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What is Choline and why do you need it?

Sustainable Health

This article was written as a response to a question asked on our online forum, by Sujata Shukla

Choline is an essential nutrient that is manufactured by the liver in our bodies, can be derived from natural food sources and is available as a dietary  supplement too. The amount produced by our bodies isn’t enough for our needs and so it must be supplement through external means – diet or supplements. Choline is most easily obtained through foods of animal origin – both meats and dairy products. 

The Role of Choline

  • Production of a neurotransmitter that plays a role in the control of mood, memory and muscle control among other brain and nervous system functions
  • Early brain development
  • Cell membrane signalling
  • Lipid transport and metabolism
  • Modulation of gene expression

Choline Deficiency

A Choline deficiency can cause disorders in the liver and muscles, as well as the kidneys, pancreas, and the developing brain and nervous system. Specific disorders include

  • Development of non alcoholic fatty liver
  • Prolonged deficiency has been shown to cause liver cancer (in rodents)
  • Liver and muscle damage
  • Accumulation of fat in blood and liver
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney (issues with urine concentration)
  • Folate deficiency is likely (and it’s related issues)

Dietary Sources

Choline is found in a number of foods, with the highest concentrations available in foods of animal origin, including dairy, especially organ meats and egg yolks. These include:

  1. flax-seed
  2. oats
  3. butter
  4. liver
  5. cod
  6. cauliflower
  7. shrimp
  8. potatoes
  9. Brussels-sprouts
  10. broccoli
  11. salmon
  12. sesame-seeds
  13. lentils
  14. egg-yolk
  15. soybeans
  16. beef
  17. peanuts
  18. milk
  19. wheat-germ

Daily Dose

The recommendation for men is 550mg and for women, 425mg per day. Pregnancy, lactation, the consumption of methotrexate and Vitamin B-3 deficiency may cause an increased requirement of Choline. Choline is available as a supplement.

References

  • https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518394/
  • https://www.livestrong.com/article/289946-choline-deficiency-disease/
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