No one talks much about choline. It’s not in the spotlight, but without it, every cell in your body is affected.
As you may well know if you have been following me for any length of time, I recommend a whole food plant diet. The reason for this is that when you eat processed foods, nutrients are not in their proper balance like they would otherwise be found in nature. However, there can be instances that taking a specific nutrient can prove helpful for a time…
Brief overview of the functions of choline:
Choline has many functions in the body and is especially important for the brain. It is needed for:
- Neurotransmitter synthesis (acetylcholine)1 – This has to do with the chemicals that help your brain to function properly.
- Cell membrane signaling (phospholipids)1 – The cell membranes are the wall or lining around your cells. Choline helps those membranes communicate with other cells in the body.
- Fat transport (lipoproteins)1 – This helps to move your fatty acids throughout the body to where they need to go to be used.
- Methyl group metabolism1 – This has to do with putting certain molecules in a form that can be used for specific reactions in the body (such as DNA).
Why should you worry about choline?
Choline is excellent to take for any brain issues but is especially important to take while pregnant or nursing. High intakes of choline in pregnancy are associated with an improved cognitive function in adulthood, helps prevent memory loss and protects the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. It also protects from the neurological damage associated with epilepsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other neurological related inherited conditions.2
What about toxicity?
The tolerable upper limit of choline is 3500 mg/day. Getting an excessive amount of choline is associated with a fishy body odor, vomiting, excessive sweating and salivation, low blood pressure and liver toxicity as well as an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.3 This is rare and would not happen with food and whole food supplementation.
How much do you need?
The adequate intake levels for adults are 425 mg/day for woman and 550 mg/day for men.3
Here are some great whole food sources of choline:
Although many say that you need animal products to get choline, there are plenty of great plant sources such as soybeans, red potatoes, wheat germ, kidney beans, quinoa, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, cauliflower, peas, sunflower seeds and brown rice.
But as always, the best way to see what you need is to schedule your holistic health consultation to have a specific health program that is unique to your needs.
1. Zeisel SH, Da Costa KA. Choline: An essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x
2. Blusztajn JK, Slack BE, Mellott TJ. Neuroprotective actions of dietary choline. Nutrients. 2017. doi:10.3390/nu9080815
3. Health NI of. Choline Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements.