What is Choline? Why do I need it?
Choline is a necessary macronutrient that the FDA has recently added to the food labels. Choline supports several body functions including:
- Boosting metabolism
- Making the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine for the brain cognition
- Protecting Heart health by reducing homocysteine which is one of the predictive markers for heart disease
- Improves metabolism of fat, improving liver function
- Energy production
This nutrient is not difficult to find in food, but some people (up to 50%) seem to have genes that increase dietary methyl requirements, and since choline is a major source of methyl processes, this can result in a choline deficiency.
Symptoms of a choline deficiency may possibly include:
- low energy levels or fatigue
- memory loss
- cognitive decline
- learning disabilities
- muscle aches
- nerve damage
- mood changes or disorders
It is important to note that choline is a cofactor of folate and several B vitamins, so a deficiency will effect your use of folate, but conversely, obtaining enough folate from food sources may reduce your requirements for choline as the body can use the folate in similar processes.
The foods highest in choline are:
1. Beef liver (51% of Daily Value)
2. Salmon (44% of Daily Value)
3. Chickpeas (36% of Daily Value)
4. Split peas (34% of Daily Value)
5. Navy beans (32% of Daily Value)
6. Egg (27% of Daily Value)
7. Grass-fed beef (14% of Daily Value)
8. Turkey (10% of Daily Value)
9. Chicken Breast (9% of Daily Value)
10. Cauliflower (8% of Daily Value)
11. Brussel sprouts (3% of Daily Value)
Eating enough choline is not difficult if you are not a vegetarian, and taking the supplement is not necessary unless you have genetic testing and you are not methylating well due to choline deficiency. For vegetarians, I would recommend seeing your doctor to have this supplement added, but would not advise self administering this nutrient, as overdosing is possible.
Also, adding choline rich foods to your diet is only half of the picture, you also need to ensure you are eating enough foods high in folate. Folate is most bioavailable in leafy greens, avocados, beets, broccoli and cauliflower, oranges and papayas, asparagus, bell peppers and nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, and flaxseeds.