Building Healthy Brains: The Importance of Choline

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In the past our low-fat, count-every-last-calorie society held onto this fear that fat was going to pack on the pounds and clog their arteries (if you grew up in the late 70’s to early 80’s, you know what kind of dietary advice I’m talking about).

It couldn’t be further from the truth, and one of the most vital nutrients when you are planning to conceive are fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A. The only thing is that nowadays, it is becoming much harder to obtain true Vitamin A from our diets.

One of the most forward-thinkers in terms of the connection between essential fats, ancestral diets, and our health found that children who were raised according to their ancestors eating habits were of more robust health than children who were fed “modern-day” foods (like white bread, refined or processed goods).

Many of these diets were heavier in healthy fats than your Standard American Diet (SAD), and when the women were pregnant, they ate an inordinate amount of fat to help support their child in utero. Back then, this was considered more along the lines of ‘consciuos eating’ (which is a great practice in itself once you are at a certain point in your health journey).  

But now we have evidence that having a diet rich in fat-based nutrients, such as choline, supports neural and nerve development while we are within the womb and after through lactation.

It’s all about the brain.

Choline is a powerhouse of a nutrient that we can manufacture within, but if you are trying to conceive (or already have), getting it from dietary sources is crucial to support your new baby’s brain development.

Sources of Choline:

  • Grass-fed liver (desiccated is fine!)

  • Pastured/Free-range egg yolks (if you have egg sensitivities, you can try just the yolk after washing. But I would be cautious about it).

  • Cod liver oil.

  • Grass-fed butter

No, carrots aren’t actually the best source of Vitamin A.

Vitamin A has to be readily available to us (read: bio-available) in order for us to absorb all of the goodness it has to offer, such as:

  • Hormonal balance

  • Healthy fertility (an end result of good hormonal balance)

  • Strong immunity

  • A healthy thyroid

  • Supports neurological health and mood

Why aren’t all sources of Vitamin A readily available to us to digest?

The difference is the two forms of Vitamin A: betacarotene (plant source) and retinoids (animal source). Before we can utilize betacarotene from our plant-sources, our bodies must turn that into retinoids before being able to use it. If we have current health issues, such as hypothyroidism or diabetes, it will be difficult to be able to convert the betacarotene to true Vitamin A.

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Vitamin D...don’t you get that from milk?

Vitamin D requires, I will say that again, requires sunlight in order to be created. Yes, protecting our skin from prolonged exposure in the sun is necessary in order to avoid some serious damage. But in order to have healthy Vitamin D metabolism, we have to obtain sources through our diet, possess good digestion, and...you guessed it, being in the sun.

You can actually knock out both your Vitamin A and D requirements by consuming some of the same foods:

  • free-range/pastured egg yolks

  • Cod liver oil

  • Cold-water fish (mackerel, salmon, herring)

  • Grass-fed butter

If your digestion is off though (as with ‘leaky gut’), you will be out of luck. It’s great when we can get in these great nutrients, but if we cannot absorb them, they are little to no good to us.

If you feel your digestion hasn’t been the greatest, and are trying to prep your body for baby (or just looking out for your own cognitive function), please drop me a line or consider joining my Facebook group for women.

Amy GonzalezComment