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Choline is a nutrient found in many foods. It is needed by the brain and the nervous system to regulate memory, mood, muscle control and other functions. Choline is also needed to form the membranes that surround the body’s cells. The liver makes a small amount of choline, but most of the choline needed by your body comes from food.

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›  Health benefits

Scientists are studying the effects of choline.

Cardiovascular disease
Some research has shown that getting enough choline may help keep the heart and blood vessels healthy, in part by reducing blood pressure. Other research has shown that higher levels of choline may increase heart disease risk. More research is needed to understand how choline affects this.

Neurological disorders
Some studies have found a link between high intake of choline and better cognitive function. Other studies have shown that choline supplements do not improve cognition in healthy adults or those with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s dementia or other memory issues. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of choline on neurological disorders.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
There may be a link between low levels of choline and the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD occurs when fat builds up in the liver of someone who does not drink alcohol excessively. It is common, especially in overweight and obese people. More research is needed to understand how choline levels may help or prevent NAFLD.

›  In food

You can get the recommended amount of choline by eating a variety of foods, including eggs; milk; poultry; fish; dairy products; potatoes; cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower; and some beans, nuts and whole grains.

›  How much do I need?

The amount needed depends on gender and age. Men ages 19-plus need 550 milligrams daily; women ages 19-plus need about 425 milligrams daily. Pregnant teens and women need 450 milligrams daily; breastfeeding teens and women, 550 milligrams.

Choline deficiency is rare because the body produces it and it is found in many foods. If choline levels drop too low, you can experience muscle and liver damage, as well as deposits of fats in the liver.
Too much choline can cause a fishy body odor, vomiting, heavy sweating and salivation, low blood pressure, and liver damage. Some research has also shown that high levels of choline may increase the risk of heart disease. Choline is not known to interact with other drugs.

›  Dietary supplements

Some multivitamins/multiminerals contain choline, often in the form of choline bitartrate, phosphatidylcholine or lecithin. You can also find supplements that contain only choline.

Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.

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