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Although choline was only recently discovered in the late 1990s, it is a nutrient that has always been important to our health.

Choline is naturally produced by the body, but it is essential to eat foods rich in this nutrient to avoid its deficiency.

Here, let’s know what choline-rich foods to start eating today and discover the benefits of choline for our health and what it is for our body.

Colina – What is it?

Characterized in 1998 as an indispensable nutrient for the human body, choline is a water-soluble organic compound that is synthesized by the liver in small amounts. Choline is not considered a vitamin or mineral, but is sometimes called a vitamin because it has some similarities to the B-complex vitamins .

Choline acts in the regulation of metabolic functions that take place in the liver, muscular system, nervous system and brain.

Although it is produced by the liver, it is important to obtain choline from food as well.

what is it for

Choline participates in many metabolic processes in the body. Some of them include:

 

  1. Production of fats to maintain the integrity of cell membranes;
  2. Synthesis of compounds that act as cellular messengers;
  3. Fat transport and prevention against the accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the liver;
  4. Acting as a precursor of acetylcholine , which is an essential neurotransmitter involved in functions such as memory, heartbeat and muscle movement;
  5. DNA synthesis in conjunction with other vitamins such as folate and vitamin B12.

Hill Benefits

1. Heart health

A study published in the scientific journal ARYA Atherosclerosis in 2011 indicates that high choline intake is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Research already shows that high levels of homocysteine ​​in the blood are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. The fact is that nutritional deficiencies, including folate, can cause an accumulation of homocysteine ​​in the blood.

The presence of folate and choline in adequate amounts helps to convert homocysteine ​​to methionine, thus reducing the risk of heart disease in general.

Additionally, there are choline benefits for muscle function, helping to strengthen several muscles in the body, including the heart.

2. Brain health

 

Choline is a precursor of acetylcholine, a very important neurotransmitter for regulating functions such as memory, intelligence and mood. This neurotransmitter also plays a role in the development and proper functioning of the brain.

Several studies indicate benefits of choline for improving short- and long-term memory in adults aged 50 to 85 years who have poor memory. Other studies also show that the use of phosphatidylcholine by people with early Alzheimer’s disease was able to produce considerable improvements in memory.

In general, high levels of choline in the body are related to better brain performance and that’s why this nutrient is so important for pregnant women for the baby to develop as well as possible.

Observational studies indicate that choline also helps reduce anxiety and mental disorders such as bipolar disorder.

3. Healthy liver

Scientific evidence indicates that choline deficiency can result in liver disease. This is because the phosphatidylcholine produced from choline participates in the breakdown of fats in the liver. Thus, low levels of choline can contribute to the accumulation of fat in the organ.

 

According to a study involving more than 56,000 people and which was published in the journal Journal of Nutrition in 2014, women in the ideal weight range who consumed a lot of choline had a 28% lower risk of developing liver disease compared to those who consumed less of the nutrient. However, that study did not address the relationship between choline and liver health in overweight adults.

Another survey of 664 people published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012 found that people with non-alcoholic liver disease who ingested low amounts of choline seemed to have a more severe condition of the disease.

Furthermore, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry , liver damage caused by too little choline in the body can cause other health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity and insulin resistance.

4. Reduction of inflammation

A scientific article published in 2008 in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that higher choline intake is related to lower levels of inflammatory markers in the body such as interleukin 6 (IL-6).

There is also evidence that acetylcholine receptors in the body have a natural anti-inflammatory action, and some studies with asthmatic patients have shown that supplementation with choline has been able to reduce symptoms and reduce inflammation in the airways.

 

5. Cancer Prevention

Research suggests that women who consume a lot of choline may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

According to a 2008 study published in the journal FASEB Journal that involved 1,508 women who consumed a lot of choline through diet, they had a 24% lower risk of getting breast cancer than those who ingested little choline through diet.

However, some other studies believe that excess choline may be related to the development of some types of cancer such as liver cancer, prostate cancer or colon cancer. Thus, while more conclusive studies are not published, it is prudent to ingest no more than the recommended daily amount of choline.

6. Health of the fetus

A high intake of choline during pregnancy reduces the risk of the baby having neural tube defects. According to data from the 2004 publication of the American Journal of Epidemiology , women who ingested choline in adequate amounts during pregnancy had a 51% lower risk of developing neural tube defects.

Another 2009 study published in the journal Epidemiology shows that pregnant women who consumed little choline were twice as likely to have babies with neural tube defects.

However, scientific evidence is still limited and more studies are needed on these benefits of choline.

7. Child development

Outside the mother’s womb, children also need nutrients like choline to continue to develop. According to data from a 2011 study published in the journal American Journal of Nutrition , choline is very important in supporting the construction of new neural connections.

Some studies show benefits of choline even to prevent health problems that interfere with attention and learning, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is because choline is essential in the development of learning, memory, concentration and attention.

8. Intelligence

Choline is important for the formation of myelin, a membrane that covers neurons. According to research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the myelin coating is essential for functions such as intelligence and IQ.

In addition, choline also improves myelination, a phenomenon through which the nerve impulse is conducted more quickly.

9. Improved cognitive function

According to a 2015 study published in the scientific journal Clinical Interventions in Aging , cognitive decline happens because of the reduction of acetylcholine.

According to a 2011 study of 1,391 people and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , a high consumption of choline was related to better cognitive performance, including verbal and visual memories.

In addition to increasing the production of acetylcholine – essential for the proper functioning of the brain – it is possible to prevent cognitive decline and protect the brain against degeneration.

