There are several nutrients roaming and working in our body. None of them have you seen at work but every one of vitamin, minerals, and other nutrients are vital in keeping the balance and harmony of the function of the body.
Including to this vital and seems invisible nutrients is choline.
What is Choline?
Choline is a nutrient. Due to its similarities with vitamin B complex, it is sometimes grouped with them. But you cannot categorize choline under vitamins or minerals because it is actually an organic compound and is water-soluble in nature.
In 1998, the Institute of Medicine acknowledges the nutrient as a necessity.
The human body has the ability to produce choline. It is produced in the liver. However, it is not enough. Meaning, the amount of choline produced by your liver is not sufficient for the total body function and human health. The good thing is we can be supplied with this nutrient from eating food that contains the nutrient.
Having an adequate amount of this essential nutrient in the body can impact your metabolism, liver function, muscle movement, nervous system, and brain development.
Choline’s Function in the Different Parts of the Body
Since vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients work invisibly in the body, you may not notice how vital they are for the body. Choline, too! It has an important role in the function of the body which includes:
- Fat Transport and Metabolism – It is responsible for transferring the fats and removing the cholesterol from your liver. If your body does not contain enough choline, your liver may be full of unnecessary fat and cholesterol.
- Cell Structure – this nutrient has a role in supporting the cell structure of the cell membranes.
- Cell Messaging – Passing a message is also the job for choline. It does this by producing a compound that serves as the cell messenger.
- A Healthy Nervous System – Acetylcholine is one of the neurotransmitters in the nervous system. It is vital for the basic functions of the body such as muscle movement, memory, and regulating heartbeat. And choline is needed when the body makes acetylcholine.
- DNA synthesis – The process of synthesizing DNA requires the presence of vitamins B12 and folate. Additionally, choline is also needed in the process.
How Much Does Your Body Need?
There is no sufficient evidence to determine the exact reference daily intake (RDI) for an individual. Nevertheless, an adequate intake (AI) value is set by the Institute of Medicine. The target audience of the said value is directed to healthy people. The AI value will let them prevent the possible negative results of not having enough choline in the body. Say, liver damage. Thus, the value is not standard and it can differ depending on the genetic makeup and gender of an individual.
Furthermore, the amount of choline in a certain food is unknown. Even its very presence in food is hard to tell.
Categorized in age brackets, here are the choline suggested AI values:
Remember that the figure is not standard. Some people are fine with less supply of this nutrient while some have to take more. In fact, a study is conducted based on the figures given above. They found out that even after following the recommended AI, some men still developed choline deficiency symptoms.
What are the Uses of Choline?
Choline can be found in food such as eggs, fish, spinach, peas, beans, nuts, wheat germ, liver, and muscle meats. But supplements are also available nowadays.
Usually, it is used with conditions such as liver disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, depression, Huntington’s chorea, Tourette’s disease, and schizophrenia. But this claim requires further research and evidence to be supported.
But aside from these conditions, choline supplements are popular among athletes for bodybuilding. They also use it to delay the feeling of tiredness during endurance sports. Like the conditions mentioned above, the effect of this nutrient in athletes needs further studies.
It also has an effect on pregnant women that they take it during pregnancy. Mothers even add it in infant formulas once their babies are out from the womb and ready for bottle-feeding.
Lastly, this essential nutrient is believed to prevent cancer, manage asthma, and reduce cholesterol level.
How Safe Is It?
Either consuming by mouth or given through IV, choline is safe as long as the amount given is appropriate.
Inappropriate or too much choline dosage is unsafe. It has been linked to many unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, nausea, sweating, a fishy body odor, and a drop in blood pressure.
Taking it by mouth from food ingestion is not enough to overdose you. However, large doses from taking supplements are possible. Thus, it is important to follow the right dosage to avoid the mentioned possible side effects.
The proper dosage for choline intake is:
- Adults – 3, 500 mg per day is the highest dosage that seems not to cause any harmful effects to adults; nevertheless, the National Institute of Medicine suggests 550 mg of choline per day
- Pregnant women – 450 mg per day
- Breastfeeding women – for 18 years old and below, up to 3 grams is the suggested choline intake; for 19 years old and above, up to 3.5 grams is suggested
- Individuals with asthma – 500 to 1000 mg thrice a day
- Men – 550 mg per day
- Women – 425 mg per day
- Children – 200 mg per day for children ages 1 to 3; 250 mg per day for children ages 4 to 8; 375 mg per day for children ages 9 to 13; 125 mg per day for infants less than 6 months; 150 mg per day for infants 7 to 12 months old