Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., MegaFood Chief Medical Advisor | July 2019
The Critical Role for Choline
What is choline and why should you be looking for it in your multivitamin? Choline is a water-soluble vitamin-like essential nutrient. It is important for supporting healthy memory and cognitive function, as well as fetal health.* Our need for choline actually starts before we are even born, as it helps to ensure proper development of babies in the womb. That’s why it’s particularly important to look for a prenatal multivitamin that contains choline.
While the body can make some choline, it cannot make enough to meet our needs. It must be included with our diet. The richest dietary sources are beef liver and whole eggs, followed by roasted soy nuts, scallops, chicken, beef, fish and cruciferous vegetables. Many Americans no longer consume liver, and the ongoing love-hate relationship we have with eggs has also contributed to the decline of this nutrient in our diet. One 2016 study found that only 10% of Americans 2 years and older met the dietary AI for choline.1 While the Institute of Medicine actually recognized choline as an essential nutrient in 1998, an adequate intake (AI) was only recently set: 425 mg for women, 450 mg per day for pregnant women, and 550 mg per day for men and breastfeeding women. Since most people cannot obtain this amount from diet alone, having choline in your daily multivitamin is a wise choice for filling gaps in the diet.
Demand for choline is high during pregnancy and lactation. Like folic acid, it supports healthy fetal development.* This means that having adequate choline onboard prior to conception is important. Choline requirements are even higher for breastfeeding women. I’ve been pushing the importance of choline for many years. In 2016, I created the Baby & Me 2™ Prenatal Multi prenatal supplement with MegaFood; it was one of only a few in the marketplace to include substantial levels of choline. This prenatal is also designed to be taken postpartum while a woman is breastfeeding. In 2017, the American Medical Association delegates unanimously endorsed the inclusion of choline in prenatal vitamins. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics included choline as a key micronutrient for infant neurodevelopment and lifelong mental health.
Choline is important across our entire lifespan, not just during early development. It transports fat and cholesterol away from the liver to the tissues that need them, and is therefore needed for optimal liver function. Choline also helps support healthy levels of homocysteine, and thus supports optimal heart health.
I believe we are going to learn more and more about the important role of choline in human health. Based on the scientific evidence, I am already a fan, and this is why I included choline in all of my doctor-formulated multivitamins.
Interested in learning more about how our multis are made? Read about our Promise and Process, and obsession with quality.
Want to learn about what other key nutrients can help you with optimal wellness? Build your energy from the ground up.
Fischer LM, daCosta KA, Kwock L, Stewart PW, Lu TS, Stabler SP, Allen RH, Zeisel SH. Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline. Am J Clin Nutr 2007 May;85(5):1275-85. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Fischer+LM%2C+et+al.+Am+J+Clin+Nutr.+2007%3B85(5)%3A1275-1285
Guerrerio AL, Colvin RM, Schwartz AK, et al. Choline intake in a large cohort of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(4):892-900.
Rich NE, Oji S, Mufti AR, Browning JD, Parikh ND, Odewole M, Mayo H, Singal AG. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Prevalence, Severity, and Outcomes in the United States: A Systematic R view and Meta-analysis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018 Feb;16(2):198-210.e2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28970148
Shaw, GM, Finnell RH, Blom HJ, Carmichael SL, Vollset SE, Yang W, Ueland PM. Choline and risk of neural tube defects in a folate-fortified population. Epidemiology 2009; 20: 714–719. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25662743?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Schwarzenberg SJ, Georgieff MK. Committee on Nutrition. Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics 2018, 141. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/2/e20173716.full
USDA Food Composition Databases. Choline in Common Foods. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/report/nutrientsfrm?max=25&offset=0&totCount=0&nutrient1=421&nutrient2=&subset=0&sort=c&measureby=g
Wallace TC, Fulgoni VL 3rd. Assessment of total choline intakes in the United States. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016;35(2):108-12. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2015.1080127 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26886842