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Choline For Brain Health

Updated on October 31, 2014

Choline is an essential nutrient that is associated with the B vitamins. Other sources say that it is officially classified as one of the Vitamin B complex. However, it is not assigned with any subscript numbers. But, like many of the Vitamin B complex, it is water soluble which means that it should be replenished on a daily basis.

Choline is a nutrient that is important for brain development and maintenance. It is especially important for foetuses and infants for the proper and normal development of their brains. For adults, it is an equally important nutrient for the maintenance of brain health and to prevent memory loss.

Aside from brain health, choline is a nutrient that can be found abundantly in healthy pancreas and liver. Without the presence of choline, the pancreas and liver will not function properly.

How Important Is Choline?

First things first. Before anything else, it must be mentioned that choline is an important nutrient for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It helps prevent neural tube defects in developing foetuses and helps promote healthy brain development in newborn babies. It is most probably the reason why milk that are formulated for pregnant women and for babies are supplemented richly with choline.

The importance of choline does not contain itself in brain development and function only. Choline has fat modifying properties that allow the fats in our body to be converted into energy. Choline protects our liver from accumulating fats. It also helps control cholesterol levels and homocysteine levels.

Without choline, the body is unable to use fats as its source of energy. If the fats are not efficiently converted into energy, there will be fat buildup in the body hence, will cause many health problems.

How Does Choline Really Work?

Choline is a nutrient that is contained in lipids (fats) in the body. The brain contains a high amount of lipids to function well and because choline is primarily a nutrient that is included in lipids, the human brain needs to contain a generous amount of lipids with choline to stay healthy.

Choline is a key nutrient of the body’s neurotransmitter. A neurotransmitter is located in the nervous system and its primary function is to send messages from one nerve to another. It also helps the nerves control the body’s muscles. With adequate choline in the body, the nerve’s communication with each other will be more efficient and the nerve’s control of the body’s muscles will also become more efficient.

Choline prevents the buildup of homocysteine levels in the body primarily because it helps convert homocysteine into other substances. High homocysteine levels in the body have proved to be responsible for many cardiovascular problems, stroke, blood clot, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Somehow, chronic inflammation of the body can also become a problem for people with high homocysteine levels.

How Does Choline Help A Person In General?

It has been found that choline helps with the development of learning abilities and memory functioning. It can also help maintain a healthy liver.

Can Choline Be Used As Treatment Of Any Disease?

Choline can only be used as a supplement and has no therapeutic claims. However, it is a safe supplement and can be beneficial for people who have the following problems:

People who may start to have neurological problems. It can help reverse the effects of neurological problems such as Alzheimer’s disease and others like it. Choline also protects the liver from damage and can help repair liver damage that has already occurred.

According to some research, choline may be helpful in protecting against some diseases such as:

  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver diseases
  • Kidney problems
  • High cholesterol
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Many other diseases that affect the brain and its functions

Can Early Signs And Symptoms Be Detected If A Person Needs A High Choline Diet?

Yes. A person may need high choline foods if the following problems occur. It may be a sign or a symptom that this person has an inadequate amount of choline in his body:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems
  • Poor functioning of kidneys
  • Liver problems
  • Accumulation of fats in the blood
  • High cholesterol
  • Nerve and muscle problems

Extreme Deficiencies Of Choline Can Result In The Following Problems:

  • Cardiovascular problems and diseases
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Kidney failure
  • Impaired growth in children and young adults
  • Abnormalities of bone formation
  • Lack of red blood cells
  • Infertility
  • Increased triglycerides
  • Respiratory problems
  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure

Are There Contributing Factors That Can Cause Choline Deficiencies?

Yes. Having liver and kidney problems may contribute to choline deficiency. People who have other ailments and are currently taking medications for their ailments may decrease their chances of absorbing choline in their body.

In other areas, a person must have enough nutrients of these compounds: Vitamin B3, folic acid, and the amino acid “methionine”. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can result in a deficiency in choline also. Why? Because choline basically cannot work alone, having a sufficient amount of choline in the body will not be enough if the person is deficient in any of these nutrients. Choline can only work out its full potential with the help of these three nutrients.

Risks Associated with Too Much Choline:

  • Fishy body odor
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Increased salivation
  • Feeling of dizziness and faintness

Food Sources That Are Rich in Choline:

  • A mother's milk has high levels of choline if and when the mother is healthy
  • The richest source of choline that is contained in many products is lecithin. Lecithin is usually added in many commercially produced edible products.
  • Milk, particularly milk for pregnant women, babies, toddlers, and growing children must contain a generous amount of choline.
  • Soybeans and soybean products
  • Butter
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Oats
  • Banana
  • Orange
  • Corn
  • Sesame seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Wheat bread

Food Sources That Are Rich in Choline with Nutritional Facts:

Abundance of Choline
Beef liver
100 grams (3.5 oz)
very high (about 410 mg more or less)
Pork liver
100 grams (3.5 oz)
very high (about 300 mg or more)
Chicken liver
100 grams (3.5 oz)
very high (about 300 mg or more)
high (about 120 mg more or less)
hard boiled eggs may give the maximum choline content. Scrambled eggs and fried eggs may have a reduced amount of choline due to frying and heating.
Ground beef
100 grams (3.5 oz)
medium (about 80 mg more or less)
about 80% lean meat and 20% fats
Beef meat
100 grams (3.5 oz)
high (about 110 mg)
boiled and steamed beef may give the maximum choline content.
Pork meat
100 grams (3.5 0z)
high (about 110 mg)
boiled and steamed pork may give the maximum choline content. Sauteed and fried pork may have lesser choline because of the meat's exposure to extreme heat.
Chicken meat
100 grams (3.5 0z)
high (about 110 mg)
boiled and steamed chicken may give the maximum choline content. Sauteed chicken may have fewer choline and fried chicken may give even lesser choline benefits.
1 cup
medium (about 60 mg)
1 cup
medium (about 60 mg)
Brussel sprouts
1 cup
medium (about 60 mg)
100 grams (3.5 oz)
low (about 20 mg more or less)
Peanut butter
2 tbsp
low (about 20 mg)
100 grams (3.5 oz)
medium (about 60 mg more or less)
nuts such as almonds, peanuts, pecans, macadamia, pistachios, cashews, etc. Different nuts may have different choline content.
100 grams (3.5 oz)
high (about 90 mg more or less)
fresh salmons may give the maximum benefit of choline compared to canned products
100 grams (3.5 oz)
medium (about 50 mg more or less)
different kinds of fish may give different choline content. Freshness of fish may also be a factor in determining its choline benefits.
100 grams (3.5 oz)
medium (about 60 mg more or less)
freshness of shrimp may be an issue in determining its choline content


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    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 4 years ago

      Hi Quicksand, I agree, it's really not hard to get this nutrient at all 'coz it's available in almost any of our favorite foods. Nonetheless, some people still suffer from lack of choline.

      I'm good Quicksand, hope you are too. Thanks for dropping by. :)

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 4 years ago

      Hi Beats! How are you doing?

      Looks a diet followed by anyone concerned about his health will provide most of the Choline one needs. What I mean to say is, it's not all that difficult to switch to such a diet.

      Thanks for sharing what you have discovered. This is the very first time I am hearing about Choline!

      Cheers and good wishes!

    • BeatsMe profile image

      BeatsMe 4 years ago

      Hi Nell, thanks so much for dropping by and for sharing. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi BeatsMe, I had never heard of Choline before so this was fascinating reading, thanks and voted up and shared! nell