Never Heard of Choline? Here’s What You’re Missing

Never Heard of Choline? Here's What You're Missing

Here at Alkaline for Life, we identify and explain the importance of key nutrients for our health. One nutrient that has flown under the radar for far too long is choline. Never heard of choline? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Considering 90% of Americans are deficient, it seems that many people are unaware of this vital nutrient. (1)

Keep reading to find out why we need to start talking about choline.

What is choline?

Choline is classified as an essential nutrient that is crucial for numerous physiological processes in the body, including neurotransmitter synthesis, cell-membrane structure and signaling, lipid transport, and methylation. (2)

The main functions of choline

Choline’s key roles in so many significant bodily functions make it just that important. In fact, it can impact our brain, heart, bones, liver, and muscles.

Choline brain health

Choline and brain health

In terms of our brains:

  • Choline is necessary to produce the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which impacts memory, mood, muscle control, and numerous other brain and nervous system processes. (3)
  • Choline may reduce risk and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (4, 5)
  • Choline directly influences brain development before and after birth. (6)
  • Choline protects against abnormal neurodevelopment and behavioral problems, and generally improves outcomes caused by fetal alcohol disorders. (7
Choline heart health

Choline and heart health

Choline is also very important for our hearts:

  • Choline deficiency leads to high homocysteine levels in the body, therefore, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. (2)
Choline bone health

Choline and bone health

Our bones are impacted by choline as well:

  • High homocysteine levels are associated with decreased bone mineral density and increased bone fragility. (8)
  • Choline deficiency is associated with other inflammatory markers that can damage bone. (9)
Choline liver health

Choline and liver health

The liver is yet another vital organ that can be drastically affected by a choline deficiency:

  • Without choline, the body is unable to metabolize fat correctly. If fats are not adequately metabolized, they can accumulate in the liver. (10)
  • Fat accumulation can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver damage. (3)
Choline muscle function

Choline and muscle function

Choline impacts muscle function:

  • Choline helps to form acetylcholine, which activates skeletal muscle. (11)

Other functions of choline

The other functions of choline include:

  • Improving athletic endurance and performance. (12)
  • Aiding in proper fetal development. (11)
  • Reducing the risk of negative birth outcomes. (11)
  • Enhancing magnesium uptake into the cells.

Overall, choline impacts cell structure and signaling. All plant and animal cells require choline to maintain their structure (3) and, therefore, their signaling, transport, and repair. (6)

Choline deficiency

Unfortunately, most of us are not getting enough of this key nutrient. About 90% of Americans are deficient in choline, meaning they are not meeting the adequate intake (AI) of 550 mg/day for men and 425 mg/day for non-pregnant or non-lactating females. (1, 3)

Similar deficiencies are seen all over the world including in New Zealand (13), Taiwan (14), Australia, and various European countries. (15)

Food sources of choline

While our livers can produce choline, the liver cannot make enough for all the processes in the body. This means that we must get choline from our diet. If you’re looking to get more choline in your diet, try adding some of these top food sources of choline to your meals: (3)

Food Type

Food Name

Serving

Mg of Choline

Meat/Poultry

Pan-fried beef liver

3 oz

356

 

Boiled ground beef 93% lean

3 oz

112

 

Roasted chicken breast

3 oz

72

Eggs

Hard-boiled egg

1 large

147

Fish

Cooked Atlantic cod

3 oz

71

Beans/Legumes

Roasted soybeans

½ cup

45

 

Canned kidney beans

½ cup

45

Grains

Cooked quinoa

1 cup

43

Dairy

1% milk

1 cup

43

 

Nonfat vanilla yogurt

1 cup

38

Vegetables

Boiled Brussel sprouts

½ cup

32

 

Boiled broccoli

½ cup

31

 

Cooked shiitake mushrooms

½ cup

22

 

Because choline is mostly found in meat, dairy, and eggs, vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk of choline deficiency.

Alkaline for Life choline recommendations

At Alkaline for Life, we always recommend pure choline citrate instead of choline bitartrate, which can contain irritating antigens, such as cornstarch. The optimum level of choline citrate is between 650 and 1300 mg/day, which is about 1 to 2 teaspoons of our liquid choline citrate.

If you are using choline citrate to combat a loose stool from magnesium, take 1 teaspoon of liquid choline citrate with magnesium per day. You can listen to a brief video of Dr. Brown explaining how to take choline citrate here.

If you’d like to know more about magnesium uptake, read our blog, Enhance Your Magnesium Uptake and More with Choline Citrate.

With so many important roles in the body, including its capacity to affect brain, heart, and liver health, it’s surprising that there isn’t a greater discussion occurring on the significance of choline. Now is the time to elevate your awareness about and intake of choline!

 

 

 

References:

  1. Wallace, T. C. and V. L. Fulgoni, III. 2016. Assessment of total choline intakes in the United States. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 35(2):108-112.
  2. Zeisel, S. H. and K. A. da Costa. 2009. Choline: An essential nutrient for public health. Nutrition Reviews 67(11):615-623.
  3. NIH (National Institutes of Health). 2021. Choline: Fact sheet for health professionals. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements website. Accessed May 2022.
  4. Velazquez, R., et al. 2019. Lifelong choline supplementation ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease pathology and associated cognitive deficits by attenuating microglia activation. Aging Cell 18(6):e13037.
  5. Fang, C., et al. 2020. Cognition deficits in Parkinson’s disease: Mechanisms and treatment. Parkinson’s Disease 2020:2076942.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 website. Accessed May 2022.
  8. Fratoni, V. and M. L. Brandi. 2015. B vitamins, homocysteine and bone health. Nutrients 7(4):2176-2192.
  9. Detopoulou, P., et al. 2008. Dietary choline and betaine intakes in relation to concentrations of inflammatory markers in healthy adults: The ATTICA study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 87(2):424-430.
  10. Wiedeman, A. M., et al. 2018. Dietary choline intake: Current state of knowledge across the life cycle. Nutrients 10(10):1513.
  11. Korsmo, H. W., et al. 2019. Choline: Exploring the growing science on its benefits for moms and babies. Nutrients 11(8):1823.
  12. Conlay, L. A., et al. 1992. Exercise and neuromodulators: Choline and acetylcholine in marathon runners. International Journal of Sports Medicine 13(Suppl 1):S141-S142.
  13. Mygind, V. L., et al. 2013. Estimation of usual intake and food sources of choline and betaine in New Zealand reproductive age women. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 22(2):319-324.
  14. Chu, D. M., et al. 2012. Choline and betaine food sources and intakes in Taiwanese. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 21(4):547-557.
  15. Vennemann, F. B. C., et al. 2015. Dietary intake and food sources of choline in European populations. British Journal of Nutrition 114(12):2046-2055.

 

 

 


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