Fat is a word that often evokes negative connotations, but certain fats are essential for optimal health. Choline, a form of phosphatidycholine that is found naturally in different types of foods and is a major component in these healthy fats. It’s a valuable macronutrient that is water soluble and has similarities to vitamins like folate and B vitamin complex. Choline is part of the process of methylation, which creates DNA, provides normal brain development and signals nerve signals through a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which helps muscles to function. It also aids in detoxification of the body, helps maintain energy levels and controls metabolism.
Choline is mostly obtained naturally in foods like eggs, liver, beef, fish, and cruciferous vegetables. Unfortunately, most don’t get enough choline in their daily diets. The best source of food ingested choline are organic, grass-fed meats, wild-caught cod or salmon, nuts and legumes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and healthy fats and oils. It’s also worth noting that choline can be found in soy products, but it is not recommended because processed forms of soy can cause digestive problems and nerve dysfunction.
Simple brain functions we take for granted can be effected by low levels of choline, so supplementation is often recommended for those who cannot absorb enough choline naturally or have eliminated animal products from their diet.
Symptoms of a choline deficiency may include:
- Memory loss
- Cognitive decline
- Learning disabilities
- Muscle aches
- Mood disorders
If you have been diagnosed with fatty liver disease or have diabetes, you are at a higher risk for having choline deficiency. A choline deficiency has also been linked to early onset Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and birth defects. Although excessive amounts of choline through you diet is highly unlikely, too much choline can cause unpleasant side effects like sweating, nausea, vomiting, a fish-like body odor and low blood pressure. Your doctor can help recommend the right amount of supplementation for you.