While it does not fit under the standard category of “vitamin,” choline is an essential micronutrient that your body needs to flourish, nonetheless. Healthy liver function and brain development are dependent upon choline, and therefore it is especially crucial for pregnant women to pay attention to their choline levels. As a neurotransmitter precursor, choline is required for cell membranes to function effectively and properly, and it also plays a paramount role in reducing blood levels of homocysteine and inflammation. In addition, choline is critical for producing certain key compounds in the brain and contributing to nerve communications. However, choline may also be beneficial for athletes, strength trainers and endurance athletes in particular. Let's take a closer look at some reasons why choline is so critical for a healthy body and mind, and find ways to boost your intake.
Signs of Deficiency
Without a healthy choline intake from your diet, you might experience certain symptoms of a deficiency. Since it impacts your brain, lower-than-normal levels of choline may manifest in problems with focus, concentration and memory, possibly even dementia, according to Dr. Weil. Another reason it's important to keep up your choline levels is because a lack of choline in the diet is associated with fatty liver disease. Insufficient choline in pregnant women may contribute to certain birth defects and abnormal brain development. In order to avoid experiencing any problems due to a choline deficiency, men should strive to receive at least 550 milligrams of choline per day, and women should aim for about 425 milligrams—recommendations which are in alignment with guidelines set the by National Academy of Sciences.
Food Sources of Choline
Your choline levels are typically based on the foods in your diet, with certain ones being particularly rich with the nutrient in the form of phosphatidylcholine. One of the most popular sources of choline is eggs; beef and chicken liver, broccoli, wheat germ, cod, shrimp and salmon also possess significant amounts of choline. To give you a better idea about what the recommended dose of choline looks like, three ounces of pan-fried beef liver equals about 355 mg of choline, and one large egg contains about 126 mg.
While most of the choline in your body is absorbed from your diet, supplemental choline can also provide support. If you're not a fan of liver or eggs, or any of the other foods mentioned above, taking a choline supplement can help support healthy liver function and promote great cardiovascular function by reducing blood homocysteine. In addition, choline supplements can provide support for your brain and might even benefit certain types of athletes. As reported from one study on college basketball players from Harvard, Holy Cross and Northeastern University, drinking a combination of fruit juice with 2.43 grams of choline bitartrate before practice and in the middle of practice was correlated with an increase in vigor, energy and a reduction in fatigue. Additionally, choline supplementation may benefit those who run marathons, as the level of choline in the blood tends to decrease after intensely exerting yourself for about two hours. While taking a choline supplement doesn't automatically mean that you'll experience faster running and boosted endurance, it might be able to help a bit.
Before taking choline supplements, it's important to realize that high levels of choline might cause diarrhea, flatulence and fishy body odor. Choline is essential for children, teenagers and adults of all ages, and especially important for pregnant women, so it's important you know the correct amount you should be taking. For more choline intake guidelines, check out this information from Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health.
At eVitamins we have a variety of choline supplements and other wellness essentials to help you live a healthy life. Thanks for reading, and make sure to check back with us next week for more healthy living news!