Choline, the Essential Nutrient: An in-depth look

The water-soluble nutrient choline is a vital part of our daily diet. The human body is able to synthesize some choline, but it's not enough for us. Choline is essential for several physiological functions, such as cell membrane integrity and fat metabolism. Choline also plays a crucial role in neurotransmitter production, which affects memory, mood and muscle control.

What is Choline and how does it work?

The nutrient choline, which is present naturally in certain foods as well as available dietary supplements, is essential. The Institute of Medicine recognized it as an essential nutritional in 1998. Its role in human metabolism is complex and multifaceted--ranging from cell structure to neurotransmission.

Over the past few years, choline's importance has been highlighted in numerous reports and studies . In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, "Choline, An Essential Nutrient for Public Health", the report highlighted the crucial role of choline during fetal growth, which makes it especially important for women who are pregnant.

Choline: Benefits and Uses

Scientific research has linked choline to many health benefits. In a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, higher choline intake was associated with improved cognitive performance. According to research in Nutrients published by the Journal Nutrients choline can also help prevent liver disease.

Choline has many potential health benefits.

Choline: Experts' Views

Experts in medicine and nutrition agree that choline is an important part of the diet. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, notes that choline deficiencies can cause liver diseases, atherosclerosis and neurological disorders. They also recommend that adults consume a sufficient amount of choline every day.

American Dietetic Association acknowledges the importance of choline for women, especially pregnant or lactating mothers. These groups suggest that choline is consumed in sufficient amounts to prevent neural tube defects and support the fetal growth.

Choline: How to Get Started

It's important to know how much choline you require and where to get it. The National Institutes of Health recommends a daily intake of choline of 550mg for men, and 425mg for women. Women who are pregnant should consume 450mg of choline per day, and lactating mothers should take 550mg.

It is readily available in many foods such as dairy, eggs, meats and fish that are lean, or nuts. It is available in powder or capsule form as well. It's best to speak with your healthcare provider prior to starting a new supplement regime.

Choline: Potential drawbacks

Choline has few side effects and is usually safe. However, excessive intake can have unwanted consequences. Some of these effects include reduced blood pressure, a fishy body smell, or increased sweating. High doses of Choline can cause nausea, vomiting and liver damage in severe cases. It is important to follow the dosage recommended by your healthcare provider unless they tell you otherwise.


Choline, as a nutrient essential to life, plays an important role in many physiological processes. Choline has many health benefits including improving liver and cognitive health and supporting the development of a fetus. To avoid side effects, you should consume it moderately, just like with any other food. You can get the correct amount of choline by incorporating foods rich in choline into your daily diet, or using a supplement taken under medical supervision.