Dr. Ron’s Research Review – February 28, 2013

© 2013

This week’s research review focuses on eggs during pregnancy.

Eggs, commonly available and low in cost, contain nutrients that may be of benefit during pregnancy as well as during weaning. Key nutrients include vitamin D, folate, iodine, selenium and long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids).

During pregnancy, there is an increased requirement for nutrients including protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate and vitamin D. There is also emerging evidence that adequate intakes of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, referred to as omega-3 fatty acids in this article, are important during pregnancy to safeguard cognitive, retinal and immune development in the infant.

Notable differences were found in eggs analyzed in 1989 and 2011. These included lower energy, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol contents, and higher vitamin D and selenium contents. The differences reflect a combination of changes to hen feeding practices, with a shift from meat and bone meal to feeds based on sunflower, wheat and soya; use of feed enzymes to improve nutrient absorption; changes in average egg sizes, with a smaller yolk and more white in 2011; and an increase in average shell weight, from 11% in 1989. The lower energy content per edible portion equates to a reduction from 78kcal to 66kcal for a standard medium-size egg.

Weight management during pregnancy may involve cutting down on high-fat, energy-dense foods and switching to lower fat, high-protein foods such as eggs. One eight-week study reported a significantly greater weight loss when participants consumed egg-based breakfasts versus cereal-based breakfasts, which was probably relate to the protein content of eggs or the specific amino acid profile. (Ruxton 2013)

Dr. Ron


Articles

Value of eggs during pregnancy and early childhood

         (Ruxton 2013) Download

The maternal diet is believed to influence infant health, as does diet in early life following the introduction of solid foods. Eggs, commonly available and low in cost, contain nutrients that may be of benefit during pregnancy as well as during weaning. Key nutrients include vitamin D, folate, iodine, selenium and long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids). Data from a recent nutritional analysis of eggs are presented and put in context with dietary reference values for the UK. The safety aspects of eggs, including food safety and allergy, are also discussed.

Reference

Ruxton, C. (2013). "Value of eggs during pregnancy and early childhood." Nurs Stand 27(24): 41-50; quiz 51. [PMID: 23505895]