|Description||Choline is a vitamin-like water-soluble organic compound.
It is an essential nutrient naturally present in some foods and in dietary supplements. Although the body can produce small amounts of choline in the liver, we still need to consume it in foods to gain enough.
|Function/ Used for||Choline is a source of methyl groups needed for many steps in metabolism. The body needs choline to synthesize phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, two major phospholipids vital for cell membranes and also the neurotransmitter acetylcoline. It is vital for good brain health and brain development in unborn babies1.
Choline also contributes to normal lipid metabolism, homocysteine metabolism and liver function1.
|Intake||Adequate Intake (AI) as recommended by EFSA2: 400mg/day
The AI for pregnant women is set at 480mg/day and for lactating women is raised to 520mg/day.
|As a supplement||Commonly available as a single supplement. Also available in combination with B-complex vitamins, and in some multivitamin/multimineral products.
Different multivitamin and minerals products will vary in the percentage NRVs amount of choline they include. People should always check the label for information about a specific product.
|Found in (dietary sources)||Good sources of choline include mostly animal products such as eggs, milk, oily fish such as salmon, and meat. Plant-based sources include cruciferous vegetables, beans, mushrooms, peanuts and soya products.|
|Deficiency||Choline deficiency (although rare) can cause muscle and liver damage as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)2.
Genetic pre-dispositions and gender can influence individual requirements for choline3.
|Precautions and contraindications||Safe Upper Level (Guidance Level): not established.|
|Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding||Suggested choline intakes increase during pregnancy and lactation2 (see ‘Intake’).|
|Interactions e.g. with other medications||Choline is not known to have any clinically relevant interactions with medications.|
|Adverse effects||Choline is considered to be very safe in quantities consumed through the diet. Excessive intake (>7g/day) has been found to cause hypotension and gastrointestinal effects alongside a fishy body odour. Choline has also been shown to increase trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) production which has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease2.|
|References||1 EU Community Register of Nutrition and Health Claims http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=register.home
2 EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Dietary Reference Values for choline. EFSA Journal 2016. 14(8): e04484. [online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2016.4484
3 National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements; Choline: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals [online]. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/#en4