Dr. Emma Derbyshire published a great article in the Journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health on the essential nutrient Choline and it’s potential for deficiency in the UK diet:
New Scientist ran an article on the 23 October 2019 on the important findings in this Journal entry. A summary of the important points appears below:
- Choline was discovered in 1862 and plays many major roles in the body including making up cell membranes, liver fat metabolism and production of the nerve signalling molecule acetylcholine.
- Studies in the 1980’s proved that our bodies produce a baseline amount of choline but that we don’t produce enough choline for our bodies needs. Dietary sources of choline are required to bridge the difference between what our bodies produce and what we actually need. Choline is therefore an “essential nutrient” (similar to Omega 3 and Vitamin C).
- The 1998 US Institute of Medicine advice with regard to Choline – is to consume 550 mg / day for men and 425 mg / day for women (more if pregnant as developing babies need it too).
- Most of us are getting nowhere near the 1998 daily guidelines amount from our diet (average daily intakes range at 260-470 mg per day). However it is still not clear if the 1998 recommendations are too high. That said some people may need more than others due to a gene variant which means their bodies make less as a baseline.
- Those following a Vegan diet run the risk of being deficient in Choline as red meat and eggs are the best sources for this essential nutrient.
- Studies in mice (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/acel.13037) have suggested that higher choline intake in adulthood staves off the effects of dementia.
- Beef liver, eggs and steak are the top 3 sources of choline (although sunflower and soy lecithin powder/granules also contain high levels). 100g of Beef/Calves liver, or 4 large hard boiled eggs, or a 420g slice of steak, or 14g (around 2 tablespoons) of Soy/Sunflower Lecithin Granules provides the entire daily requirement for a woman (425 mg). For a man you would need to increase the aforementioned by 30%.
- Another option (especially for vegans) is to take choline supplements (just search on Amazon).