According to a study, the important nutrient choline "super-charged the brain activity of animals in utero, which resulted in the creation of larger cells that were quicker at firing electrical "signals" that release memory-forming chemicals.
These significant changes in the brain could be used to explain how choline improved learning and memory in animals in earlier behavioral studies. Researchers said this data could mean boosting cognitive function, diminishing age-related memory decline and decreasing the brain’s vulnerability to toxic insults in children.
This research has led to the decision to raise choline to the status of an essential nutrient, particularly for pregnant and nursing women.
Choline can be found as a naturally occurring nutrient in egg yolks, milk, nuts, fish, liver and human breast milk.
In a study, the effects of choline on neurons in the hippocampus were studied using pregnant rats that were given extra amounts of choline during a short, yet critical time of their pregnancy.
From the study, experts concluded that the choline-induced rats were more excitable and stronger in their physiologic reactions.
Experts also found that two hippocampal proteins, MAPK and CREB, which are known contributors to enhancing learning and memory, were activated in higher amounts in the animals prenatally given the choline supplement.
Journal of Neurophysiology April 2004;91(4):1545-55 (Free Full Text Article)
The implications of the study’s findings are potentially huge. If this turns out to be true in humans and has the potential to make people smarter their entire lives and forestall age-related memory decline--that’s potentially an extremely exciting prospect.
One of the simple things pregnant women can do to increase their choline intake is to start eating raw eggs. Eggs are very high in choline and when eaten in the raw state the nutrients are less damaged and the risk of salmonella in healthy eggs is very low.
As a matter of fact, you would have a better chance at winning the lottery than catching salmonella from a healthy chicken.
Please also remember that omega-3 fat, especially from krill oil, is another very powerful food nearly every single pregnant woman needs to be taking.
Not only will this dramatically reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication, but it will also virtually eliminate the risk of premature delivery. Also, like choline, it will also dramatically increase the intelligence of your child.Vitamin D: Also Crucial for Baby’s Brain
Along with choline and omega-3 fat, there is another important factor that plays a role in protecting and enhancing children’s brains: vitamin D.
The National Institutes of Mental Health has, in fact, concluded that it is vital that the mother get enough vitamin D while pregnant in order for the baby’s brain to develop properly. The child must also get enough vitamin D after birth for “normal” brain functioning.
There is also a link between rampant vitamin D deficiency and the proportionate jump in autism, as highlighted by Dr John Cannell. The vitamin D receptor appears in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain.
It is my personal belief that this may be the single largest contributing factor to autism and that a deficiency of sun exposure to the pregnant mom, and subsequently to the fetus, results in a massively increased risk of developing autism.
So one of THE MOST IMPORTANT changes that could radically reduce autism is to make certain ALL pregnant women have their vitamin D levels normalized to 50-60 ng/ml. Even if it had no impact on autism (unlikely) this will massively increase the health of the mom and virtually eliminate the risk of type 1 diabetes in the infant.
To find out everything you need to know about the importance of vitamin D, including the best source, please watch my one-hour lecture on the topic.