90% of Americans don’t get enough Choline leading to memory and liver issues

December 03, 2014

90% of Americans don’t get enough Choline leading to memory and liver issues

Choline is a water soluble vitamin generally grouped with B-Complex vitamins. Choline is the precursor to acetylcholine making it very important for muscle function and for memory. It’s not that Choline will make you a genius but rather that lacking Choline sets adults up for mental deterioration.

In 1998, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recognized Choline as an essential nutrient and set an adequate intake at 550mg a day for men and 425mg a day for women. Nursing women need a lot more at 550mg a day and pregnant women require 450mg a day to help prevent birth defects.

The problem is that most people, 90% of all Americans, do not obtain adequate Choline from their diets according to the NHANES, a periodic Government sponsored nutritional survey. This includes most pregnant women, children and adults. In pregnancy we know that low Choline diets are associated with increased rates of birth defects. Nursing babies are doing okay with Choline because it is found in breast milk. Yet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines committee did not make any particular recommendations although they identified Choline as a shortfall nutrient.

Part of the problem is that Americans have mostly cut out or decreased their consumption of Choline rich foods; steak, chicken liver, egg yolks, soybeans and milk. It is in salmon but who wants to eat salmon every day. Low Choline diets cause fatty liver and muscle damage in otherwise healthy adults and this is reversed with Choline supplementation.
Fatty liver is becoming increasingly more common in American adults. High blood sugar, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and over consumption of high fructose corn syrup are contributing to fatty liver and liver scarring. It is estimated that 80% of obese adults have some level of fatty liver and it will become a real problem in about 40% of these people. Fatty liver is a secondary important target for increasing Choline after pregnancy and birth defect reduction.

As for adults in general, “25% of the US population has fatty liver” according to Dr Steven H Zeisel, MD, a leading researcher on Choline. He adds “ but as we do not know we have fatty liver without special testing, most people do not realize they have it”. “Probably this is why there is less pressure to set policy on Choline”.

4 ounces of salmon packs about 220mg of Choline and a little over 3 ounces of chicken supplies 80mg. An average whole large egg packs about 147 mg of Choline so while Americans will unlikely increase their enthusiasm for chicken livers, consuming more eggs is achievable (egg replacers may not offer Choline). Real Cocoa Powder has about 115mg in about 3.5 ounces. Soy protein powder has 86mg in about 3 ounces. The highest natural value in a supplement may be in some Krill Oil capsules (InVite Krill Oil supplies 148mg of Choline per serving along with a good level of fish oils).

* Women in California in the lowest quartile (25%) for Choline intake during pregnancy have four times the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, and a 1.7 times risk of having a baby with a cleft palate (folic acid, another B-Vitamin is also required to prevent these birth defects)

* Choline intake in the last two trimesters of pregnancy is also correlated with memory function in seven year olds