Brain Power

An important nutrient for memory support

Here’s a pop quiz: Which of these nutrients is essential for keeping your memory sharp?

A) Vitamin C
B) Choline
C) Beta-carotene

The answer is B: choline. But don’t be dismayed if you thought, “What the heck is choline?” You’re not alone.

An eggcellent friend

According to a recent survey, nearly three out of four people have little or no idea that choline is an important nutrient. This isn’t really surprising – choline (pronounced “koleen”) was only recognized as part of the B vitamin complex in 1998, so it’s spent less than a decade in the limelight.

Now that you’ve been introduced, here are five key reasons why choline might be your new best friend:

  • The body uses choline to make a neurotransmitter that facilitates memory storage and muscle control
  • Helps prevent fatigue and insomnia
  • Helps prevent the build up of fats in the liver
  • Helps maintain healthy cell membranes
  • Choline deficiency has been associated with poor kidney function, memory loss, fatigue, and insomnia, while extreme cases of deficiency may contribute to anemia, high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney failure

The best source of choline is egg yolks. And if you’ve heard that eggs are bad for you, don’t believe a word of it. Choline is just one of many excellent nutrients eggs deliver. Other good choline sources include organ meats, legumes, milk, cauliflower, and flax seeds.

Good hearted

Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t getting nearly enough choline. According to a report from Ivanhoe Newswire, average choline intake in the U.S. is about 315 mg, but the RDA for women is 425 mg, and 550 mg for men. Many multivitamins contain choline, but usually not enough to come close to the RDA.

This low intake could pose serious problems for heart health because choline deficiency can also cause a deficiency of folic acid. As most HSI members are aware, folic acid is essential for managing homocysteine, an amino acid that promotes plaque buildup on blood vessel walls. A recent study from Harvard Medical School shows that choline may also be effective in managing homocysteine.

Researchers used dietary data and blood samples gathered from more than 1,900 middle-aged subjects to determine intake of choline and betaine, a nutrient in spinach, broccoli and beets.

The Harvard team found that subjects with the highest intake of choline had nearly 10 percent lower total homocysteine compared to subjects with the lowest choline intake. When highest and lowest betaine levels were included in the analysis, homocysteine levels dropped even lower among subjects in the highest intake group. Researchers also found that choline and betaine intake reduced homocysteine even when intakes of folate and other B vitamins were low.

I hope you’ll share this e-Alert with someone you care about. Once they get to know choline, I’m sure they’ll be friends for life.

Sources:
“Dietary Choline and Betaine Assessed by Food-Frequency Questionnaire in Relation to Plasma Total Homocysteine Concentration in the Framingham Offspring Study” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 83, No. 4, April 2006, ajcn.org
“Are You Getting Enough Choline in Your Diet?” Ivanhoe Newswire, 9/8/06, Ivanhoe.com