Choline and Your Heart Health

Health Professional

Are you even familiar with the B vitamin choline? There is a good chance you are not. The Institute of Medicine didn't even establish a dietary reference intake for this nutrient until 1998.

Choline, like magnesium, plays a role in just about every bodily system. Two compounds are derived from choline - acetylcholine and lecithin. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter for the peripheral and central nervous systems. Acetylcholine may protect again certain age-related dementias. Lecithin is a more generic term encompassing yellowish-brown fat tissue.

Choline Sources

The body can produce choline in small amounts, but not in large enough quantities to support good health. You must consume choline from dietary sources. Choline can be found in many foods, such as:

Beef - 67 mg choline per 3 ounces

Egg - 172 mg per egg

Peanut butter - 20 mg per 2 Tbsp

Salmon - 56 mg per 3 ounces

Broccoli - 62 mg per 1 cup

Choline Functions

There are many bodily functions that require choline, such as:

Fat metabolism (synthesis of phospholipids)

Movement and coordination (compound of neurotransmitters)

Cell membrane component

Lowers LDL Cholesterol

Precursor to acetylcholine (neurotransmitter impacting memory)

Normal brain function

Choline Deficiency

Symptoms associated with choline deficiency include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and nervous system disorders.   Choline deficiency consistently leads to fatty liver disease, which can cause inflammation and scarring of the liver.

Excess alcohol consumption, high sugar intake, low folic acid intake, and nicotine can all contribute to a choline deficiency.

How much do you need?

It's currently recommended you consume 400-500 mg daily. Choline is a B vitamin, which means it is water soluble and travels through the system quickly. If you require a choline supplement, it would be best to divide the supplement and take twice a day. However, if you are deficient, my first recommendation is to look at the foods in your diet and increase your intake of sources high in choline.

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