During pregnancy and breastfeeding a woman’s nutritional requirements for kilojoules and key nutrients increase. Adequate nutrition and food safety during pregnancy is essential to optimise the health of the mother and the baby.
Eggs provide many of the essential nutrients required for optimal health during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In particular, eggs provide useful amounts of protein, iron, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin A and omega-3 fats and are a particularly good source of folate.
Eggs are also one of only a few food sources of choline and provide more choline per kilojoule than most other foods. Choline is crucial to human health – playing a critical role in the development of the brain, especially the memory centre.
Studies show that during pregnancy and lactation, maternal reserves of choline are depleted. 4
Lack of choline in a mother’s diet during pregnancy and lactation can have life-long effects on their child. Experts recommend that pregnant and lactating women increase their egg intake to ensure optimal dietary choline intake.
One serve of eggs provides 581 kilojoules; this is 31-42% of the additional kilojoule requirement during pregnancy and 28-29% during lactation. Eggs also provide over 200% of the additional vitamin and mineral requirements during pregnancy.
It is important pregnant women follow food safety recommendations to avoid any risk. Raw and undercooked eggs (e.g. eggnogs, smoothies and home made mayonnaise) should not be consumed when pregnant as the risk is increased for potential exposure to food borne illnesses including listeria and other bacterias which can cause medical complications.
Current NZ advice is that during pregnancy one should not eat food containing raw egg, e.g., smoothies, mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce or desserts such as mousse, and that cooked eggs( e.g. poached, fried) should be well cooked. More information is available at the Ministry for Primary Industries NZ Food Safety information page: www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-safety-for-consumers/food-and-pregnancy/list-of-safe-food-in-pregnancy/
4 Zeisel SH. Choline: Needed for normal development of memory. J Am Coll Nutr 2000; 19:528S-531S