Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
Choline is an essential nutrient that most people do not supplement enough

Choline is a recently discovered nutrient.

It was recently recognized by the Institute of Medicine as an essential nutrient in 1998.

Although your body makes some, you need to have choline from your diet to avoid a deficiency. However, less than 10% of the US population supplements this nutrient .

Here's all you need to know about choline, including what it is and why you need it.

What is Choline?

Choline is an essential nutrient .

This means that it is necessary for normal human function and health. Although a small amount of this substance can be made from the liver, most need to be obtained from the diet.

Choline is a water-soluble organic compound. It is not classified as vitamins or minerals.

However, it is usually classified into a group of vitamin B combinations due to similar properties and functions. In fact, this nutrient affects some important body functions.

These include liver function, healthy brain development, muscle movement, nervous system and metabolism.

Therefore, it is necessary to supplement enough to have optimal health and reduce the risk of certain diseases .

Summary: Choline is an essential nutrient that must be in the diet to maintain optimal health.

Choline takes on many functions in the body

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
Choline participates in many different processes.

Choline plays an important role in many processes throughout the body.

They include the following main functions:

  • Cell structure: It is necessary for the creation of fats that support the complete structure of cell membranes .
  • Cell transmission: It is involved in the production of compounds that act as cellular transmitters.
  • Transporting and metabolizing fat: It plays an important role in creating a substance needed to transport cholesterol from the liver. Inadequate choline can lead to fat and cholesterol build up in the liver .
  • DNA synthesis: Choline, other vitamins like B12 and folate, also contribute to DNA synthesis.
  • Healthy nervous system: This nutrient is needed to create an important neurotransmitter. It involves memory, motor movement, heart rate regulation and many other basic functions.

Summary: Choline participates in many different processes. Includes structure and cell transmission, fat metabolism and metabolism, DNA synthesis and nervous system.

How much is enough?

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
The demand for choline in each person varies according to genotype and gender

To get enough choline, you need to absorb it from your diet. However, due to the lack of available evidence, reference daily consumption (RDI) has not been established.

However, the Institute of Medicine has determined the value for consumption (AI) . This value is believed to be sufficient for most healthy people, helping them avoid negative consequences of deficiency such as liver damage.

However, the needs of each person vary according to genotype and gender .

In addition, it is difficult to determine the amount of choline a person needs to consume due to limited knowledge of the amount available in different foods.

Below is the recommended AI value for choline according to different ages :

  • 0-6 months: 125 mg / day.
  • 7-12 months old: 150 mg / day.
  • 1-3 years old: 200 mg / day.
  • 4-8 years: 250 mg / day.
  • 9-13 years old: 375 mg / day.
  • 14-18 years old, female: 400 mg / day.
  • 14-19 years old, male: 550 mg / day.
  • Grown woman: 425 mg per day.
  • Adult men: 550 mg / day.
  • Breast-feeding women: 550 mg / day.
  • Pregnant women: 450 mg / day.

It is important to note that many people are fine with choline, while others need more .

In a study of 26 men, six symptoms developed due to lack of choline even when consumed by AI .

Summary: Choline intake is 425 mg per day for women and 550 mg per day for men. However, the needs vary with each individual.

Choline deficiency can be harmful to health, but rarely occurs

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
Choline should be supplemented, especially during pregnancy

Choline deficiency can be harmful, especially for the liver.

A small study of 57 adults examined the effect of choline-deficient diets.

Results showed that 77% of men, 80% of menopausal women and 44% of menopausal women suffered liver and / or muscle injury after applying this diet .

Another study found that when menopausal women consumed a choline-deficient diet, 73% suffered liver or muscle damage .

However, these symptoms disappear when they start getting enough choline.

Choline is especially important in pregnancy, since less consumption can increase the risk of neural tube defects in unborn children.

One study found that higher choline intake at conception period was associated with a lower risk of neural tube defects .

In addition, low choline consumption may increase the risk of other pregnancy complications, including pre-eclampsia, premature birth and low birth weight .

