Choline Supplements During Pregnancy May Prevent Schizophrenia



Research shows that the use of choline supplements during pregnancy may prevent schizophrenia.  Specifically, lower rates of physiological schizophrenic risk factors in infants 33 days old has been noted when the dietary supplement is given during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and early infancy.

Robert Freedman, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine and one of the study's authors states: "Basic research indicates that choline supplementation during pregnancy facilitates cognitive functioning in offspring. Our finding that it ameliorates some of the pathophysiology associated with risk for schizophrenia now requires longer-term follow-up to assess whether it decreases risk for the later development of illness as well."

Choline is a water-soluble essential nutrient, typically grouped within the B-complex vitamins. It can be found naturally in foods such as liver, muscle meats, fish, nuts and eggs.  According to the American Institute of Medicine, pregnant women require between 450 and 3500 milligrams of choline each day and 550 to 3500 milligrams while lactating.  Infants aged 0-6 months need a minimum daily dose of 125 milligrams of choline and 150 milligrams from 7-12 months of age.

“Choline is also being studied for potential benefits in liver disease, including chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, depression, memory loss, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and certain types of seizures.”

To test their theory, researchers observed infant responses to a clicking sound.  Typically, the brain responds fully to an initial click, however the response to a second click immediately following the first is inhibited.  This trait is often absent among schizophrenia patients and relates to poor sensory filtering and familial transmission of schizophrenia risk.  Researchers observed this effect among infants to represent the illness as schizophrenia does not normally appear until adolescence.

“Half the healthy pregnant women in this study took 3,600 milligrams of phosphatidylcholine each morning and 2,700 milligrams each evening; the other half took placebo. After delivery, their infants received 100 milligrams of phosphatidylcholine per day or placebo. Eighty-six percent of infants exposed to pre- and postnatal choline supplementation, compared to 43% of unexposed infants, inhibited the response to repeated sounds, as measured with EEG sensors placed on the baby's head during sleep.”

These results could not only assist in early detection of schizophrenia, but may even help in preventing the illness or developing more effective treatments.

Some examples of choline found in different food sources:

Type of Food
mg of choline
5 ounces (142 g) raw beef liver
473
Large hardboiled egg
113
Half a pound (227 g) cod fish
190
Half a pound of chicken
150
Quart of milk, 1% fat
173
A gram soy lecithin
30
100 grams of Soybeans dry
116
A pound (454 grams) of cauliflower
177
A pound of spinach
113
A cup of wheat germ
202
Two cups (0.47 liters) firm tofu
142
Two cups of cooked kidney beans
108
A cup of uncooked quinoa
119
A cup of uncooked amaranth
135
A grapefruit
19
Three cups (710 cc) cooked brown rice
54
A cup (146 g) of peanuts
77
A cup (143 g) of almonds
74

Choline Supplementation DuringPregnancy Presents a New Approach to Schizophrenia Prevention
Choline

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