Sometimes referred to as Vitamin B4, choline is a member of the B-complex family known as: one of the “lipotrophic” factors.
Lipotrophic means that choline possesses properties that prevent the excessive accumulation of fat in the liver.
Although not officially deemed a Vitamin per the FDA definition, make no mistake about it; choline is an essential and vital nutrient for our health.
Why do you need Choline?
- Crucial component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is necessary for muscle movement and brain function.
- Crucial component of phosphatidlycholine, which is necessary for cell membrane integrity.
- Crucial component of sphingomylelin, which is found in myelin sheaths (a type of insulating material) that protects and is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- Regulates liver function and minimizes excessive fat deposits.
- Necessary for normal fat metabolism.
- Involved with methylation.
Conditions related to Choline Deficiency
- Cardiovascular disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Failure to thrive in newborns
- Infertility and birth defects
- Memory issues
- Multiple sclerosis
The average dosage for choline is between 300 – 3500 mg, although it has been noted that benefits in memory issues such as Alzheimer’s are more pronounced at dosages closer to 5000 mg.
Choline has no known toxicity, except at exceedingly high doses (5000 mg to 10, 000+ mg.) The most prevalent side effect is gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhea and nausea. In some cases when high doses are used, a strong “fishy” smell is notice. This is known as trimethylaminuria and is due to the conversion of choline to trimethylamine (TMA) and it is the TMA that is produces the smell.
Now, although this fishy smell can happen to those using high dosages of choline, it should be noted that it can occur without choline supplementation as well. Albright rare, those with this condition lacks the enzyme to breakdown trimethylamine.
In the case of choline supplementation, one way to avoid this unpleasant side effect is to take phosphatidlycholine instead. However, the effects are not as pronounced as that of choline.
There was a study done where Alzheimer’s patients were given 9000 mg (9g) of choline citrate for twenty-one days with no reported negative side effects.
As with any substance, high dosages should be taken with care and professional supervision. The best way to determine how you will react to choline is to start by taking lower doses first and slowly increase over time.