What Is Choline – And Are You Getting Enough of It?
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition claims that 90 percent of Americans aren’t meeting their recommended daily intake of choline, a nutrient found naturally in some foods.
Choline is a byproduct of vitamin B4 and is naturally produced in your liver, but the National Institute of Health says your body can’t produce the necessary amount on its own.
Choline is important for cell structure and growth. It also plays a significant role in brain activity and memory retention by lowering levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory agent that can affect brain development for older adults, and aids fat metabolism in your body by transporting necessary fats into cells.
The nutrient is also crucial for pregnant and nursing mothers – choline produced in the mother’s liver is transferred to the fetus, and many popular prenatal supplements don’t include choline.
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University says that choline deficiencies can lead to fatty liver disease, increased muscle cell damage, and can contribute to development of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.
The National Institute of Health recommends around 550 mg of choline for men and 425 mg for women. Sourcing your recommended daily intake of choline isn’t too difficult, especially if you take supplements or regularly consume the following food items:
- Chicken: 3 oz. of roasted chicken breast contains 72 mg of choline.
- Eggs: A single large egg holds a whopping 147 mg of the essential nutrient—the bulk of that is in the yolk!
- Soybeans: Roasting a cup of these will earn you 107 mg and nearly 20 percent of your daily intake.
- 1 percent milk: Drinking a glass of milk doesn’t just give you vitamin D and Calcium – there’s also 38 mg of choline per cup.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Just a half cup of diced pieces holds nearly 60 mg of choline.
- Lean Beef: Just 3 ounces packs 117 mg of choline.
While choline levels aren’t routinely measured by healthcare professionals, strategically increasing your daily intake of choline-rich foods—such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs—can help your body produce what you need to stay in tip-top shape.