June 5, 2019

The Importance of Eggs During Pregnancy

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

Pregnancy is such a special time for soon-to-be-mommas. I remember being pregnant with my daughter, who is now almost 16 years old, and being so excited about becoming a new mother. I wanted to do everything right for my baby and bought the giant pregnancy books available at the time and read them religiously. I remember early on being advised by my friend, who is a doctor, to start taking multi-vitamins specifically for pregnant women to ensure that I was getting enough B vitamins and other nutrients critical for my developing child. I was grateful for the advice and eager to learn anything I could to help me on my new adventure with my baby.

One thing that’s certainly changed since I was pregnant is the amount of information that’s readily available. Now, pregnant women can follow their baby’s stages from conception to birth via downloadable apps, and they have hundreds of websites and support groups at their fingertips. The website BabyCenter.com is a popular and trusted resource for pregnant women and new parents. So, when they released a list of the 10 best foods for pregnancy , I was very pleased to see that eggs had made the cut!

Within their list, which also includes other nutrition powerhouses such as leafy greens, salmon and Greek yogurt, they wrote the following about eggs:

Eggs are a great source of protein , a crucial part of your pregnancy diet. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of the cells in your body – and your baby's. Eggs also contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including choline . Choline helps your baby's brain and spinal cord develop properly, and helps prevent neural tube defects.

And to this I say, true and true! The choline connection recently made headlines when a 2018 study from Cornell University found that expectant mothers who consume sufficient choline during pregnancy may have babies with enhanced cognitive benefits, including a higher IQ. In the small study, 26 women were randomly divided into two groups and consumed the same diet, but half received 480 mg/day of choline, and the other half received 930 mg/day.

After birth, researchers tested infant information processing speed and memory at 4, 7, 10 and 13 months of age. Babies in both groups showed cognitive benefits from the choline, but information processing speeds were significantly faster for the group of expectant mothers who consumed 930 mg/day vs. 480 mg/day. The researchers concluded that “a prudent approach to increase dietary choline intake is by consuming more animal source foods during pregnancy – egg yolks, lean red meats, fish and poultry.” They added that consuming choline supplements may help too.

Additional research published in the journal Nutrients shows that it is extremely difficult for pregnant women to reach the adequate intake for choline without consuming eggs or taking a dietary supplement. Eggs for the win! There’s 294 mg choline in two eggs (and 12 g protein).

In addition to protein and choline, eggs contain the following nutrients, which are important during pregnancy:

- Iron: to ensure blood cells are formed and prevent anemia

- Vitamin D: for fetal skeletal growth

- Vitamin A: to support fetal growth and tissue maintenance

- Folate: to help prevent neural tube defects

- B-vitamins: to help with brain development, placental function and blood sugar metabolism

- Omega-3 fats: (in enriched eggs): for development of baby’s brain, eyes and nerves.

And there’s one more benefit to eggs during pregnancy. Including eggs in the diet may also help lower the risk of gestational diabetes. A 2019 study looked at egg intake among over 450 pregnant women and found that women who ate more than one egg per week had a 41 percent lower risk of gestational diabetes compared to those who ate fewer eggs. I ate at least two eggs a day while I was pregnant. Now the studies are in to prove that I was doing the right thing for both my kids and for me!

So, enjoy an omelette for brunch, a hard-boiled egg as a snack, and EGG Bakes ! as a dinner option. And if you’re pregnant and exhausted, don’t forget that eggs make a very quick meal idea!

Margaret Hudson

President, Burnbrae Farms