Choline

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Functions

  • Synthesis of neurotransmitter acetylcholine
    • precursor molecule for neurotransmitter acetylcholine
    • acetylcholine involved in many functions such as memory and muscle control
  • Used in the synthesis of constructional components of cell membranes
    • essential for structural integrity and signaling roles of cell membranes

Deficiency

Mild

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • impaired ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine
  • memory problems
  • nerve-muscle imbalances
  • deficiency of folic acid

Severe

  • infertility
  • hypertension
  • growth impairment
  • bone abnormalities
  • cirrhosis of liver, fatty liver (Fischer LM et al. 2010)
  • muscle damage (Fischer LM et al. 2010)
  • hemorrhagic kidney necrosis

Characteristics

  • water-soluble
  • usually grouped with B vitamins
  • quaternary ammonium salts containing the N,N,N-trimethylethanolammonium cation
    • Required nutrients for choline to obtain all three methyl groups:
      • vitamin B3
      • folic acid
      • methionine (amino acid)
  • found in head groups of phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin
    • two classes of phospholipid that are abundant in cell membranes

Good Sources

Natural

  • eggs
  • liver
  • milk
  • cruciferous vegetables
    • eg: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, cress, bok choy, etc.

Food Quantity mg
Beef liver 3 oz 400
Egg 1 large 113+
Milk, 1% fat 1 cup 43
Beef, 80% lean, ground 3 oz 69
Cod Fish 3 oz 71
Peanuts 1/2 cup 38
Cauliflower 4 oz 44
Kidney beans, cooked 1/2 cup 27
Tofu 1/4 cup 36
Quinoa, uncooked 1/4 cup 30

Artificial

  • Lecithin (food additive derived from soy or egg yolks)
  • Choline Chloride (supplement)

Notes

  • Recognized as an essential nutrient since 1998
    • established AI by Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine
  • Human body can synthesize some choline
    • dietary choline requirements vary among individuals
    • some individuals need more than AI and some need less
  • Only 2% of US postmenopausal women consume the recommended intake for choline (2005 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey)
  • Increased need during pregnancy
  • Possible anti-inflammatory (ATTICA study, 2004)
  • May reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis (Das S et al. 2005)
  • Little or no evidence exists to demonstrate any effect on reducing body fat

Adequate Intakes (AI)

  • Males (14 yrs. and older)
    • 550 mg
  • Females (19 yrs. and older)
    • 425 mg
  • Pregnant females
    • 450 mg
  • Lactating females
    • 550 mg
  • Children
    • 220-375 mg
  • Infants
    • 125 mg

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL)

  • Males (19 yrs. and older)
    • 3500 mg
  • Females (19 yrs. and older)
    • 3500 mg
  • Pregnant females
    • 3500 mg
  • Lactating females
    • 3500 mg
  • Children
    • 1000-3000 mg

Intakes above UL may lead to negative health consequences.

  • sweating
  • salivation
  • hypotension
  • hepatotoxicity
  • colon adenomas (polyps) in women (Nurses Health Study)

Supplementation

  • vegetarians and vegans
    • or those that do no not eat whole eggs
  • endurance athletes
  • alcoholics
    • or those that drink a lot of alcohol
  • Most American's do not meet the their AI
    • Some have suggested this can be attributed to the anti-cholesterol propaganda


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