Choline is a nutrient needed for the brain to produce a key neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is synthesized from choline and involved in memory, circadian rhythm and muscle control. Each of these specific functions contribute to the impact it has on cardiovascular health, liver diseases, neural tube defects and cognitive health.
There are synapses between nerves throughout the brain that rely on acetylcholine to communicate. Scientists have found using drugs that inhibit levels of enzymes that break down acetylcholine increases acetylcholine in the brain, and this has proven useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Further many drugs, including most over the counter allergy medications, have an anticholinergic action meaning they cause decreases in acetylcholine. Research has proven that regular intake of these medications increases the risk of dementia in people 55 years and older.
To make matters worse studies have show that up to 90% of US Citizens have a choline deficiency. When you combine deficient choline intake from diet with commonly used drugs that deplete acetylcholine you set-up the perfect storm for dementia! The good news is that with targeted eating or supplementation it is easy to take in adequate choline levels to help prevent dementia!
There are several foods with high levels of choline. The food with the highest level of choline is liver with a whopping 356mg per 3 ounces. Another food with high levels is egg yolks. Beef, seafood, and poultry are also good sources of choline. Unfortunately, many of these foods, such as egg yolks, have been unfairly demonized and incorrectly connected with causing high blood cholesterol. This is NOT the case! One egg yolk contains about 130mg of choline which is 25% – 30% of your daily requirement.
For adults the daily requirement is 400mg for female and 545 mg for males.
Another way to ensure adequate choline intake is to supplement. There are four types of choline supplements. Plain choline and choline bitartrate are the least expensive but do not support production of acetylcholine as well as DFP-choline aka citicoline or Alpha GPC choline.