Choline — The Newest Essential Nutrient on the Block

If new nutrients get you excited, then we’ve got news for you - there's a new nutrient on the block!

Well, sort of. It isn't exactly new, but it is the newest dietary nutrient identified by the FDA as essential for health, making it a recent addition to Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts panels.

We’re talking about choline. And while it’s found in many foods and has been around as long as all of the other nutrients you know and love, it has managed to slip out of the spotlight until just recently.

What is choline, why are we excited about it, and why should you be too?

What is Choline?

Choline is an essential nutrient that is closely related to the B vitamin family, and it’s found in all living cells. Although the body can produce small amounts of it, we need to consume sufficient choline from our diet to meet our body’s needs (the definition of an essential nutrient).

The majority of choline in the body exists as a component of other compounds, like acetylcholine — a hard-working neurotransmitter that facilitates the transmission of brain impulses between nerves, muscles, and organs.

Choline is also an essential part of phosphatidylcholine — a type of phospholipid. In cell membranes, phospholipids help protect the cell and maintain its shape, and foster optimal cell communication.

A Quick History

In 1849, a German chemist named Adolph Strecker was the first person to isolate choline from pig bile. He later dubbed it choline from the Greek word for bile — “chole.”

It wasn’t until 1991 that Steven Zeisel, a doctor and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, established the importance of choline for human health. He did this by conducting a study where men who were fed diets low in choline developed liver issues that resolved when choline was put back into their diets. Finally, in 1998 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) officially classified choline as an essential nutrient.

How Much Choline Do You Need?

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for choline is based on adequate daily intake levels for healthy adults, established as 550 mg for men, 425 mg for women and children over age four, 450 mg for pregnant women, and 550 mg for lactating women.

If you’re wondering if you’re meeting those needs, the answer is probably not. It’s estimated that 90% of Americans don’t meet the established DRIs for choline.

Choline is vitally important for pregnant women, who need to consume higher amounts to foster a baby’s healthy brain development. Notably, vegetarians and vegans face particular challenges in consuming enough choline, since most food sources are from animals (like meat, eggs, and dairy).

Choline Benefits

Choline supports health in numerous important ways including:

  • Healthy liver function and balanced bile and fat metabolism
  • Healthy brain and nerve function
  • Muscle function and balance
  • Healthy prenatal brain development
  • Healthy cellular energy production

Foods High in Choline

As we mentioned, many animal-based foods are good sources of choline, and eggs are an especially easy and inexpensive way to incorporate choline into your diet. One egg can provide one-quarter to one-third of your daily needs. Just note that the vast majority of choline is located in the egg yolk, so eating just the egg whites won’t give you much.

For those on a plant-based diet, or who avoid specific animal products for health or religious reasons – there are plenty of options that can add up towards your daily supply. Many plants offer significant amounts of choline, with cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and nuts providing essential support.

Some top dietary sources of choline include:

  • Meat like chicken, beef & turkey
  • Seafood such as shrimp, scallops, cod, tuna & salmon
  • Egg yolks
  • Cruciferous vegetables like collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli & cauliflower
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts
  • Shiitake & cremini mushrooms
  • Wheat bran, wheat germ & oat bran

Types of Choline Supplements

Of course, if consuming adequate levels of choline through diet isn’t feasible, dietary supplements are an excellent way to ensure you’re getting in your daily supply. For most individuals, a combination of choline-rich foods and supplementation is an optimal choice.

There are a few types of choline supplements that are commonly available. Choline bitartrate and choline citrate are basic synthetic forms that are inexpensive, but these lower-cost alternatives often contain artificial additives, preservatives, or undesirable excipients such as magnesium stearate.

One way to support your choline levels is to take supplements containing phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is found in soy lecithin, sunflower lecithin, and egg lecithin. However, the choline provided by these products is quite low, making up about 13% of the ingredient. This means that larger doses of phosphatidylcholine supplements are typically needed to meet your daily choline needs.

A better option? Our Choline Complex™ is a natural, vegan alternative to low-quality, synthetic supplements, and it offers 50% of the 550 mg DRI for healthy adults . Furthermore, our bioavailable choline is made through fermentation, which activates choline within a food-form matrix and binds it to important cofactors and partner nutrients found naturally in foods that promote effective absorption. Finally, the fermented choline is synergized with choline-rich cruciferous greens and sprouts for a nature-wise approach. Plus, Choline Complex is made without any artificial fillers or chemical solvents whatsoever.

Why We’re Excited About Choline – And Why You Should Be Too

With a long list of reasons why choline both supports health and enhances wellness, we’re glad choline is finally getting some well-deserved recognition. And because our passion is bringing you the absolute best of what nature has to offer to meet your daily needs, we think you and your body will agree that Choline Complex is the favorite new kid on the block.

3 Years ago