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September 14, 2009

Choline: Multivitamins Don’t Have Enough

Filed under: General Information, Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 10:39 am

Do you know what choline is? Most people do not, including women who may be pregnant, will become pregnant, or are nursing a child.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, choline happens to be very important during pregnancy and nursing, and women in this vulnerable population are coming up short for choline: only 14% of pregnant American women get enough choline in their diets.

Here’s why choline is critical. Choline helps to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) that form very early in pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant. During pregnancy, choline fosters brain development. Because choline is part of all cells, it is necessary to support growth during pregnancy and infancy; nursing mothers need more choline than pregnant women.

Mom and dad require choline, too. Choline helps to head off heart disease and breast cancer, and it’s necessary for muscle and liver health.

Prescription and over-the-counter prenatal pills, and multivitamins, do not contain enough choline to meet your needs.  Nonpregnant women require 425 milligrams of choline daily; pregnant women need 450 milligrams; and nursing women, and men over the age of 13 should consume 550 milligrams of choline every day.

The great thing about choline is that it’s found in a wide variety of foods you probably have in your kitchen right now. Foods rich in protein, including eggs, pork, beef, and salmon, have the most choline. Plant foods provide less, but it is possible to get enough choline from a vegetarian eating plan that is careful to include an array of foods.

Meet your choline needs by including choline-rich foods every day as part of a balanced diet.  Here’s a chart of the choline content of some favorite foods, adapted from Expect the Best, to help:

• Egg, 1 large*, cooked any way: 125 milligrams

• Ground beef, 3 ounces, cooked : 83 milligrams

• Pork tenderloin, 3 ounces, cooked: 76 milligrams

• Salmon, 3 ounces, cooked: 65 milligrams

• Chicken, 3 ounces, cooked: 65 milligrams

• Navy beans or kidney beans, 1 cup, cooked: 45 milligrams

• Milk, 1% low fat, 1 cup: 45 milligrams

• Broccoli or cauliflower, 1 1/4 cups, cooked: 40 milligrams

* All of the choline is found in the egg yolk.

To learn more about choline, visit www.cholineinfo.org.

September 2, 2009

A Healthy Lifestyle Helps Prevents H1N1 Flu

Filed under: General Information — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 12:40 pm

Flu season is here, and this year we’re faced with the prospective of a double-whammy: the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu.  If you’re pregnant, and you catch the H1N1 flu, you are at a much greater risk for complications than if you were not expecting.  During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is working overtime to protect her body, and that of her growing child, so germs are more likely to get a foothold and wreak havoc.

To make matters worse, the H1N1 flu affects younger people disproportionately.  Since the H1N1 flu began circulating, the five to 24 year old age group has suffered the most cases of the flu, second only to 25 to 49 year-olds.

OK. Enough scary stuff. There are lots of ways to protect yourself against the spread of the flu virus.  Washing your hands often with warm water and soap or with an alcohol-based gel to prevent the spread of germs; staying away from sick people; and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your arm protects you, and others, from the virus, and other germs. When the vaccine becomes available, get immunized.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women should get the H1N1 vaccine because they run a greater risk of complications from the flu. Plus, as mothers, pregnant women can potentially provide protection to infants who cannot be vaccinated. Keep yourself informed about the government’s efforts and guidelines for the public for preventing and managing the H1N1 virus by visiting this link: www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/guidance/pregnant.htm.

A healthy lifestyle goes a long way to peak immune function, too.  Eating a healthy diet and taking a multivitamin, getting the rest you need, reducing the stress in your life, and getting regular exercise are among the behaviors linked to a stronger immune system.  Rest assured, you cannot catch the H1N1 virus, often referred as the swine flu, from eating pork or pork products, so there is no need to eliminate them from a balanced eating plan.

There is a lot of hysteria and anxiety surrounding the coming flu season, but it pays to stay calm and take all the precautions that you can, pregnant, nursing, or not.