- Component of all lipoproteins
- Lipotropic (helps to remove fat from the liver)
- Structural role in cell membranes
- Synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine
Good food sources
- Egg yolk
- Fatty liver and liver impairment
- Possible memory or thought impairment
- Retarded growth
Choline is relatively low in fruits and vegetables, so those most at risk of choline deficiency (and other deficiencies) are those on long-term ‘fad’ diets such as fruit-only regimes. Choline may also be deficient if liver function is impaired, since a limited amount of choline can be synthesized in the liver, using the amino acid methionine. As with all other nutrients, a wide variety of foods, preferably for the most part unrefined, is the best health protection.
It would be difficult to develop a choline deficiency without also developing a number of other deficiencies.
In research studies, choline supplements have been found to:
- Foster healing of fatty liver changes in ex-alcoholics
- Reduce the cholesterol content of bile and increase bile phospholipids
- Reduce the tremors of tardive dyskinesia, a Parkinson’s disease-like syndrome caused by major tranquillizer drugs used against schizophrenia
Preferred form and suggested intake
The preferred form of choline supplementation is phosphatidyl choline, also known as lecithin. It can be bought in granules and sprinkled on food or in hot drinks. The usual dosage is 1-2 tablespoons per day.
Some forms of choline used in medical practice can give the body a fishy odour. Phosphatidyl choline (lecithin) does not, and there is no known unsafe dosage of this form of choline.