Choline: Your Liver Will Appreciate It
Choline is Essential Nutrient for Liver and more
Choline is a specialty nutrient with low consumer awareness. Choline is not generally considered a vitamin, but it is an essential micronutrient.
Functions of Choline
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University cites several physiologic roles for choline. As part of the phospholipids phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, choline lends flexibility and integrity to the membranes of every cell in our body. Phospholipids also provide the mechanism for transporting cholesterol and triglycerides through your bloodstream. Phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin serve as precursors for signaling molecules, which allow your cells to coordinate their activities with those of surrounding cells. Choline is the precursor for acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter.
Choline deficiency has a significant impact on our health and well-being. Choline functions in development and maintenance of cognitive function, including development of the memory center in infants and toddlers. It help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in adults and contributes to heart health, liver health, sports performance and helps prevent fetal neural tube defects.
Liver and Heart Health
There is strong evidence that adequate choline supports normal liver functions and helps to prevent NAFLD and fatty liver. Choline functions in liver health through a variety of mechanisms. Without adequate dietary intake of choline, there is a higher-than-normal risk of chronic liver damage and eventual liver failure. Choline is vital in forming very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) in the liver, which helps transport fat from that organ to cells throughout the body. Although VLDL is considered a “bad” form of cholesterol because high levels indicate an abundance of circulating triglycerides, if VLDL levels fall too low, fat will begin to accumulate in the liver.
Choline lowers homocysteine levels. Homocysteine triggers oxidative stress and damage, with an increase in LDL cholesterol, all leading to formation of plaque on arterial walls. Choline also works to support a strong heart muscle with regular contractions, leading to a controlled and lower heart rate with less stress to the heart over time.
Authorized Health Claims
EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) concluded that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of choline and maintenance of normal liver function.
Choline in foods
Most choline is present in the form of phosphatidycholine. It is found in abundance in egg yolks, beef liver, wheat germ, beef, soy foods, Brussels sprouts, cod, salmon, broccoli, peanut butter and milk chocolate. Some multivitamins also provide choline as an ingredient. It is important to include choline containing foods in your diet, especially if you do not eat whole eggs regularly.