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Choline is an essential water-soluble nutrient, and considered part of the B vitamin complex. The body makes choline in small amounts but it is essential to obtain enough to meet the body's needs through the diet or adequate supplementation. Choline is found predominantly as phosphatidylcholine in beef liver, wheat germ and eggs, so vegetarians and vegans may be at risk of deficiency.
Choline is a very important, but little known, vitamin.
- Choline contributes to normal homocysteine metabolism. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the blood which is produced when the body breaks down an amino acid called methionine. It should break down to cystathione which is then excreted out of the body. High levels of homocysteine can thicken and damage the walls of arteries. High homocysteine has been found in some people with autism. Choline is a precursor for the formation of betaine. Betaine acts as a methyl donor in the re-methylation of homocysteine in the liver by the enzyme betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase. Choline depleted diets tend to increase plasma concentrations of homocysteine. One human intervention study showed a significant decrease in plasma concentration of homocysteine following choline administration.
- Choline contributes to normal lipid metabolism. Choline is a precursor of phospholipids and plays a role in the structural integrity and fluidity of cell membranes. The predominant phospholipid in the cell wall is phosphatidylcholine. Cells need these phospholipids constantly for normal function.
- Choline contributes to the maintenance of normal liver function.
- Choline also plays a role in lipid and cholesterol transport and metabolism.
- Dietary fat and cholesterol are transported to the liver by lipoproteins called chylomicrons. In the liver the fat and cholesterol are packaged into very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) so that they can be transported through the blood to needy tissues. Phosphatidylcholine is needed as a component of VDLPs and fat can accumulate in the liver without enough phosphatidylcholine (fatty liver = hepatosteatosis). Choline deficiency is also associated with liver damage (elevated serum alanine aminotransferase activity). Studies where humans have developed fatty liver as a result of a choline deficient diet, have shown a complete reversal with the administration of sufficient dietary choline.
This makes choline a vitally important nutrient not only in the adult but also in the developing foetus and child. For this reason Metabolics includes Choline in the Preconception and Antenatal formulations.
People taking methotrexate used in treatment of psoriasis, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis have an increased choline requirement. There is no RDA or Upper Limit at present although the Linus Pauling Institute recommends 550mg/day for men and 425mg women.
Each 600mg capsule Metabolics Choline bitartrate supplies 240mg Choline, so recommended daily intake is 1 capsule a day with food.
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