"What essential nutrients develop my babies brain?" As parents we want our children to have every opportunity to succeed in life, which is why brain development is so important.
Choline, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A, Folate and Omega-3 are especially important during pregnancy. Your babies brain development depends on these nutrients and choline plays an especially critical role.
Studies prove that the amount of choline consumed prenatally and during lactation affects a child's brain function and memory for a lifetime. Choline is also responsible for development of the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that regulates emotion, langauge development and memory. Children diagnosed with Autism show an abnormal hippocampus through MRI imaging.
Dr. Zeisel, a researcher at UNC has devoted his career to understanding choline and says, "if it's not there at the right time, in the right amounts, the brain doesn't develop correctly."
The best daily combination for a healthy baby is to take your prenatal, choline, Omega-3 -- and an iron supplement if directed by a midwife or doctor. Other nutrients for brain development including a protein-rich diet, magnesium and iodine. Probiotics are also important during pregnancy as research is consistently linking healthy gut bacteria to overall infant health.
The American Medical Association put out a warning in 2017 for all doctors to advise their patients about the importance of choline for baby brain development. Not receiving the right amount of choline can harm a child's brain development, focus, memory and overall learning capability throughout life.
It's never too late to supplement with choline though. Though pregnancy and the first 3 years of life are especially important for brain development, and lay a foundation for lifelong success, choline, as an essential nutrient, is always needed for our brains to work properly.
If you have trouble with focus, memory or learning you are most likely choline deficient. Without choline our brains are unable to form new synpases, and our neurons are not able to communicate effectively. One study of children with ADHD showed that the children with ADHD had 50% less choline in their blood than their peers who did not suffer from hyperactivity.
Everyone over the age of 4 should be consuming at least 550mg of choline a day. Babies should have around 200mg of choline a day. A breastfed baby can receive around 400mg through a mother that is breastfeeding and supplementing with choline or eating a high choline diet of beef liver and eggs.
Human milk is one of the best sources of choline. The more choline you consume, the more is available within your breastmilk. Formulas have recently begun to add choline to mimic the brain boosting effects of breastmilk. If feeding your baby formula, please check that the brand that you use has been "humanized" with choline.