Choline is a nutrient with many health benefits. Most notably, it can aide in liver repair, help protect the liver from side effects of medications, and help break down fats, just to name a few. Recently, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland observed that dietary intake of choline may help reduce the risk of dementia as well. This isn't surprising since this nutrient has been shown to help boost cognitive function as well.
Choline is an essential nutrient to the human body, meaning that we don't make it on our own. Instead, we get it from dietary sources. Choline is necessary for making acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that we need for improved cognitive performance. A proper choline intake most likely plays a key role in the prevention and decline of dementia-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
The study conducted in Finland found that men who had a larger intake of choline saw a 28% reduction in risk of cognitive decline compared to men who had a low intake of choline. The men with the highest intake of dietary choline also saw improved memory and linguistic abilities. As an education specialist, I often wonder if a student's performance in the classroom directly correlates to what they eat or don't eat. Perhaps students who consume choline would perform better on tests, and even overall inside a classroom.
The best source of dietary choline are eggs and meat. Unfortunately, current dietary guidelines scare a lot of people away from these foods. Since the reduction of the intake in these foods, we have seen a spike in dementia and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases. Could the reduction of dietary choline be a factor here? It's not unlikely.
Ultimately, you get to decide what you want to consume. But why not consider increasing your dietary intake of choline from nutrient-dense sources? These include eggs, liver, red meat, poultry, fresh-water fish and shellfish. Choline also hangs out in spinach, beets, cruciferous vegetables, and some legumes, though it's not as bioavailable in plant sources as it is in animal sources.
Deficiency in choline is rare, but some groups are at higher risk. These include endurance athletes, pregnant women, postmenopausal women, and those who consume high amounts of alcohol. Most people who eat a standard American diet are not meeting the recommended daily intake of choline from dietary sources. Supplements can help. But please seek the assistance of a healthcare provider, as it is possible to overdo it on choline. The recommended daily limit is between 400-550 mg per day, depending on your gender and health status. Intake of choline should not exceed 3,500 mg per day.