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Healthy Foods that Contain Choline
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Jan 05, 2005
Although choline is not a vitamin or mineral, it is an essential nutrient for your health. Your body can make small amounts of choline from other nutrients, but you need to have reliable sources of choline in your diet to be at your best. Choline in your body is found mainly in specialized fat molecules called lecithin.
What Does Choline Do in Your Body?
- Helps to produce fat that provides structure to your cells
- Is a part of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter needed for the health of your nervous system
- Helps to transport fat and cholesterol to your cells thereby preventing the accumulation of fat and cholesterol in your liver
- Converts to trimethylglycine, which helps to reduce your homocysteine level, lowering your risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease, and many degenerative diseases
Here are some healthy, whole food sources of choline:
|Whole Food Sources||Serving||Choline (mg)|
|Beef liver, pan fried||3 ounces||355|
|Organic egg||1 large||126|
|Organic beef, cooked||3 ounces||66|
|Brussel sprouts, cooked||1 cup||63|
|Wild salmon||3 ounces||56|
|Organic peanut butter||2 tablespoons||20|
Signs of Deficiency
- A fatty liver
- Unexplained nerve problems like tingling and numbness
- High homocysteine score despite adequate intake of B vitamins
In the past, many people obtained adequate amounts of choline from eggs. As people have turned away from eggs due to misinformation on the relationship between eggs and blood cholesterol, choline deficiencies have become more common.
|Adequate Intake (AI) - 1998|
|Life Stage||Age||Males(mg/day)||Females (mg/day)|
|Adults||19-years and older||550||420|
As long as you obtain choline from whole foods and avoid supplements, there is very little risk of consuming toxic levels of choline. I believe that it is far better to get your choline from whole foods than from the wide variety of lecithin supplements on the market.
Diagnostic Test for Choline
If you suspect that you are deficient in choline, you should have a blood test done for your liver enzymes. Elevated liver enzymes (AST and ALT) are a sign of a fatty liver, which is a cardinal sign of a choline deficiency in the absence of chronic alcoholism.
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