Choline and Fertility

Choline and Fertility

Did you know that choline is one of the most important supplements for your fertility? If you didn’t (or if you’re wondering, “What is choline?”), you’re not alone. Choline isn’t widely included in multivitamins, and researchers have only recently begun to realize its importance as an essential nutrient for your health and fertility.

What Is Choline?

Choline plays a crucial role in many of your body’s vital functions. It helps your liver remove fat from your body and helps your brain, muscles, and nerves work correctly. Additionally, choline helps protect you from having a heart attack or stroke by lowering the amount of the amino acid homocysteine in your blood.

Your body also uses choline when it develops and repairs cell membranes. Yet, despite the role choline plays in your overall health, only 10% of Americans consume enough choline, and the numbers are even lower for pregnant women. 

Choline’s Vital Role in Fertility

Choline affects so many of your body’s functions and, in turn, directly affects your fertility. Because choline is essential for cell membrane development and repair, you need to consume an adequate amount of choline in order for your sperm or eggs to be healthy. 

There’s some evidence that consuming higher amounts of choline may improve ovarian function and increase your number of antral follicles. That’s especially important if you’re planning to freeze your eggs or try in vitro fertilization. Having higher levels of choline helps improve sperm motility, too.

Choline also plays a part in regulating your hormones, which is fundamental to fertility. In fact, hormonal imbalances are behind many of the most common conditions responsible for infertility, such as inadequate sperm production and polycystic ovarian syndrome

Choline May Help Prevent Pregnancy Complications

Choline may help prevent pregnancy complications by helping your placenta grow properly and develop the necessary blood vessels. That’s crucial because if your placenta doesn’t have an adequate blood supply, you may experience complications like intrauterine growth restriction and preeclampsia, high blood pressure that can cause other serious complications for both you and your baby.

Choline also helps your placenta function properly, essential for transporting nutrients to your baby, and it has anti-inflammatory effects. If you don’t get enough choline during pregnancy, your body will pull choline from you to help supply adequate nutrition to your baby that, in turn, puts you at risk for pregnancy complications.

Choline Is Important For Your Baby’s Development

Researchers have recently learned that choline is just as important as folic acid for your baby’s development. Choline helps your baby grow properly and prevent the development of neural tube disorders, like spina bifida. It also reduces the risk that your baby will have stress-related diseases, like hypertension, diabetes, and depression later in life.

Further, research has shown that when mothers get enough choline, their babies score better on tests for memory, attention, vision, self-regulation, and information processing speed. 

Because many prenatal vitamins and fertility supplements don’t contain choline, it’s imperative that you check whether your prenatal vitamins include choline, and ask your doctor whether you should take a supplement. 

Getting the Right Amount of Choline

Choline is a necessary nutrient at all life stages, so you should always try to meet the recommended daily intake amounts. That number changes, depending on your age, sex, and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

In general, men should aim for 550 mg of choline every day, while women of reproductive age need 425 mg of choline per day. 

During pregnancy, your daily choline intake should increase to 450 mg to support your baby’s development and the growth of your placenta. Once your baby is born, your body requires even more choline, 550 mg each day, to meet the demands of breastfeeding. 

Increasing Your Choline Intake

Choline is found in many foods, but it can be difficult to meet your daily choline needs through diet alone. That’s especially the case because many foods high in choline, like “organ” meats and beef, are also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Fortunately, there are healthier options that still contain a moderate amount of choline, including:

  • Atlantic cod
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Red potatoes, with skin
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Wheat germ
  • Beans
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa

Still, since most people don’t consume enough choline through foods, you may need to take a choline supplement in order to meet your recommended daily intake. Talk to your doctor about your diet and how much choline you should take every day. 

At Halo Fertility, we know that every patient has unique fertility needs, and we’ll spend time talking to you about your diet and other lifestyle factors during your initial fertility assessment. We’ll provide you with individualized recommendations to help you meet your choline and other nutritional needs as part of your customized treatment plan. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment at Halo Fertility.

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