- What Is Choline? An Essential Nutrient With Many Benefits
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What Is Choline? An Essential Nutrient With Many Benefits
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Sign in or Join now. This value is intended to be sufficient for most healthy people, helping them avoid negative consequences of deficiency, such as liver damage.
Nevertheless, requirements differ according to genetic makeup and gender 7 , 8 , 9. In addition, determining choline intake is difficult because its presence in various foods is relatively unknown. Here are the recommended AI values of choline for different age groups 10 :. It is important to note that choline needs may depend on the individual. Many people do fine with less choline, while others need more 2.
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In one study in 26 men, six developed symptoms of choline deficiency even when consuming the AI 9. Choline is especially important during pregnancy , as a low intake may raise the risk of neural tube defects in unborn babies. One study determined that a higher dietary intake around the time of conception was associated with a lower risk of neural tube defects In addition, low choline intake may raise your risk of other pregnancy complications.
These include preeclampsia, premature birth and low birth weight 2. Although choline deficiency is rare, certain people are at an increased risk 14 :. The richest dietary sources of choline include 21 :. In addition, a single 3-ounce gram serving of beef kidney or liver can supply all of a woman's daily requirement and most of a man's Soy lecithin is a widely used food additive that contains choline. Therefore, it is likely that extra choline is consumed through the diet via food additives. Lecithin can also be purchased as a supplement.
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They are also more easily absorbed than others. Some sources claim that choline in nutritional supplements may reduce body fat , but there is little to no evidence supporting these claims.
Higher intake of choline is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease Folate and choline help convert the amino acid homocysteine to methionine. Therefore, a deficiency of either nutrient can result in an accumulation of homocysteine in your blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine in your blood are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes Although choline may lower homocysteine levels, the association of choline intake with heart disease risk is not clear 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , Choline is required to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating memory , mood and intelligence It's also needed for the process that synthesizes DNA, which is important for brain function and development Therefore, it's not surprising that choline intake is associated with improvements in brain function.
Large observational studies link choline intake and blood levels to improved brain function , including better memory and processing 35 , Supplementing with 1, mg per day led to improved short- and long-term verbal memory in adults aged 50—85 who had poor memory In a 6-month study, giving phosphatidylcholine to people with early Alzheimer's disease modestly improved memory in one small subgroup However, other studies on healthy people and those with dementia found no effects on memory 39 , 40 , Several animal studies suggest that taking choline supplements during pregnancy may improve fetal brain development 20 , 42 , One observational study of 1, pregnant women found that choline intake had no links to mental performance in their children at 3 years of age Nevertheless, the same study determined that a higher intake during the second trimester was associated with better visual memory scores in the same children at age 7 In another study, 99 pregnant women took mg of choline per day from 18 weeks of pregnancy to three months after pregnancy.
They experienced no benefits for brain function or memory Some evidence suggests choline may play a role in the development and treatment of certain mental health disorders. One large observational study linked lower blood levels to a higher risk of anxiety — but not depression These levels are also used as an indicator for certain mood disorders, and choline supplements are sometimes used to treat bipolar disorder One study found that choline therapy improved symptoms of mania in individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder However, for most of these, the relationship is not clear and research is ongoing Although choline deficiency results in liver disease, it's unclear whether intakes below the recommended levels increase your risk of liver disease.
The study showed no association with liver disease in men or overweight women Another study in people with non-alcoholic liver disease found that lower intakes were associated with greater disease severity Some research indicates that women who eat a lot of choline may have a lower risk of breast cancer 53 , 54 , Other observational studies found no association with cancer , but test-tube studies suggest that a deficiency may increase your risk of liver cancer 56 , 57 , Conversely, higher intakes are also associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer in men and colon cancer in women 59 , Another observational study discovered that pregnant women with the lowest intakes were more than twice as likely to have babies with neural tube defects However, other studies observed no link between the mother's intake and the risk of neural tube defects 63 ,