Choline is an essential compound necessary for normal bodily function and human health.
It's neither a vitamin nor a mineral but it's often grouped with the vitamin B complex due to its similarities. In fact, this essential nutrient affects a number of vital bodily functions, including liver function, healthy brain development, muscle movement, nervous system maintenance, and metabolism.
Choline plays a crucial role in several important processes within your body:
Choline plays a crucial role in cognitive function because it is a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in many functions including memory and muscle control.
Several studies indicate that dietary supplements containing choline may improve memory and cognition. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects and to understand the optimal choline dosage for cognitive health.
Choline, in conjunction with other nutrients like folate and B vitamins, helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is associated with heart disease when present in high concentrations. By aiding in the conversion of homocysteine to other substances, choline may contribute to heart health.
More research is required to determine the exact effects of choline on heart health and whether choline supplements could be recommended as a part of heart disease prevention or treatment strategies.
Choline intake during pregnancy has been associated with a reduced risk of neural tube defects and potential enhancements in cognitive development in offspring.
The importance of choline during pregnancy is reflected in the increased recommended daily intake for pregnant women, which is 930 mg/day.
Choline plays a vital role in cognitive function throughout all stages of life.
In early life, it aids in the development of the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory and learning.
In older adults, choline may help maintain cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer's.
The role of choline in brain development begins even before birth.
It is critical in the development of the brain and spinal cord during pregnancy and continues to be important as the child grows, particularly in the development of the memory center of the brain. Higher choline intakes during pregnancy have been linked to improved cognitive function in children.
Preliminary research suggests that people with cystic fibrosis may have lower levels of choline, and that choline supplementation may improve lung function and liver health in these individuals.
However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and understand how choline may be used in the management of cystic fibrosis.
The Institute of Medicine has set adequate intake (AI) values for choline, which are intended to be sufficient for most healthy individuals and to help them avoid negative consequences of deficiency, such as liver damage.
Recommended AI values of choline for different age groups:
|Age Group||Choline Intake per Day (Male)||Choline Intake per Day (Female)|
|0-6 months||125 mg||125 mg|
|7-12 months||150 mg||150 mg|
|1-3 years||200 mg||200 mg|
|4-8 years||250 mg||250 mg|
|9-13 years||375 mg||375 mg|
|14-18 years||550 mg||400 mg (450 mg during pregnancy, 550 mg during lactation)|
|19+ years||550 mg||425 mg (450 mg during pregnancy, 550 mg during lactation)|
Choline deficiency can cause harm, particularly for your liver.
One study found that a significant proportion of adults experienced liver and/or muscle damage after going on a choline-deficient diet. Choline is particularly important during pregnancy, as a low intake may increase the risk of neural tube defects in unborn babies and other pregnancy complications.
Despite the fact that most Americans do not consume adequate amounts of choline in their diets, actual deficiency is rare.
Certain individuals are at an increased risk for choline deficiency:
Choline can be obtained from various foods and supplements.
|Food Source||Amount of Choline|
|Beef Liver (2.4 oz or 68 grams)||290 mg|
|Chicken Liver (2.4 oz or 68 grams)||222 mg|
|1 Large Hard-boiled Egg||113 mg|