What is choline?
Choline is an essential nutrient found in high amounts in eggs, red meat and liver. Many people do not meet the recommended intake. Choline helps with liver function, brain function (memory), heart health, detoxification and the nervous system, and more. It is also essential for cell membranes.
Here’s more on the benefits:
Choline and heart health
Choline is a heart-supportive nutrient. In fact, research suggests that those with a higher intake of choline may have a reduced risk for heart disease. Choline is also involved in another process that is necessary for heart health – the conversion of the amino acid homocysteine into methionine. When enough choline is not present for this conversion, an individual may experience higher homocysteine levels which may increase the risk for both heart disease and stroke. There is a need for a clearer picture to define the relationship between choline and heart disease risk.
Choline and the brain
Choline is big for the brain. In fact, one neurotransmitter that has a major role in memory, mood and intelligence requires choline in order to be produced: acetycholine. Several studies have linked dietary choline intake (and blood levels) to cognitive enhancements in memory and brain processing.
Choline may also be beneficial for mental health. For instance, one study linked lower blood levels of choline to a higher likelihood of anxiety. Research has also shown that choline may improve certain facets of mental health for those with bipolar disorder.
Choline is also essential for basic brain function and development since it is involved in the synthesis of DNA.
Choline and detoxification
Choline supplies the body with about 60% of the methyl groups needed for methylation. Methylation is a process used to synthesize DNA. This process is required for several functions including nerve signaling and detoxification. Meaning that, in order for toxins to leave the body, the liver relies on methyl donors like choline. This suggests the importance of choline intake for preventing toxin accumulation which can otherwise derail health.
Where to get choline?
Luckily, some healthy and delicious foods are packed with choline. For example, egg yolks are the most concentrated source! Choline can also be found in liver, red meat, and in lower amounts in chicken breast, salmon and legumes.
Do you eat these foods? If not, you may want to support your heart, brain and detoxification by increasing your dietary intake of choline!