About two decades ago scientists discovered the potential nutrient that had been nearly forgotten: choline. Choline was first discovered in 1862, and in 1998 the Institute of Medicine revealed that choline is actually essential for optimal health. A very small amount is produced by your body, and therefore must come from an outside source. Your liver produces a small portion of choline, but the rest has to come from the food you eat. According to Netherlands-based health information authority, WellWise.org an estimated 90% of the US population is deficient in choline.
This nutrient is sometimes grouped with vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12) as the function, such as how your liver, brain, muscles, nervous system and overall metabolism work, and also helps maintain optimal health and stave off disease. Studies show that higher choline intake is linked to a decreased heart disease risk as well as a 24% decreased breast cancer risk among 1,508 women studied. Here are some ways this nutrient performs through your body:
- Cell messaging, by producing cell-messaging compounds.
- Cell structure, making fats to support your cell membrane composition.
- Fat transport and metabolism, as choline is needed to carry cholesterol from your liver, and a choline deficiency could result in excess fat and cholesterol buildup.
- DNA synthesis, aiding in the process along with other vitamins, such as folate and vitamin B12.
- Nervous system health, because choline is necessary for making acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in healthy muscle, heart and memory performance.
Doctors have told us not to eat egg yolks because of all the cholesterol and saturated fat, but those things are good for you.One hard-boiled egg contains 113 milligrams of choline or almost 25% of your daily requirement. Grass-fed meat, wild-caught, non-polluted fish, vegetables such as cauliflower and healthy fats and oils are all other good sources of choline.
Norway conducted a study in 2011 that found 69 choline-containing phospholipids are found in krill oil. The prevalent phosphatidylcholine class contained 69 choline-containing phospholipids and 60 phosphatidylcholine substances. Phosphatidylcholine may:
- Help optimize cholesterol
- Protect against liver disease including hepatitis
- Help alcoholics prevent cirrhosis
- Reduce digestive tract inflammation
- Lessen symptoms of ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome
It has been shown through a study that 77% of men and 80% of postmenopausal women suffered either fatty liver or muscle damage, but when getting enough choline, the symptoms disappeared. A study also showed that decreased choline intake significantly increased symptoms of 664 people with non-alcoholic liver disease, including fibrosis, which is the thickening and scarring of connective tissue. Choline deficiency risk is higher for athletes, high alcohol consumers, postmenopausal women and vegetarians. Research is showing choline to be a groundbreaking nutrient and is also required for DNA synthesis and crucial for optimal brain development and function.
Be sure you aren’t getting too much choline as it has been linked to a few unpleasant or harmful side effects such as sweating, nausea, vomiting, body odor and lowered blood pressure. Get your choline from food sources as much as possible and it’s unlikely you’ll be getting too much.
–Dr Fredda Branyon