What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Choline?

Choline has only recently been recognized as an essential nutrient. Choline is part of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a major role in the brain; for this reason, many studies have been designed to look at choline's role in brain function.

Choline functions as a part of a major biochemical process in the body called methylation; choline acts as a methyl donor. Until recently, it was thought that the body could use other substances to substitute for choline, such as folate , vitamins B 6 and B 12 , and the amino acid methionine . But recent evidence has finally shown that, for some people, adequate choline supplies cannot be maintained by other nutrients and must be obtained independently through diet or supplements. 1 2

A form of choline called choline alfoscerate has shown promise for Alzheimer's disease . 3 A substance related to choline called CDP-choline (or citicoline) may be slightly helpful for enhancing recovery from strokes . 4 Slight evidence hints that lecithin or pure choline may be helpful for people with bipolar disorder . 5 Lecithin has failed to prove effective for tardive dyskinesia . 6 Lecithin has also failed to prove effective for improving cholesterol profile levels. 7 Some evidence suggests that individuals with HIV who are low in choline may experience more rapid disease progression. 8 However, there is no direct evidence that choline supplements offer any benefit for people with HIV.

Numerous studies have found that diets very low in choline lead to...

Safety Issues

The tolerable upper intake of choline has been set at 3.5 g daily for adults. Tolerable upper intake is defined as: the highest daily intake over a prolonged time known to pose no risks to most members of a healthy population.

In higher dosages, minor but annoying side effects may occur, such as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and nausea. Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined.