- Helps prevent fatty liver
- May improve cognition
- Supports fetal development
- May help with asthma
- Safe for children and pregnant women
Firstly Choline is a nutrient we all require for optimal health. Although the body makes some, we need to get it from a diet to avoid deficiency. Secondly You will sometimes find it classified as a vitamin B, but it doesn’t actually belong to this group .
Thirdly Choline plays key roles in :
Generally the Institute of Medicine has recently acknowledged choline as an essential nutrient. They recommend the following daily intakes :
Most people don’t get enough choline in their diets. In the same vein possible symptoms of its deficiency include
Luckily, the typical symptoms are rare, despite the widespread lower intake. This is likely due to the ability of our liver to make certain amounts of choline .
In addition groups of people at a higher risk of choline deficiency include:
Firstly it is an important methyl donor for various methylation reactions. Furthermore a diet is low in folate, another methyl donor, choline requirements increase .
Generally the best choline food sources include beef liver, eggs, chicken, and beans (Table 1) .
Table 1: Choline Food Sources
|Beef liver, fried||3 ounces||356||65|
|Egg, hard–boiled||1 large||147||27|
|Soybeans, roasted||½ cup||107||19|
|Chicken breast, roasted||3 ounces||72||13|
|Codfish, cooked||3 ounces||71||13|
|Shiitake mushrooms, cooked||½ cup||58||11|
|Red potatoes, baked||1 large||57||10|
|Beans, kidney, canned||½ cup||45||8|
For example, you would need to eat about 3 ounces of beef liver or 1-2 eggs daily to meet the daily requirements .
It builds phosphatidylcholine, which helps break down fats in the liver. Therefore, low choline levels can lead to fat accumulation in the liver .
In a large Chinese observational trial (over 56,000 people), higher intake of choline lowered the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) but only in normal-weight women.
In 54 healthy adults, low-choline diets raised the risk of fatty liver disease and other liver problems. Its introduction into their diets reversed these effects.
Additionally in Another trial with 57 adults confirmed that low-choline diets might cause fatty liver, especially in postmenopausal women.
Similarly people on total parenteral (intravenous) nutrition are at a higher risk of fatty liver due to its deficiency. Luckily doctors can successfully prevent this by adding intravenous choline .
In many animal studies, higher choline intake and its supplementation could :
Generally the potential benefits in this section stem from low-quality clinical trials, animal, and cell-based studies. However they are not researched well enough to recommend its supplements for any of the below conditions.
It builds the protective myelin sheath around neurons and restores the levels of acetylcholine. This effect may help keep cognitive decline at bay .
In two observational studies of 3,400 people, its intake was positively associated with cognitive performance .
In studies on rats and mice, choline supplementation was able to :
In animal models of asthma, it reduced inflammation and oxidative stress while improving lung function .
It is essential during fetal development, yet many pregnant women don’t have adequate intakes.
Multiple reviews of human and animal trials have proclaimed it is a vital nutrient for fetal brain development. Furthermore optimal choline intake during pregnancy :
In different animal trials, prenatal supplementation could :
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause a range of physical and mental disorders in the offspring, collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).
A few studies have shown that it could help with bipolar disorder in children; it may be a useful addition to drug treatment .
In a small clinical trial, 5/6 patients with bipolar disorder experienced notable symptom improvements with choline therapy combined with standard treatment .
Generally Many supplements are promoted to stimulate weight loss. However valid clinical research has debunked most of those claims. A healthy, calorie-controlled diet and increased physical activity remain your best allies in weight control .
Similarly in a clinical trial with 22 female athletes, its supplementation (2 g daily, 7 days before a competition) reduced body mass index (BMI) by 12% with no side effects on their performance .
According to an observational trial with over 3,200 subjects, lower dietary choline intake was linked with :
In other words, people who consumed more of it were less likely to become obese.
Similarly study on obese mice confirmed the potential of choline to stimulate weight loss by enhancing mitochondrial function and fat burning .
However, a review of 50 clinical trials reported inconsistent effects on body composition .
According to limited clinical evidence from low-quality clinical trials, it may also help with:
On the other hand there’s insufficient evidence to proclaim its supplements safe and effective for these conditions.
A couple of smaller, low-quality clinical studies have found no significant effects for:
Most importantly it supplies methyl groups essential for converting homocysteine to methionine. Similarly Low levels of it may thus lead to homocysteine buildup, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke in some people .
In the same vein almost 4,000 African-American patients, higher intake lowered the risk of stroke .
On the other hand, increased consumption of foods rich in it raises the level of a toxic metabolite: trimethylamine–N–oxide (TMAO).
Additionally according to the data from over 120,000 adults, its increased intake was associated with up to 26% higher cardiovascular mortality (from heart disease and stroke) .
All in all, the effects of dietary choline on cardiovascular health are inconsistent, and a review of 50 clinical trials came to this conclusion. However Further research is warranted .
Generally In two observational trial of over 4,000 women, higher intake was associated with lower rates of breast cancer .
Likewise in a Chinese study of 1700+ patients, the highest choline intake correlated with almost two times lower rates of colon cancer .
Generally in an observational trial with over 45,000 men, those with the highest choline intake had 70% higher rates of lethal prostate cancer.
In the same vein Higher choline blood levels were associated with increased rates of prostate cancer in 1,500 patients .
Generally it is usually dosed within a range of 500 – 2000 mg/day.
However If you’re just starting out with its supplements, it’s wise to work with your doctor, start slow, and track your response over time.