In addition, it should be noted that although most Americans do not consume sufficient amounts in the diet, the actual shortage is rare.

Summary: Choline deficiency is associated with liver and / or muscle damage. Less consumption during pregnancy is associated with complications.

Some people are at risk of deficiency

Although choline deficiency is rare, some people are at increased risk :

  • Endurance athletes: Abnormal performance in prolonged exercises, such as marathon. Is it still unclear whether the use of supplements improves performance .
  • People who drink a lot of alcohol: Alcohol can increase demand and risk of deficiency, especially when consumed less .
  • Postmenopausal women: Estrogen hormone helps produce choline in the body. Because estrogen levels tend to decrease in postmenopausal women, they are at high risk of deficiency .
  • Pregnant: Demand increases during pregnancy. This is most likely because babies need choline to grow .

Summary: People at high risk of deficiency include athletes, drinkers, postmenopausal women and pregnant women.

Foods that contain the most choline

Choline can be obtained from many foods and functional foods.

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
Eggs are rich in choline

Food source

Foods in general are in the form of from a kind of fat.

Rich sources of choline include liver, egg , fish , soy bean , broccoli and broccoli :

  • Beef liver: 1 slice (2.4 oz or 68 grams) contains 290 mg.
  • Chicken liver: 1 slice (2.4 oz or 68 grams) contains 222 mg.
  • Egg: 1 large hard-boiled egg contains 113 mg.
  • Fresh cod: 3 oz (85 grams) contains 248 mg.
  • Salmon: A 3.9-oz (110 gram) fillet contains 62.7 mg.
  • Cauliflower (cauliflower): 1 half cup (118 ml) contains 24.2 mg.
  • Broccoli: 1 half cup (118 ml) contains 31.3 mg.
  • Soybean oil: 1 tablespoon (15 ml) contains 47.3 mg.

Therefore, only one egg provides about 20-25% of daily demand, and two large eggs provide nearly half of the daily demand .

In addition, a 3 oz (85 gram) cow or liver diet can provide all the daily needs of women and most men .

Summary: Foods rich in choline include beef liver, eggs, fish, nuts and certain vegetables like broccoli and broccoli.

Additives and functional foods

Soy lecithin is a type of food additive containing choline that is widely used. Therefore, the additional amount is consumed through a diet with food additives.

Lecithin can also be purchased as a functional food. However, lecithin tends to contain only 10-20% phosphatidylcholine.

Phosphatidylcholine can also be used as a pill or supplement, but choline only accounts for about 13% by weight of phosphatidylcholine .

Other forms of addition include chloride choline, CDP-choline, alpha-GPC and betaine.

If you are looking for a functional food then CDP-choline and alpha-GPC tend to contain more choline per weight unit. They are also easier to absorb than others.

Some sources claim that choline in nutritional supplements may reduce body fat, but there is little or no evidence to support these claims.

Summary: Choline can also be consumed as a functional food. CDP-choline and alpha-GPC are the best.

Choline and cardiovascular health

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
This deficiency of choline can cause homocysteine ​​accumulation in the blood

High consumption of choline is associated with a lower risk of heart disease .

Folate and choline are involved in converting homocysteine ​​amino acids to methionine. Therefore, the deficiency of one of these two nutrients can cause homocysteine ​​accumulation in the blood.

Increased levels of homocysteine ​​in the blood are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke .

However, evidence on this topic is inconsistent.

Although choline can reduce homocysteine ​​levels, the relationship between choline and the risk of heart disease is unclear .

Summary: Choline can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering homocysteine ​​levels. However, the evidence is inconsistent.

Choline and brain

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
Choline can improve brain function

Choline needed to produce acetylcholine, neurotransmitter plays an important role in regulating memory, mood and intelligence .

It is also essential for DNA synthesis, which is important for brain function and development .

Therefore, it is not surprising that intake of choline is associated with improved brain function.

