Choline is an essential nutrient and a major dietary requirement in the body. This nutrient is necessary for healthy cell growth and good metabolic health. Get the gist about choline to avoid the deficiency complications of this nutrient.
It was not until 1998 that modern medicine acknowledged choline as a key dietary requirement. This is an essential nutrient that’s essential for metabolism and regular cellular growth. Of course, the body naturally produces some choline. However, this is not enough to support it, and the dietary input supplement’s the body’s choline production. Sadly, most people do not get enough of this crucial nutrient. Learn everything about choline, including the foods that boost its content, its daily recommended value, and to counter its deficiency.
What is choline?
Choline is an essential nutrient in the body required for the body’s functionality and health, just like vitamins, fats, carbs, and vitamins. In the body, it holds a striking similarity to vitamin B, yet it’s not a vitamin or a mineral. However, it’s placed in the same category of vitamin B since it’s similar to them. In 1998, the Institute of Medicine acknowledged choline as an essential nutrient. Before then, it was not being recognized as a primary nutrient. There are two classes of choline; fat-soluble choline molecules and water-soluble choline molecules. While the fat-soluble molecules come from the body, the water-soluble choline originates from a person’s diet. The means of transportation and the mode of absorption of choline molecules also differ depending on the form they exist in, whether fat-soluble form or water-soluble form. The fat-soluble molecules are moved to the liver where their absorption occurs, whereas water-soluble molecules are carried along the alimentary canal to the gastrointestinal tract, where they get absorbed. Since it is an essential mineral, choline is needed in the right amounts for optimal functionality of the body.
Health benefits associated with choline
Many studies have been conducted around choline since its acknowledgment in 1998. Since then, other lines of research have been done, and they have revealed a great potential in choline. Choline is needed for several vital body functions and other health benefits. Here are some of the health benefits you can be sure to enjoy from choline consumption;
i. Improved memory
Research has shown that people with higher levels have a better memory than those with lower choline levels. The former can remember things better and faster. In one study in which a group of people was given 1,000mg of choline for some time, positive results were recorded in which the individuals had better verbal memory and could process information much faster.
ii. Good heart health
Several studies have confirmed that choline is good for improved heart health. A study conducted in 2018 recorded reduced cases of ischemic strokes in individuals who were on choline supplements for three months. This research is reliable since the sample group consisted of Africans and Americans, and the research was conducted for an extensive period of nine years.
iii. Can help boost mental health
Some studies have suggested that higher choline levels can improve mental health and treat some mental disorders. For instance, several studies have found promising results in using choline supplements to manage mania and bipolar. Other suggestions link choline to bettering of mood disorders. However, the studies in this area are limited, and there is a need for further research before recommending choline for helping with mental health.
iv. Metabolic boost
Some small studies suggest that choline could help boost metabolism. In that study, female athletes were put on choline supplements and compared to other athletes on leptin hormone. At the end of the study, the group taking choline supplements recorded a lower BMI value than the leptin group.
v. Brain development
This area has limited studies and requires further research. However, one study showed that taking choline during could help fetuses develop better brain capabilities. Still, the study admitted that however much a pregnant woman took choline during pregnancy, that would not better the child’s brain functionality and abilities when he gets to three years. Further research in this section can help clear such doubts.
vi. Helping with cystic fibrosis
Some studies have shown that men who took choline supplements had reduced cystic fibrosis symptoms. This is so because choline can improve lung functionality, hence the observation. Still, more studies are required to confirm this.
vii. Cancer management
Choline is thought to have anti-cancer properties. In some studies, women with low choline had an increased risk of contracting cancer. At the same time, another research showed that more choline levels reduced the chances of getting breast cancer by 24%. This area requires further studies since some studies suggest that excess choline levels increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
Choline: Dosage and Deficiency
The dosage for choline varies with age. The National Institute of Health came up with the following breakdown for the recommended daily choline intake;
- 1–8years: 1g/day
- 9–13years: 2g/per day
- 14–18years: 3g/day
- 19+ year: 3.5/day
Choline deficiency is a real problem that occurs due to various factors, including pregnancy, age, lactation, and genetic disorders. Since choline levels often go down during pregnancy, a person needs to supplement choline intake during this time. The next section covers the sources of choline nutrients.
Sources of choline
Doctors can use blood samples to determine the amount of choline in the body. Should you be deficient in choline, knowing the right foods to eat will help you boost your choline levels. Still, eating these foods will help you reap the many health benefits associated with choline. Such foods include nuts and seeds (e.g., almonds, hazelnuts & Brazil nuts), vegetables (e.g., kales, spinach & tomato), whole grains (e.g., quinoa, rice &oats), and proteins (e.g., soybeans, beef & poultry). Infants may often suffer choline deficiency. However, breast milk, supplemented with milk formula, helps meet these needs.
In 1998, the Institute of Medicine acknowledged choline as an essential nutrient. Since then, choline has been studied widely. This blog reveals some of the study results, sharing all you need to know about choline. Still, some areas require further studies to clear some doubts and allow clarity.
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