Choline for your brain should be on your brain. This underrated nutrient dramatically impacts brain development and function from before birth to old age. Here we will explore the important link between choline and cognitive function through the stages of life.
The First 1,000 Days
It is known that brain development within the first 1,000 days of existence, from conception to life after birth, sets the stage for future brain function. In fact, fetuses and newborns need high amounts of choline for normal development. Blood levels of choline in fetuses and newborns are 6 to 7 times higher than blood levels in adults! (1)
Adequate amounts of choline within the first 1,000 days have been shown to:
- Support normal brain development, especially from month 6 of pregnancy to ages 3-5 years after birth. (1)
- Protect the brain, including from fetal alcohol exposure. (2)
- Reduce birth defects such as neural tube defects. (3)
- Decrease the risk of negative birth outcomes. (4)
- Improve overall cognition, including faster information processing and better memory. (1)
Choline intake within these first 1,000 days may even be indicative of brain health and function throughout childhood, into adulthood, and even to old age! (5)
Childhood + Early Adulthood
Research shows that the benefits to the brain of sufficient choline — both prenatally and postnatally — last throughout life. (6)
Strikingly, even though 90% of people are deficient in choline and research has demonstrated its benefits on the brain and neurological function throughout life, very few studies have been done looking at choline and brain health during childhood and early adulthood.
Studies are done mostly on fetuses, infants, and older adults because presumably these are the ages when the brain is developing and when the effects of cognitive decline really begin to show.
We look forward to future studies on this subject!
Aging leads to decreased cognitive function, making choline that much more important in later adulthood. One of the more serious outcomes of cognitive decline is Alzheimer’s disease. This brings our attention to the very important neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, that tells our brain to store memories. In order to synthesize acetylcholine, choline is needed. Because acetylcholine availability decreases with age, it’s important to make sure you’re supplying your brain with enough choline to produce acetylcholine. (7)
Alzheimer’s disease is linked to acetylcholine. Specifically, low concentrations of acetylcholine have been found in those afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. (8)
Choline also plays a role in regulating the levels of homocysteine in our bodies. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are associated with high levels of homocysteine. Adequate choline intake may be able to lower these high levels of homocysteine. (9)
Currently, more than 6 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to increase to 13 million by the year 2050. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s or another dementia kills more seniors than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. (10)
Despite these scary statistics, there is hope in the form of choline!
The clinician who has developed the most effective clinical program for preventing and reversing cognitive decline, Dale Bredesen, MD, has detailed the importance of choline and cognitive functioning in his book, The End of Alzheimer’s Program.
Other researchers have shown that choline by itself can improve cognitive function in those with mild and moderate Alzheimer’s disease. (11)
Moreover, higher phosphatidylcholine intake may not only reduce the risk of dementia but improve cognitive performance overall. (12)
Protect Your Future
Fight off the burden of unhealthy aging and keep your mind sharp using alkalizing liquid choline citrate. The benefits of choline may even transcend generations! One miraculous study found that getting enough choline may even have positive effects on future generations to come! (7)
Protect both your future self and future generations to come with choline.
- Derbyshire, E., and R. Obeid. 2020. Choline, neurological development and brain function: A systematic review focusing on the first 1000 days. Nutrients 12(6):1731.
- NIH (National Institutes of Health). 2020. Choline supplements in young children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder have lasting cognitive benefits. NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Research Update. NIH website. Accessed April 2022.
- Digitale, E. 2009. Low choline levels in pregnant women raise babies’ risk for brain and spinal-cord defects, study shows. Stanford Medicine News Center. Website accessed April 2022.
- Korsmo, H. W., et al. 2019. Choline: Exploring the growing science on its benefits for moms and babies. Nutrients 11(8):1823.
- Wallace, T. C. 2018. A comprehensive review of eggs, choline, and lutein on cognition across the life-span. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 37(4):269-285.
- Strain, J. J., et al. 2013. Choline status and neurodevelopmental outcomes at 5 years of age in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study. British Journal of Nutrition 110(2):330-336.
- Druke, T. 2020. Research expands understanding of choline in cognitive health throughout life. Natural Products Insider Healthy Living website. Accessed April 2022.
- Jia, J. P., et al. 2004. Differential acetylcholine and choline concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Chinese Medical Journal 117(8):1161-1164.
- Smith, A. D., et al. 2018. Homocysteine and dementia: An international consensus statement. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 62(2):561-570.
- Alzheimer’s Association. 2022. Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s Association website. Accessed April 2022.
- Moreno Moreno, M. D. J. 2003. Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: A multicenter, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Clinical Therapeutics 25(1):178-193.
- Ylilauri, M. P. T., et al. 2019. Associations of dietary choline intake with risk of incident dementia and with cognitive performance: The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 110(6):1416-1423.