Hide this
Meat and Eggs

Story at-a-glance +

  • Consumption of higher levels of choline during pregnancy (about double the recommended pregnancy intake) is linked to beneficial epigenetic changes in the fetus that likely last into adulthood
  • Higher choline intake decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the fetus, which may offer protection against stress-related conditions, including mental health disorders, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Eggs and meat are two of the best dietary sources of choline; if you’re a vegan or vegetarian who does not consume any animal foods, you may be at risk of deficiency
 

Choline In Eggs And Meat May Influence Gene Expression From Infancy To Adulthood

October 08, 2012 | 96,514 views
Share This Article Share

By Dr. Mercola

Folic acid is perhaps the most well known B vitamin, and is especially important for pregnant women to avoid certain birth defects.

Now researchers have highlighted the importance of another member of the B vitamin complex – choline – which they say may one day be recommended for all pregnant women, the way folic acid is today.

What is Choline?

Choline is an essential nutrient your body makes in small amounts, however you must consume it through your diet to get enough. In adults, choline helps keep your cell membranes functioning properly, plays a role in nerve communications, prevents the buildup of homocysteine in your blood (elevated levels are linked to heart disease) and reduces chronic inflammation.

In pregnant women, choline plays an equally, if not more, important role, helping to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida, and playing a role in brain development.

Prior research has concluded that choline intake during pregnancy "super-charged" the brain activity of animals in utero, indicating that it may boost cognitive function, improve learning and memory, and even diminish age-related memory decline and the brain's vulnerability to toxins during childhood, as well as conferring protection later in life.1

It's recommended that pregnant women consume 450 milligrams of choline a day, but the new study found this may not be enough…

Double the Recommended Amount of Choline During Pregnancy Protects Baby from Stress, Metabolic Disorders and More

The new research, published in The FASEB Journal,2 found the consumption of 930 mg of choline in the third trimester of pregnancy was linked to a 33 percent lower concentration of the stress hormone cortisol, compared to those who consumed 430 mg a day.

It's known that babies exposed to high levels of cortisol in utero, such as might occur if a woman is under extreme stress, facing anxiety or suffering from depression, have an increased risk of stress-related and metabolic disorders. The researchers believe the beneficial impact of choline on lowering cortisol may protect the baby later in life from mental health conditions, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, the higher choline intake led to changes in epigenetic markers in the fetus. Specifically, it affected markers that regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls hormone production and activity. The higher intake of choline contributed to a more stable HPA axis, which in turn meant lower cortisol levels in the fetus. The changes in fetal genetic expression will likely continue into adulthood, where they play a role in disease prevention.

Epigenetic Changes May Last for Generations

One of the most intriguing aspects of epigenetics is that these changes are often passed down through generations. This was first shown by the research of Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., M.D., who conducted studies on cats in the 1930s. He found that cats fed a healthy, raw-food diet thrived, while those fed on a primarily cooked-meat diet developed degenerative diseases – and those changes continued on through three generations.

Each generation of "junk-food" cats got progressively sicker, until they could no longer reproduce and eventually died off completely by the fourth generation.

Just this year, a study on rats showed those exposed to chemicals or foods that raise estrogen levels during pregnancy produce daughters that have a higher than normal risk for breast cancer – and that risk is passed on to the next two generations.3 It was not genetic mutations that were passed on, but rather epigenetic alterations that modulate the expression of your genes, similar to what was found in the FASEB Journal study.

You Have the Ability to Change Inherited Epigenetic Alterations

The good news about all of this is that even if you inherited a certain increased disease risk from your mother or grandmother (or you think you passed one on to your child), it is not set in stone. As you age, your genome does not change but your epigenome changes dramatically, especially during critical periods of life, such as adolescence. It is influenced by physical and emotional stresses, and lifestyle factors, which, depending on their effects, may either optimize your genetic expression for health or make it favor disease development.

There are literally new epigenetic discoveries being made every day, and it's becoming quite clear that eating healthy foods is one of the most powerful steps you can take to optimize your genetic expression.

Certain foods, such as broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, garlic, and onions contain substances that activate tumor suppressor genes and deactivate cancer-associated genes (oncogenes). And now we see that choline appears to influence cortisol production in utero. Your best bet is to take advantage of the many epigenetic influencers in your diet by eating a wide variety of whole foods…

For additional tips, I suggest you read through my comprehensive and recently revised nutrition plan, which will give tools for eating healthy, dealing with stress, and living a lifestyle that will support your epigenetic health.

What are the Best Dietary Sources of Choline?

If you're currently pregnant, it seems prudent to make sure your diet contains plenty of choline-rich foods, as this will be your primary source of this essential nutrient (most prenatal vitamins do not contain choline). Unfortunately for many vegetarians, animal foods like eggs and meat are some of the best sources of choline, so if you're a vegan or vegetarian who does not consume any animal foods, you may be at risk of deficiency.

The following chart shows some of the best choline sources to help you choose your foods wisely:4

Food Serving Total Choline (mg)
Beef liver, pan fried 3 ounces 355
Wheat germ, toasted 1 cup 172
Egg 1 large 126
Beef, trim cut, cooked 3 ounces 67
Brussel sprouts, cooked 1 cup 63
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup, chopped 62
Salmon 3 ounces 56
Milk, skim 8 fl oz. 38
Peanut butter, smooth 2 tablespoons 20

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.


Donate Today!

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back.  That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.


Donate Today!

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.

Food Democracy Now
Mercury Free Dentistry
Fluoride Action Network
National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico