Our understanding of nutrition and the human body is ever-expanding. We now know things that even several years ago were fantasy to us – just take the human microbiome as an example!
One such nutrient that hasn’t been on the radar of the general public for very long is choline.
Choline is a member of the B-Vitamin family(though not the immediate family- it’s more like a cousin!) and plays many key roles in our health. While it may be new to many of us, choline was first identified in the 1860s, and has been studied extensively since then for its role in a variety of processes in the body. While not considered a vitamin, in 1998 the Institute of Medicine identified it as an essential nutrient (meaning it needs to be obtained through diet and can’t be synthesized by the body), making the fact that an estimated 90% of Americans fail to meet adequate intake for choline pretty staggering.
What does it do?
Choline is necessary for the structural integrity of our cells, the proper functioning of the liver, heart health, and perhaps most notably, has a vital role in our cognitive health.*
According to Doctor Tieraona Low Dog, MegaFood Partner and author of Fortify Your Life, choline is “part of the brains messaging system and is critical for the production of neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, that play a key role in memory, cognition, and muscle control,*” (1). For this reason, choline is especially critical during pregnancy and breastfeeding, where it is involved, like folate, in preventing certain birth defects and supporting brain and cognitive development.*
The liver is another organ that is impacted by choline. Choline is involved in transporting fat and cholesterol away from the liver to tissues that need them. When choline levels are critically low, fat can build up in the liver, impacting its ability to detoxify our bodies. Yikes!
The Optimal Source
So how can you get more of this vital nutrient in your diet? Turns out, it’s tricky. Ideally, you’d get between 425-550 mgs of choline daily. The highest sources of dietary choline are in organ meats, which are not traditional fare on most American’s table, though one serving of beef liver provides 400mg. The next best source? The humble egg.
Eggs have been on a roller coaster ride over the last several decades when it comes to public approval. They have gone from healthy breakfast option to public enemy number one and back again. But just two hard-boiled eggs provides 250 to 300mg of choline! The key? The yolk! If you’re eating an egg-white omelet for breakfast, then you’re missing the vital nourishment the yolk has to offer, including choline.
Follow a plant-based diet or want to ensure you’re getting enough? Look for a multivitamin, such as any of our Doctor-Formulated multis, that contain this important – but often overlooked – nutrient, and get to minding the choline gap!