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Eggs early in complementary feeding increase choline pathway biomarkers and DHA A randomized controlled trial in Ecuador

Background: Choline status has been associated with stunting among young children. Findings from this study showed that an egg intervention improved linear growth by a length-for-age z score of 0.63.

Objective: We aimed to test the efficacy of eggs introduced early in complementary feeding on plasma concentrations of biomarkers in choline pathways, vitamins B-12 and A, and essential fatty acids.

Design: A randomized controlled trial, the Lulun ("egg" in Kichwa) Project, was conducted in a rural indigenous population of Ecuador. Infants aged 6-9 mo were randomly assigned to treatment (1 egg/d for 6 mo; n = 80) and control (no intervention; n = 83) groups. Socioeconomic data, anthropometric measures, and blood samples were collected at baseline and endline. Household visits were made weekly for morbidity surveillance. We tested vitamin B-12 plasma concentrations by using chemiluminescent competitive immunoassay and plasma concentrations of choline, betaine, dimethylglycine, retinol, essential fatty acids, methionine, dimethylamine (DMA), trimethylamine, and trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) with the use of liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

Results: Socioeconomic factors and biomarker concentrations were comparable at baseline. Of infants, 11.4% were vitamin B-12 deficient and 31.7% marginally deficient at baseline. In adjusted generalized linear regression modeling, the egg intervention increased plasma concentrations compared with control by the following effect sizes: choline, 0.35 (95% CI: 0.12, 0.57); betaine, 0.29 (95% CI: 0.01, 0.58); methionine, 0.31 (95% CI: 0.03, 0.60); docosahexaenoic acid, 0.43 (95% CI: 0.13, 0.73); DMA, 0.37 (95% CI: 0.37, 0.69); and TMAO, 0.33 (95% CI: 0.08, 0.58). No significant group differences were found for vitamin B-12, retinol, linoleic acid (LA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), or ratios of betaine to choline and LA to ALA.

Conclusion: The findings supported our hypothesis that early introduction of eggs significantly improved choline and other markers in its methyl group metabolism pathway.


Iannotti, L. L., Lutter, C. K., Waters, W. F., Gallegos Riofrio, C. A., Malo, C., Reinhart, G., ... Stewart, C. P. (2017). Eggs early in complementary feeding increase choline pathway biomarkers and DHA: A randomized controlled trial in Ecuador. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 106(6), 1482-1489. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.117.160515

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