Other benefits of choline

Choline can also help reduce symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to helping to treat mood disorders, choline can also help improve cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia or autism.

The nutrient also helps in the recovery of brain injuries, in preventing the accumulation of unmetabolized fat in the body, in the proper functioning of the nervous system, as it acts in nerve transmission and in the maintenance of nerve cells, in the health of the skin and in the relief of some glaucoma symptoms.

Some studies show that supplementation can improve physical performance in activities such as weight training. For this reason, some athletes use this supplement for bodybuilding and in order to reduce muscle fatigue and improve performance in training.

daily recommendation

The recommended daily amount of choline has not yet been well established due to the paucity of studies on the subject and because recommendations may vary according to individual factors such as genetics and gender, but there are some suggested recommendations for different age groups shown below:

age group Daily amount (milligrams)
0 to 6 months 125
7 to 12 months 150
1 to 3 years 200
4 to 8 years 250
9 to 13 years old 375
14 to 19 years old 400 (women) and 550 (men)
adult women 425
adult men 550
lactating women 550
pregnant women 450

However, there is no rule. According to a scientific article published in 2009 in the journal Nutrition Reviews, choline requirements may vary from person to person. Thus, there are individuals who feel good even with little intake of choline, while others may be deficient in the nutrient even ingesting the recommended amounts.

Some signs of choline deficiency may include:

  • Liver damage;
  • Muscle aches;
  • Memory loss;
  • Mood changes;
  • Learning difficulties;
  • Cognitive decline;
  • Nerve damage.

During pregnancy, it is especially important to eat foods rich in choline, as a low intake of choline can result in neural tube defects in the fetus. According to 2009 data published in the scientific journal Nutrition Reviews , choline deficiency may also increase the risk of complications in pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, premature birth and low birth weight.

Still, cases of disability are rare and most often affect people considered in risk groups, such as:

  • High performance athletes who have their choline levels reduced in marathons, for example;
  • Postmenopausal women due to drop in estrogen levels that are related to choline production;
  • Pregnant women who need higher amounts of choline for the good development of the fetus;
  • Vegans who do not consume choline-rich animal food sources;
  • People who abuse alcohol, as the substance can increase the body’s needs for choline.

Even for these risk groups, it is enough to surround yourself with predominantly natural and nutritious foods in everyday life that contain choline in their composition to avoid problems.

Choline-rich foods

Based on the recommended amount of 550 milligrams for an adult, you can find the following amounts of choline in the foods described below:

Food Hill amount daily recommendation
Bovine liver (85 g) 283 milligrams 51%
Chickpeas (1 cup raw) 198 milligrams 36%
Salmon (1 fillet) 242 milligrams 44%
Pea (1 cup raw) 188 milligrams 34%
Chicken breast (85 g) 50 milligrams 9%
Cauliflower (1 cup raw) 47 milligrams 8%
egg (1 unit) 147 milligrams 27%
Sea beans (1 cup raw) 181 milligrams 32%
red meat (85 g) 78 milligrams 14%
turkey (85 g) 57 milligrams 10%
Goat milk (1 cup) 39 milligrams 7%
Brussels sprouts (1 cup raw) 17 milligrams 3%
Salmon (110 g) 63 milligrams 11%
Fresh cod (85 g) 248 milligrams 45%
Broccoli (½ cup) 31 milligrams 6%

Looking at the above data, it’s easy to understand why choline deficiency is rare. By consuming only 2 hard-boiled eggs a day, it is now possible to guarantee half the body’s daily need for choline. If you choose a beef liver, for example, you can supply the daily recommendations in just one meal.

It is noteworthy that in most foods what is found is phosphatidylcholine, which after ingested can be converted into choline by the body.

Supplements

While it is absolutely possible to have adequate choline levels just through a balanced diet, there are those who need or prefer to seek dietary supplements to enjoy the benefits of choline.

One food additive that contains choline is soy lecithin , present in some foods or found as a supplement. A serving of lecithin contains about 10 to 20% of phosphatidylcholine in its composition.

Another form of supplement is phosphatidylcholine itself, which can be found in capsule form or as a powdered supplement. Other less common types of supplements are choline chloride, alpha-GPC, betaine and CDP-choline, with CDP-choline and alpha-GPC having the highest amounts of choline and being more easily absorbed. and used by the body.

The recommendation of nutritionists and health professionals in general is that dietary supplements should not be used without medical advice. Also, it’s best for the body to try to make up for the nutritional deficiency with real foods that can add other nutrients before using a supplement that contains only that missing substance.

One risk associated with using nutritional supplements has to do with the amounts ingested. When taking a supplement alone, the risk of ingesting an exaggerated amount of the substance is much greater. Studies show that excessive consumption of choline can cause unpleasant side effects such as sweating, drop in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and body odor. When choosing food, you will hardly be able to exceed the maximum daily dose for adults, which is 3,500 milligrams per day.

Considerations

Choline is very important for metabolism in general, especially for cognitive function, cardiovascular function and the development of infants and children.

Obtaining choline through food is the best option, as the amounts needed for the body to perform its functions are easily obtained. Supplements, on the other hand, are hardly necessary, being used only under medical guidance and in cases of deficiencies that are not covered only with dietary changes.

The ideal is to eat healthy foods such as vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower in addition to good sources of protein such as eggs, salmon and some types of liver to preserve health and enjoy the benefits of choline.

By admin

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