Choline is a little-known yet essential nutrient that exerts amazing effects in the body. Doctors Health Press is devoted to writing about all natural remedies, and specifically about their potential in fighting disease and keeping us as healthy as possible. With that in mind, here is part one of three where I describe the five main effects of choline in the body.
Though discovered in 1862, choline was not classified as essential until 1998. Even though your body makes choline (in tiny amounts), you get most of it through your diet. Inside your body, choline is found in specific fat molecules that are critical in maintaining the structure and function of all cells.
So what does choline do? I’d say its vital roles in your body can be split up like so:
1. Helps build cell membranes: Choline is used in the synthesis of the key components of all cell membranes.
2. Helps transmit nerve impulse: It’s used in forming “acetylcholine.” This is a very important neurotransmitter (chemical message between nerve cells), involved in memory, muscle function, and other functions.
3. Helps transport and break down lipids and fats: Fat and cholesterol are packaged into lipoproteins in the liver called “VLDL” (very low-density lipoproteins) before they are swept away to various tissues in our blood. Choline is a necessary ingredient of these VLDL particles. Without it, you can get a case of “fatty liver.”
4. It signals cells: Choline is crucial in forming molecules that signal cells to perform their functions. In other words, it is the signal that switches a traffic light to green, showing cells it’s time to go, or work.
5. Major source of methyl groups: Betaine, made from choline, is a major source of methyl groups required for many important chemical reactions in the body. One of them is turning homocysteine — a potentially dangerous amino acid — into methionine, a harmless one. This is a very important point, as it is well-documented that elevated homocysteine in the blood is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
In part two, I’ll address the nuts and bolts of how much choline you need and where to get it.
In the meantime, read the article This Common Weed Has Powerful Anti-Cancer Properties to see more about some plants that contain choline.