The National Health Examination Survey (NHANES)—an ongoing, government-led initiative to assess the nutritional status of Americans—has found that a whopping 90% of children, adults, and women are choline-deficient. NHANES data reveals that mean daily intake of choline is 396 mg for men and 260 mg for women; however, the adequate daily intake levels for choline are 550 mg for men, 425 mg for women, 450 mg for pregnant women, and 550 mg for breastfeeding women. Similarly, the Nurses’ Health Study—a long-term study of women’s health—tracked 238,000 women and found that even women who consumed the most choline (95th percentile) did not meet the recommended intake levels. Further, research reported on the website, NutraIngredients-USA, shows that up to 50% of the population may have genetic variations that could increase their need for choline. So why is choline so important? Here are some ways that choline can have a significant impact on your health:
Choline deficiency can lead to fatty liver disease and increases the risk of neural tube defects.
In animal studies, choline supplementation during pregnancy leads to positive lifelong changes in the brain of offspring.
Some studies (though not all) have found that choline supplements in the form of lecithin improve memory and cognitive function in people with memory problems and Alzheimer’s.
Other data has found associations between higher choline intakes and reduced inflammation, as well as between higher choline levels and reduced liver damage from toxins.
Choline can be found in some foods and supplements; good dietary sources include eggs, soybeans, and organ meats. Supplements that contain choline include lecithin, phosphatidylcholine, and some vitamin products.