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Choline for Brain Health

Updated on June 20, 2011

Why is choline important for health? Choline is the precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. That means that choline is one of the building blocks for the neurotransmitter.

How important is acetylcholine? Very important. It is a major neurotransmitter. Granted, we have many different neurotransmitters, all of which are important. But acetylcholine is major. It is responsible for memory, motor function, and autonomic nervous system activities (such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, and your other organ functions). That's how major it is.

Dr. Daniel Amen writes ...

"those deficient in acetylcholine may develop Alzheimer's disease and dementia; therefore choline supplementation may be helpful in preventing the onset of these neurological disorders." [page 326 of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body]

Choline can be found in lecithin which are derived from soy or egg yolks. A good food source of choline is eggs. In particular, it is in the egg yolk.

B vitamins also plays a role in producing the important acetylcholine neurotransmitter as well as reducing the amino acid homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk of Alzheimer's.[reference]

Choline Building Block

Choline is also a building block for phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine? What's that?

Phosphatidylcholine (or PC) is a phospholipids (a type of fat) that is part of your cell membranes. Phosphatidylcholine is the most abundant molecule in your cell membrane. So we need lots of this building block.

Dr. Amen writes ...

"considering that the breakdown of cell membranes leads to neuronal death, replenishing these vital components of the membrane is a proactive step you can take to help prevent Alzheimer's disease." [page 326 Change your Brain, Change your Body]

Dr. Khalsa writes ...

"Choline is also of special importance, because it is the nutritional precursor, or "building block," of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine -- the primary "carrier" of memory. ... In one study, patients with memory loss experienced up to 50% improvement to some choline supplementation." [page 51 of Brain Longevity]

Choline also helps maintain brain plasticity. How?

Choline protects and restores the dendrites of your brain cells. The dendrites are the tiny branches that comes out of your neurons that connect us to other neurons. These branches are the basis for how cells in your brain communicate with each other.

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