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Choline Found in Eggs May Help Lower
Heart Disease, Cancer & Dementia Risk

Choline is a B vitamin that has only within the past decade begun to receive attention. The body does make (small amounts) of choline on its own, but diet is a major source of the nutrient. However, as Americans' diets are often inadequate (and based on too many junk foods), scientists realized that some people are at risk of choline deficiency, and a recommended daily intake was established in 1998.

choline eggs

One large egg contains 126 mg of choline ... an excellent source to help you reach the daily recommended intake of this essential B vitamin.

Today even more is known about the importance of choline, not only to maintain your health but also to prevent disease.

Choline Helps Prevent an Array of Diseases

Getting enough choline is an important way to ensure your health. Research has uncovered that choline is beneficial in the following ways:

  • Reduce homocysteine in the blood. Elevated homocysteine (even moderately elevated) levels in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Studies have found that choline helps prevent the build-up and reduce levels of this harmful substance in the blood.

  • May Prevent Cancer. Studies in rats have found that choline deficiency is linked to an increased risk of liver cancer and an increased sensitivity to cancer-causing chemicals.

  • Protect Your Liver. Choline deficiency is linked to increased oxidative stress in the liver and liver damage.

  • May Prevent DNA Damage. Choline deficiency is known to decrease methylation of DNA, which may result in abnormal DNA repair.

  • Protect Your Baby's Brain During Pregnancy. Animal studies have shown that too little choline permanently damages fetal brain chemistry. Further, studies suggest that choline intake during pregnancy might decrease the risk of spina bifida.

  • May Protect Against Dementia. Choline promotes the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that's a key building block of memory. A deficit of acetylcholine has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

  • Beneficial for Cell Membranes. Choline helps keep your cell membranes, which allow nutrients to enter (and wastes to leave) your cells, working properly.

  • Promote Nerve System Communication. Choline allows your nerves to communicate effectively with your muscles.

How Much Choline is Recommended, and What Foods Contain It?

choline deficiency

Getting enough choline during pregnancy is essential to protect your baby's brain and decreases the risk of the birth defect, spina bifida.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Adequate Intake (AI) levels for choline are:

  • 550 milligrams (mg) per day for adult men

  • 425 mg/day for adult women

  • 450 mg/day for pregnant women

  • 550 mg/day for nursing women

If you'd like to increase choline in your diet, it's found in beef liver, egg yolks, fish, butter, peanuts, wheat germ, potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, oats, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and soybeans. Following is a list of the choline content of a variety of foods:

  • Beef liver (3 ounces): 355 mg

  • Wheat germ (1 cup): 172 mg

  • Egg (1 large): 126 mg

  • Atlantic cod (3 ounces): 71 mg

  • Beef (3 ounces): 66 mg

  • Broccoli (1 cup, cooked): 62 mg

  • Peanut butter (2 Tbs): 20 mg

Aside from eating choline-rich foods, choline is also available in supplement form. The most common choline supplement is in the form of lecithin, which is extracted from soy. Soy-free choline supplements, and choline itself, are also available. (Remember to talk to your health care provider before starting any vitamin supplementation.)

Recommended Reading

Magnesium: Why Your Heart is Begging You for More of This Essential Nutrient

Nutritional Deficiency: Symptoms & Recommendations for 24 Common Nutritional Deficiencies


Science Daily December 22, 2006

Linus Pauling Institute

The World's Healthiest Foods

Science News Online

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