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

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Dec;106(6):1482-1489. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.117.160515. Epub 2017 Nov 1.


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), α-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. This trial was registered at as NCT02446873.

Keywords: betaine; children; choline; docosahexaenoic acid; egg nutrition; vitamin B-12.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Betaine / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Height
  • Choline / blood*
  • Diet*
  • Dimethylamines / blood
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood*
  • Ecuador / epidemiology
  • Eggs*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / blood
  • Growth Disorders / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Male
  • Methionine / blood
  • Methylamines
  • Methylation
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Population Groups
  • Rural Population
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers
  • Dimethylamines
  • Methylamines
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Betaine
  • Methionine
  • dimethylamine
  • trimethyloxamine
  • Choline
  • Vitamin B 12

Associated data