Choline is an essential nutrient that helps synthesize components in your cells that help maintain and preserve their structural integrity. It is also needed to produce acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps with memory, muscle control (and nervous system functions), mood, and liver function. It’s not a vitamin or a mineral, it’s an organic, water-soluble compound–but it is often grouped with vitamin B due to some similarities between the two.
It was discovered as a nutrient in the 1930s, but wasn’t listed as a recommendation for human diets by the US National Academy of Medicine until 1998. Your body produces some choline naturally in the liver, but it’s not enough to meet your metabolic needs; therefore, it’s essential to obtain the lacking choline through your diet and supplements.
The necessary amount of choline varies from person to person to some extent (based on age and gender), but premenopausal women may need less than other adults and children but estrogen induces the gene that helps your body synthesize choline. In general, the adequate intake of choline is 425 mg per day for women and 550 mg per day for men–and these amounts vary for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Keep in mind that these requirements may vary depending on the individual–while some need less choline, others may need more than these intake amounts.
With that said, it’s important to balance your diet with foods that are rich in choline. Here’s a list of some food sources with decent amounts of choline. You can view the full list here:
Beef Liver – 356 mg of choline per 3 oz.
Beef – 97 mg per 3 oz. (trim cut)
Chicken – 73 mg per 3 oz (roasted breast)
Fish & Seafood
Scallops – 94 mg of choline per 3 oz. (steamed)
Salmon – 75 mg per 3 oz.
Atlantic Cod – 71 mg per 3 oz.
Vegetables & Grains
Toasted Wheat Germ – 202 mg of choline per 1 cup
Brussel Sprouts – 63 mg per 1 cup (boiled)
Broccoli – 63 mg per 1 cup (chopped, boiled)
Eggs – 1 large egg contains about 147 mg of choline, so if you start the morning off with two eggs you’ve already consumed almost half of your recommended daily intake – most of the choline is in the egg yolks, though–so be sure not eat them and not just egg whites.
Choline levels are not routinely checked in healthy people, but if you experienced muscle twitching, brain fog, trouble with attention or learning, wild mood swings, or tingling nerves, you might need more choline in your diet. Vegetarians who eat no meat or eggs may be at a higher risk for insufficient chlorine intake.
In addition to improving your diet, you can also take choline supplements or consume choline through vitamin cocktail injections. If you suspect you may have a choline deficit, or a deficit of any essential vitamins or nutrients, come visit us today! We can help ensure you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients you need so you can look and feel your best year-round. Give us a call or reach out on our contact form–we look forward to hearing from you!