Everything You Need to Know About Choline

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People love eating eggs because they are delicious, easy to cook, and offer plenty of nutritional benefits. Packed with protein, healthy fats, selenium, vitamin D, and a variety of other minerals and vitamins, eggs are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet.

There is, however, one nutrient that eggs contain that people do not know a lot about –  choline. Note to be confused with chlorine, choline is a B vitamin, which also happens to be an essential nutrient. Choline is a nutrient that plays an important role in the biological processes of the human body. It has an important part to play when it comes to the signaling between cells and nerves, transportation of cholesterol in the body, and even energy metabolism.

Acetylcholine is a chemical produced by the brain, which is part of the processes involved with our memory. This vital chemical compound cannot be made without the intake of choline. Choline also contributes to the production of sphingomyelin and phosphatidylcholine – both of which are vital parts of cell membranes.

The human body can produce choline naturally but only in small amounts. To furnish healthy levels of choline, it is necessary to add nutrients to your diet that contain this essential element. Choline can be found in several different foods and if there is a serious deficiency, you can take choline supplements that are available in retail markets.

Health Benefits of Choline

There are several benefits that you can reap by having this nutrient as a part of your dietary intake. Here is a look at some of the most prominent ones.

Better Liver Health

If the human body does not get enough choline, it can contribute to liver issues. According to a study published by the American Journal of Nutrition in 2007, you need a healthy intake of choline to help your liver function properly.

This study saw almost 60 adults given a diet which contained 550 mg of choline for 10 days. After that, the sample of adults being tested was fed a diet that contained less than 50 mg of choline for up to 42 days. There was a massive difference in how things turned out. Almost half of the women who had not yet undergone menopause developed muscle damage and a fatty liver problem. Similarly, 80 percent of the women who had undergone menopause developed fatty livers and muscle problems. Furthermore, 77 percent of the male demographic in the sample developed similar issues with their livers during the second phase of the test.

Cognitive Function

An observational study suggested that choline played a significant role in the cognitive functioning of men and women. This proves that choline is necessary for the normal development of the human brain and the neural pathways, which are responsible for enhancing memory. The cognitive performance of participants who had lower levels of choline was poor compared to the participants who had proper levels of choline in their systems. Their performance was measured through their speed of perception, global cognition, sensorimotor speed, and executive function.  

Choline and Pregnancy

Building on the necessity of choline for the healthy development of cognitive brain functions, a report was published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The report stated that increased consumption of foods containing high levels of choline contributed to the development of the brain in the fetus of pregnant women. Studies conducted on animals have shown that if they consume a high choline-based diet in the first year after their birth, they have enhanced memory skills throughout their lives.

How Can You Detect Choline Deficiency?

A person may experience several health issues due to choline deficiency. These include memory problems, muscle damage, insomnia, and excessive fatigue. If an individual has a problem of severe choline deficiency, they might experience nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and significant liver damage.

What Are The Sources of Choline?

Several foods are rich in choline content. Eggs, beef liver, and soybeans are some of the choline-rich foods. Choline can also be found in good quantity in some other foods like mushrooms, potatoes, chicken, dairy products, fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grain foods.

Here is a look at the example of foods containing choline and the quantity of choline in them:

    • Wheat germ: 51 mg of choline per ounce
    • Broccoli: 31 mg of choline per every half cup
    • Chicken breast: 72 mg of choline per 3 ounces
    • Eggs: 147 mg of choline for every large egg
    • Beef liver: 356 mg of choline per 3 ounces (the highest amount)

Precautions When It Comes to Choline

While choline is an essential part of our diet, there are some considerations that you should keep in mind when consuming it. If taken in high dosage, choline can cause certain adverse effects, including body odor, nausea, vomiting, sweating, low blood pressure, salivation, and liver damage.

According to a study, the deficiency of choline can increase the levels of certain amino acids in the body which are linked to heart disease. This is why having a good intake of this nutrient has also been linked to healthier hearts.

It is important to take notice of the fact that choline supplements should never be solely relied on for the intake of choline. It can cause health concerns. It is always better to rely on regular dietary items to fulfill your choline needs.

Recommended Intake of Choline

While it has still not been established exactly how much choline a person should take in a single day, there are certain guidelines about the recommended intake. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends that the proper intake of choline per day for men is at 550 mg. For women, the recommended choline intake should be at 425 mg per day.

Final Thoughts

A lot of people can meet their daily needs for the intake of choline through their regular diet without having to take any extra precautions for it. Of course, there are some cases where a person is unable to fulfill their basic daily requirement of choline intake. If you are worried about the possibility of choline deficiency, it is recommended that you do not start taking supplements of choline on your own.

It is best to go to a certified dietician or your physician to share your concerns about the matter so that if you do need to take supplements, you can get the best possible dosage based on expert opinion.