The benefits of choline are discussed in detail in this article. Choline is a chemical molecule that dissolves in water. It’s not a mineral or a vitamin. Choline gives you methyl groups, which are needed for a lot of metabolic reactions in your body. The body needs choline to make phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, which are two critical phospholipids that cell membranes need.
As a result, all plant and animal cells need choline to stay the way they are. Also, choline is required in order to make acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that is important for mood, memory, controlling muscles, and other nerve and brain functions. Choline is also involved in the control of gene expression, communication across cell membranes, the transport and metabolism of lipids, and the early development of the brain.
The table below shows the expected adequate intakes (AI) of choline based on age, biological sex, pregnancy status, and whether or not a woman is breastfeeding:
- Infants aged 0–1 year old, boys and girls, should be given 125–150 mg daily.
- For children aged 1 to 3, boys and girls should take 200 mg daily.
- For children aged 4 to 8, boys and girls should take 250 mg daily.
- For kids aged 9 to 13, boys and girls should take 375 mg daily.
- Males aged 14–19+ should take 550 mg daily, and females aged 14–19+ should take 400–425 mg daily.
- Pregnant women should take 450 mg daily, and women who are breastfeeding should take 550 mg daily.
Uses of choline
Choline can potentially change how a baby grows and how the pregnancy goes. In one study, pregnant women in their third trimester were given either 480 mg or 930 mg of choline daily. Those who used the substance more often had lower signs of preeclampsia. Swelling, high blood pressure, and severe headaches are all signs of preeclampsia.
Boosting metabolism is included in the benefits of choline. Several studies show that choline plays a role in how fats are broken down. The BMIs and leptin levels of female athletes who took choline supplements were lower than those of the control group. Leptin is a hormone that controls fat.
In cell structure, choline is needed to make lipids, which help keep the structure of cell membranes intact. Choline is a part of the process of making chemicals that act as “messengers” between cells.
Choline is needed to make a chemical that helps your liver get rid of cholesterol as part of moving fat around and breaking it down. If you don’t get enough choline, your liver may store fat and cholesterol.
Advantages of choline
One study showed that ten adult males with cystic fibrosis who took choline supplements had better lung function and more minor fatty liver disease symptoms.
Improving memory and cognition is included in the benefits of choline. Choline is a nutrient that the brain needs to grow and work well. In an observational study of people aged 70–74, those with higher levels of choline were smarter than those with lower levels of choline.
In another study that just looked at what people did, low levels of choline, vitamin C, and zinc were linked to older men having a worse working memory.
Choline and other vitamins, including B12 and folate, help with a crucial step in making DNA. This process is known as DNA synthesis.
Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter that can’t be made without this nutrient. A healthy nervous system needs acetylcholine. It helps you remember things, move your muscles, control your heartbeat, and do other essential things.
Choline deficiency and surplus
Choline insufficiency can also happen to people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have genetic changes that make the body need more choline. If you don’t get enough choline, you may have the following health problems:
- muscle damage
- cardiovascular disease
- abnormalities in the neural tube
- Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders
- Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
Even though not getting enough choline can be bad for your health, getting too much choline can also cause problems, such as:
- a fishy odour on the body
- liver toxicity
- excessive salivation
The benefits of choline include protecting heart health. A study found a link between eating more choline and having a lower chance of having an ischemic stroke.
Choline can come from several different foods. Babies need a lot of choline in their first few months of life. They get most of it from breast milk. Some foods with the most choline are potatoes, soybeans, and mushrooms. To avoid insufficiency, you should eat a healthy diet full of whole foods.