Memory and brain function

Large-scale observational studies link the amount of choline consumed and blood levels in improving brain function, including processing and better memory .

Adding 1,000 mg daily helps improve short-term and long-term memory in adults aged 50-85 with poor memory .

In a six-month study, phosphatidylcholine helped Alzheimer's patients significantly improve memory in a small subgroup .

However, other studies on healthy people and people with dementia have no effect on memory .

Summary: Consumption of more choline involves improved memory function in some studies, but the evidence is inconsistent.

Brain development

Some animal studies suggest that choline supplementation during pregnancy can improve fetal brain development .

However, there are only a few studies on this issue in humans.

An observational study in 1,210 pregnant women found that consumption of choline was not associated with mental activity in children when they were 3 years old .

However, the same study found that greater consumption during the next 3 months of pregnancy was associated with better visual memory scores than with 7-year-old children .

Another study for 99 pregnant women taking 750 mg of choline daily since they were pregnant 18 weeks to three months after pregnancy did not find benefits for brain function or memory .

Summary: Animal studies suggest that choline supplements in pregnancy can improve brain development. However, the evidence in humans is limited.

Mental health

Some evidence suggests that choline can play a role in developing and treating certain mental health disorders.

A large-scale observational study showed lower choline levels in the blood were associated with a higher risk of anxiety, but did not cause depression .

These levels are also used as a measure for some mental disorders, and choline supplements are sometimes used to treat bipolar disorder .

One study found that choline therapy improves painful symptoms in people diagnosed with bipolar disorder .

However, there has not been much research on this issue.

Summary: Choline can play a role in treating disorders such as anxiety and bipolar disorder. However, more research is needed.

Other health benefits of choline

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
Raw beef liver

Choline levels are related to the development and treatment of certain diseases.

However, for most of them this relationship is not clear and is still conducting further research .

Liver failure

Despite the lack of choline leading liver disease, it is unclear whether consumption is lower than the recommended level leading to an increased risk of liver disease.

A study of more than 56,000 people found that women with the highest body weight consumption had a 28% lower risk of liver disease than those who ate the least .

The study found no association with liver disease in overweight men or women .

Another study in 664 people with non-alcoholic liver disease found that consuming less choline was associated with more serious disease .

Summary: Limited evidence suggests that choline levels may reduce the risk or severity of liver disease in some people.


Some studies have found that women who eat a lot of choline may have a lower risk of breast cancer .

A study of 1,508 women found that people who followed a free choline-rich diet had less than 24% of breast cancer .

However, the evidence is not consistent.

Other studies have found no link to cancer, but laboratory research suggests that a deficiency may increase the risk of liver cancer .

Conversely, higher consumption also increases the risk of prostate cancer in men and increases the risk of colon cancer in women .

Summary: The relationship between choline and cancer is unclear. In some cases, more consumption may reduce the risk. For other types of cancer, more consumption may increase the risk.

Neural tube defects

High consumption of choline during pregnancy may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in newborns.

One study found that women who consumed more choline during conception had a 51% lower risk of developing neural tube defects than women who consumed very little .

Another observational study showed that pregnant women have at least twice as many servings as having a child with neural tube defects .

However, other studies show no association between maternal consumption and the risk of neural tube defects .

Summary: Some evidence suggests that consuming more choline during pregnancy may reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

Too much can be harmful

Choline - Essential Nutrient With Many Health Benefits
Excessive consumption of choline is associated with unpleasant side effects and can be harmful.

These include lowering blood pressure, sweating, body odor, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

The maximum daily limit for adults is 3,500 mg per day. This is the highest consumption possible without harm.

Few people eat such an amount only through food. It is almost impossible to achieve this level without taking supplements in large doses.

Summary: Excessive consumption of choline is associated with unpleasant side effects and can be harmful.

Main message

Choline is an essential nutrient essential for optimal health.

It can play an important role in helping the brain function healthy, healthy heart, liver function and pregnancy.

Although the actual shortage is rare, most Westerners do not consume this substance.