Choline is a recently discovered essential nutrient. Research suggests that choline has a wide range of benefits and roles in metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis, and cell structure. Studies have shown that choline could in fact play several beneficial roles in human health, in regard to liver health, brain function, and heart health. We’re going to discuss choline benefits and how this essential nutrient can positively impact your health.
Choline is an essential nutrient, recently acknowledged by the institute of medicine in 1998. It is an organic, water-soluble compound and is neither a vitamin nor a mineral and is often grouped with the Vitamin B Complex due to similarities. Although your body produces some choline on its own, you do need to obtain it from your diet and nutrition. Choline is found in a vast array of foods, including chicken liver, salmon, eggs, milk, bacon, and quinoa. Like I said – vast array.
Recent studies show that choline supplementation during neo-natal development can have longer term effects on memory. Animal studies reveal that choline supplementation during the later period of pregnancy, may in fact change the hippocampus – the memory center of the brain [R]. Multiple modifications also develop in the gene expression which influence memory and learning. Currently there are no human studies that examine whether choline supplementation enhances memory performance to offspring during pregnancy [R].
When choline levels are low, there is a diminished capacity to methylate homocysteine to methionine, increasing plasma homocysteine levels. Elevate homocysteine levels have been associated with a greater risk of several chronic disease states, including cardiovascular disease [R]. Studies have shown that daily choline supplementation can lower homocysteine levels.
A study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition administered 2.6g of choline in the form of phosphatidylcholine to a group of men aged 51-70 and found that choline supplementation was as effective as folic acid, and that choline intake may be associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease [R].
Choline deficiency is linked to DNA damage and apoptosis. Human clinical trials have shown induced choline deficiency increased DNA damage in lymphocytes and that higher dietary intake of choline is associated with a decrease in breast cancer. In the first study to examine the association of choline and breast cancer, and found that breast cancer was reduced by 24% among women with high dietary choline intake [R].
Choline has also been shown to benefit the liver, with a deficiency linked to liver disease. An observational study published in the Journal Nutrition including more than 56,000 people found that a higher choline intake was associated with lower risk of fatty liver disease after participants were adjusted for previous histories of alcohol consumption, hepatitis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer [R].
Average choline intakes are far below the recommended daily intake. Eating foods such as eggs, chicken, tuna, milk, salmon, quinoa, and turkey can help provide higher choline intake and support optimal bodily function and reduce your risk for chronic disease and improve cognitive performance.
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