One egg or two? For better memory and focus have an omelette.

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Nutritional research continues to uncover some fascinating clues as to why certain foods can help our brains to function better.

Eggs are great sources of lean protein and they also contain extremely valuable micronutrients of particular value to our eyes and brain. New research has shown that choline, a substance found in eggs, soy, wheat germ, chicken and beef liver is directly involved in the process of our attention and long-term memory and in addition helps to modulate these processes as well.

The scientists undertook two experiments.

The first was to examine the effect of choline on the memory processes of unborn rat offspring. Pregnant rats were either fed a choline enriched diet, a choline deficient diet or a standard diet. The offspring, once mature then underwent tests of memory retention and those whose mothers had had the choline enriched food did better.

In the second experiment one group of adults rats were fed a choline enriched diet and one had no choline intake. After 12 weeks those rats which had received the choline enriched diet were shown to have superior attention skills.

So what does this mean for us as humans?

This information builds on previous information gleaned from previous research. Studies from Stanford in 2010 revealed that low choline levels in pregnant women increased the risk of brain and spinal cord defects in the newborn.

Choline supplements have also been shown in humans to assist in lowering cortisol regulating genes by an epigenetic effect, which leads to lower lifetime risk of stress related illness. This is important because it is known that the stress levels experienced by women in pregnancy has an effect on their child's resilience to stress over their lives.

Other research published in early 2013 found that choline supplementation in pregnancy lowers an infant's risk of developing schizophrenic type illness.

It appears that choline, has a number of benefits in diminishing the risks associated with developing a number of chronic medical conditions ranging from liver disease, depression and memory loss, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia and certain types of seizures.

Meanwhile I'd say it's time to get cracking and ensure you are including eggs or other sources of choline in your diet on a regular basis. Your brain will doubtless thank you for it.

Refs:

University of Granada (2013, July 11). Vitamin B: Choline intake improves memory and attention-holding capacity http://canal.ugr.es/health-science-and-technology/item/66600

Stanford University School of Medicine (2009, August 17). Low Choline Levels In Pregnant Women Raise Babies' Risk For Brain And Spinal-cord Defects, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 14, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/08/090816220424.htm

X. Jiang, J. Yan, A. A. West, C. A. Perry, O. V. Malysheva, S. Devapatla, E. Pressman, F. Vermeylen, M. A. Caudill. Maternal choline intake alters the epigenetic state of fetal cortisol-regulating genes in humans. The FASEB Journal, 2012; 26 (8): 3563 DOI: 10.1096/fj.12-207894

Randal G. Ross et al. Perinatal Choline Effects on Neonatal Pathophysiology Related to Later Schizophrenia Risk. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2013; DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.12070940