Choline: The BrainPower Building Block

Choline is an essential nutrient that is a part of cellular growth and metabolism and as such is necessary for a number of bodily processes. For today’s discussion, it is functionally a brainpower building block. How is that so? And what does it mean? Let’s take a look. 

 

Choline May Protect Against Cognitive Decline

Choline is a precursor of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in memory and other cognitive functions. As a result, choline is essential for brain function and performance. It might also preserve these functions as we age.

 

Scientists looking into this hypothesis pulled data from 3224 participants of the Framingham Heart Study and found a strong association between choline deficiency and neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimers and dementia. 

Further studies have found that supplementing choline as in VitaBrain led to improved short term and long term memory in adults with poor memory.*

 

Supports Childhood Brain Development

Choline is important for us even before we’re born because it’s essential in the development of our brain, spinal cord, and nervous systems in utero. After we’re born, there’s natural choline found in breast milk which is important for further brain development. With this in mind, expecting mothers should take care to avoid a deficiency although it is rare to experience one. 

In studies on rats, maternal choline deficiencies during late stages of pregnancy (when the hippocampus forms) led to decreased hippocampal function and altered memory in the adult rodent. 

 

Choline and Mood Health

The neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which the body synthesizes from choline, also plays a role in mood regulation. A study on men and women from ages 46-74, found a strong link between low-choline levels and anxiety with a weaker link between choline and depression. 

 

Additional Choline Benefits

 

Supports Healthy Liver Function

Choline plays an important role in lipid transport and in this role, it helps to remove fat and cholesterol from the liver. Insufficient choline levels can inhibit this function, leading to fatty liver deposits and liver damage if this problem persists. 

A study on people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease found an association between low choline intake and the severity of their condition. 

 

Choline Supports Bette Heart Health

Although there’s a slight resemblance between the word choline and cholesterol, it seems to actually have positive effects on heart health. 

Choline and folate help to convert homocysteine to methionine. A deficiency in either folate or choline can lead to homocysteine accumulation which contributes to greater heart attack or stroke risk. 

 

Food Sources of Choline

Organ Meats: Beef and chicken liver are both very rich in choline although there is reason to limit the amount of either that you consume.  Beef liver alone provides 425 mg of choline per 100 grams which is 100% of the RDI for women and 77% of the RDI for men. 

Poultry: Chicken and turkey can choline along with quality lean protein. 100 grams of chicken breast for example provides 84 mg of choline

Eggs: 1 whole egg provides 147 mg of choline. 

Fish: A variety of fish are rich in choline as well. A 3 oz portion of salmon provides 187 mg of choline.  

Mushrooms: While rich choline sources tend to be animal based you can get it elsewhere. 1 cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms has 116 mg of choline or 21% of your RDI. 

Cruciferous vegetables: When it comes to plant-based sources, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower provide 72 mg per cup (160 grams cooked) and Brussels sprouts provide 30 mg per cup. 

 

Supplements

You can find it in multiple forms such as plain choline supplements or functional blends like VitaBrain, which combines choline with other brain boosting ingredients like ginkgo biloba, huperzia serrata and RoseOx. 

 

Bottom Line

Choline is an essential nutrient that might not be the household name that others like calcium or b12 are, but it is no less important. It’s a major part of brain development, learning, memory and cognitive preservation. 

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.