In part two of this mini-series on the mineral choline, I’ll look at how much we need each day, as well as where we can get it. Information like this is a necessary part of any discussion about taking supplements.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine has established the following adequate intake levels:
— 550 milligrams/day (mg/day): men, breastfeeding women
— 425 mg/day: women
— 375 mg/day: children aged nine to 13
— 250 mg/day: children aged four to eight
— 200 mg/day: children aged one to three
— 150 mg/day: infants
Things get a bit complicated with heavy wording, but I’ll move quickly here. The amount of choline we require for maintaining good health is determined by the relationship of choline with other “methyl group donors” such as folate and S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). SAMe is made from the amino acid methionine, and three molecules of SAMe are required for making one “phosphatidylcholine.”
We know that choline deficiency leads to a fatty liver. This is a common condition found in people who are hospitalized and fed intravenous nutrition that lacks choline. If the supply of choline isn’t high enough, those particles of fat and cholesterol cannot be synthesized and fat will accumulate in the liver. Thankfully, this condition can be reversed when a person gets enough choline on a daily basis.
So, where do we find choline? Well, the first place is within our own bodies. But this amount is insufficient, so we need to get it through our diet. Foods rich in choline include milk, peanuts, eggs, and liver. It is estimated that the average intake by American adults is between 730 and 1,040 milligrams per day.
Food processing with added “lecithins” increases the daily consumption of choline by another 115 mg a day.
Importantly, vegetarians who do not drink milk or eat eggs are at risk of choline deficiency.
The third way we can get choline is through supplements. You can add choline salts (e.g. choline chloride or bitartrate) to the diet. You can also add phosphatidylcholine, 13% of whose weight will be choline. (Note: Lecithin is the same as phosphatidylcholine, but lecithin may contain anywhere from 13% to 90% phosphatidylcholine.)
With that technical information aside, part three of the series will be the heavy hitter. I’ll go over the diseases it could prevent and fight. Don’t miss it.
To read part one of this series, click here.