Choline, a vital nutrient for many body functions such as nerve signaling, liver and muscle functioning, is essential for our health. Compared to omega-3s, which were discovered almost a century ago, the importance of choline intake is fairly new to the nutritional scene, but is becoming more recognized to assume its rightful place in the world of nutrition.
What is Choline?
Choline is an organic, water-soluble compound that is neither a vitamin nor a mineral. It is often grouped with the vitamin B complex due to its similar properties and functions. Most choline in the body is located in phospholipids (fat molecules) and the most common are called phosphatidylcholines (PC).
Choline in the diet
Although the body produces a small amount of choline on its own, we need to obtain the rest from our diets in order to help us meet optimal levels and maintain good health.
Choline is present in everyday foods such as eggs, milk, beef and chicken liver, high-quality wild-caught fish and shellfish, soybeans, broccoli and more, but some find it difficult to consume the recommended amounts through their diets. In fact, most people in Western countries fall short of the recommended daily amount of choline in their diet.
Are you getting enough choline? Probably not, but this is why you need it
Choline intake is actually below what is considered adequate in significant parts of the US and EU populations, as well as Japan. According to the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the current US daily value is 550 mg.
There are many health benefits of choline. Choline is vital to key health areas including the brain, liver and heart. When it comes to the brain, choline is a critical component of the building blocks of the nervous system, including neurotransmitters that are the basis for brain messaging. Furthermore, it has been shown to positively impact brain development. Choline supports lipid metabolism in the liver to keep it healthy. In addition to the brain and liver, choline helps to promote a healthy heart and cardiovascular system
Krill oil is a good source of choline
In addition to the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, choline is also an important nutrient found in krill oil. Aker BioMarine recently conducted a clinical study that proves krill oil is a good source of choline for humans. The study was performed as a randomized, placebo-controlled, monocentric, two-way cross-over pharmacokinetic study. In total,18 healthy volunteers took part in the study, whereof 12 subjects received the study products (choline bitartrate capsules providing 620 mg choline and 8g of Superba BoostTM, a krill oil concentrate product from Aker BioMarine providing 572 mg choline) and 6 subjects received the placebo control product (fish oil).
The study showed that krill oil is a safe, effective and well tolerated way to boost your necessary intake levels of choline, and it does not contribute to high plasma levels of TMAO, which is important for cardiovascular health.
Choline, sometimes referred to as ‘an underrated nutrient’ is essential for our health. It may not be on your radar, but it definitely should be.