“While prior Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees have typically been broad analyses of adults, special attention was given in this report to the dietary intakes and specific needs of infants, toddlers, and women who are pregnant or lactating, thus covering the full lifespan,” Tom Druke, marketing director of human nutrition and health at Balchem, said. “This is significant because those three categories of people are most in need of choline, which explains why that essential nutrient received significant attention throughout.”
Choline was identified by the committee as an under-consumed nutrient among several age groups and special populations including pregnant and lactating women. Specifically, the committee took issue with prenatal vitamins lacking in choline.
“As the body of research continues to grow, particularly the critical role it plays in fetal brain development and cognitive function in infants and toddlers, having this comprehensive report identify choline as ‘under-consumed’ by this exact population constitutes a call to action,” Druke said.
The most recent Dietary Reference Intake was determined when choline was officially recognized as an essential nutrient in 1998 by the Institute of Medicine to be 450 mg for pregnant women and 550 mg for adults in general. However, choline’s availability on the market fails to match this recommendation – Balchem reports that a study in 2016 showed that only eight of the top 25 prenatal vitamins contained choline, and none provided more than 55 mg per dose, which is just 12% of the DRI for pregnant women.
Balchem reports that prenatal vitamin manufacturers are allowed to reach an ‘excellent source’ choline content claim if they meet at least 110 mg of choline in a given formulation. Additional structure-function claims reviewed by the FDA for choline include those specific to its role in prenatal nutrition, which are that “prenatal use of choline may lead to lifelong improvement of visuospatial memory in children born of the pregnancy,” and “supplementation with choline during infancy and childhood may lead to improved lifelong memory.”