Choline the next big player in achieving optimal performance and health
by Ashleigh Feltham
Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist
Most people know about B vitamins being important for health and energy, just think about brands like Berocca and Vegemite which push the need for these vitamins regularly in their advertising campaigns. Choline is a close relative of B vitamins but remains an outsider so to speak because it doesn’t completely fit into this group.
This often-forgotten water-soluble nutrient has an important role to play and is vital to your health, through all life stages from birth until death.
Choline plays an important role in the following developmental functions in the body :
- Brain development
- Forming your cell wall components
- Creating the cholesterol in your blood (the good not just the bad) which allows it to move around your body as it should.
- Allowing your cells to signal effectively to one another by helping to create the neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine. This is important for your whole body to function properly assisting the nervous system, including muscle control.
Having adequate choline in your diet may mean that you may be at a lower risk of developing conditions such as:
- Neural tube defects
- Coronary artery disease (because choline assists with the healthy formation and movement of cholesterol around your body.)
- A meta-analysis of a number of studies has found that consuming adequate choline reduced cancer risk, although, like many things in nutrition, more research is needed.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cystic fibrosis
If this is not enough to convince you that choline is important, there are further benefits of choline. Adequate choline in your diet can improve both your memory and mood. Studies have shown that in the third trimester of pregnancy if a mother has optimal amounts of choline in her diet, her child’s IQ is enhanced. The benefits of having adequate choline continue to have positive effects on your brain into adulthood.
How much do you need?
Good news is your body produces some choline as phosphatidylcholine but this is not enough for you to maintain your health. Adult men over 19 years and breastfeeding women need 550mg/day, adult women over 19 years need 425mg/day and pregnancy increases this amount to 450mg/day.
Seafood is included as some of the top whole food sources of choline including:
- Tuna 112g provides 147mg of choline
- Salmon 112g provide 157.6mg of choline
- Sardines 89.6g provide 188mg of choline
All three of these varieties of fish are available from Safcol which is great news for your health and taste buds!
Take home message:
You have a head start on the competition knowing about the health benefits of this forgotten nutrient. It won’t be too long before you see the food industry picking up on the need to get enough of this vitamin-like compound in your daily diet.
- Hollenbeck CB. An introduction to the nutrition and metabolism of choline. Central nervous system agents in medicinal chemistry. 2012;12(2):100-13.
- National Institute of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
- Sun S, Li X, Ren A, Du M, Du H, Shu Y, et al. Choline and betaine consumption lowers cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. Scientific Reports. 2016;6(1):35547.
- World’s Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=50. 2019.