Choline: Food sources, Benefits, Side Effects & Deficiency

When counting essential nutrition, you would probably skip this one. However, your brain, liver, and each cell in your body want it. Your brain cells use it in order to make the memory-boosting neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Read on to learn everything about choline!

What’s Choline?

Choline is a nutrient most of us need for optimum health. Even though the body creates some, we will need to get choline out of a diet to prevent deficiency. You will sometimes find choline classified as a vitamin B, but it doesn’t actually belong to this category.

Reducing Intake of Sulfur Amino Acids Cuts Risk of Heart Disease | Nutrition Review

Choline plays crucial roles in:

  1. Cellular health: assembles phospholipids that give structure to cell membranes
  2. Brain and nerve health: build acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential for cognition, emotion, and other essential functions
  3. DNA production: combined with folate and vitamin B12
  4. Signaling: assembles molecules that act as cell messengers
  5. Heart wellness: helps remove homocysteine, which increases the risk of heart disease



  • Help prevent fatty liver
  • May enhance cognition
  • Supports fetal development
  • May Aid with asthma
  • Safe for children and pregnant women


  • Can cause fishy odor and nausea
  • May not enhance mental health and athletic performance
  • May not assist with motion disorders
  • Could be associated with Cardiovascular Disease and some cancers

Choline Foods & Deficiency

Daily Needs

The Institute of Medicine has just acknowledged choline as an essential nutrient. They recommend the next daily intakes:

  • Mature men: 550 mg/day
  • Adult females: 425 mg/day
  • Pregnant girls: 450 mg/day
  • Nursing women: 550 mg/day

These are in line with sufficient daily intakes developed by the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

Deficiency Symptoms and Risk Groups

Most individuals don’t get enough choline in their diets. Possible symptoms of choline deficiency include:

  • Poor memory and focus (cognitive dysfunction)
  • Liver problems (like fatty liver)
  • Mood imbalances
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Lower endurance in athletes

Fortunately, The typical symptoms are rare, regardless of the widespread lower intake. This is probably because of the ability of our liver to create certain amounts of choline.

Groups of people at a greater risk of choline deficiency comprise:

  • Postmenopausal women
  • Persistent alcohol users
  • Pregnant girls
  • People with certain genetic variations
  • Athletes
  • Individuals on intravenous nutrition

Choline is an important methyl donor for assorted methylation reactions. If a diet is low in folate, yet another methyl donor, choline demands increase.

It ends up those omnivores on unrestricted diets and vegans/vegetarians are at precisely the same threat of choline deficiency. Carnivores and heavy meat eaters may be at reduced risk, while those who regularly eat eggs are likely to satisfy their choline needs.

Choline is a vital nutrient, and lack can cause issues with memory, focus, liver function, and tiredness.

Food Sources

The very best choline food sources include beef liver, eggs, chicken, and legumes (Table 1).


Table 1: Choline Food Resources

Food                                          Serving size                   Milligrams (mg) a serving               % of Daily Value
Beef liver, fried                          3 oz                                               356                                                               65
Egg, challenging –boiled         1 large                                          147                                                                27
Soybeans roasted                       1/2 cup                                        107                                                                19
Chicken breast, roasted            3 ounces                                       72                                                                13
Codfish, cooked                          3 ounces                                       71                                                                 13
Shiitake mushrooms cooked    1/2 cup                                         58                                                                11
Red potatoes baked                    1 large                                           57                                                                10
Beans, kidney, canned               1/2 cup                                          45                                                                8

For instance, you would need to eat about 3 oz of beef liver or 1-2 eggs every day to satisfy the everyday requirements.

Choline Benefits

The Possible benefits listed below refer especially to research with choline. We talk about the benefits of its other forms in our posts about alpha-GPC and citicoline.

Additionally, Remember that the Potential advantages of greater choline intake may not necessarily translate to choline supplements. Speak with your health care provider prior to taking choline supplements. They can not substitute medical care for any medical state.

Likely Effective:

The Potential benefits listed within this section are backed up by strong clinical signs, but the regulatory bodies still haven’t accepted the utilization of choline for these conditions.

1) Fatty Liver

Choline Builds phosphatidylcholine, which can help break down fats in the liver. Therefore, low choline levels may lead to fat accumulation in the liver.

A large Chinese observational trial (over 56,000 individuals ), a greater intake of choline lowered the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) but only in normal-weight women.

In 54 healthy adults, low-choline diets increased the possibility of autoimmune disease and other liver issues. The introduction of choline in their diets reversed these effects.

Another trial with 57 adults affirmed that low-choline diets might lead to fatty liver, particularly in postmenopausal women.

People On total parenteral (intravenous) nutrition are at a higher risk of fatty liver due to choline deficiency. Doctors can successfully prevent it by adding intravenous choline.

In most animal studies, higher choline intake and choline supplementation could:

  • Prevent and reverse fatty liver
  • Boost cholesterol metabolism
  • Block oxidative damage and liver scarring
  • Avoid cell mutations and liver cancer

Dietary choline is required to maintain wholesome liver function, and people who eat more choline seem less likely to develop liver disease.

Possibly Effective:

The Potential benefits in this section stem from low carb clinical trials, animal, and cell-based studies. They are not researched well enough to urge choline supplements for some of the below conditions.

2) Cognition

Choline assembles the protective myelin sheath around neurons and restores the amount of acetylcholine. This effect may keep cognitive decline at bay.

In just two observational studies of 3,400 people, choline intake was positively associated with cognitive performance.

A Review of 50 clinical trials concluded that”choline might have beneficial effects on cognition, but high quality (intervention) research has been lacking”.

In studies on rats and mice, choline supplementation was able to:

  • Reverse memory loss Brought on by prenatal iron lack
  • Improve stroke healing (with B vitamins)
  • Enhance cognitive abilities and coordination
  • Protect the mind against seizure-induced damage

3) Asthma

Six-month Choline supplementation (1,500 milligrams, twice day) brought a significant symptom relief and reduced inflammation in 74 asthmatic patients. Two more studies came to a similar conclusion but didn’t reveal the number of participants.

In animal models of asthma, choline reduced inflammation and oxidative stress whilst enhancing lung function.

Choline supplementation decreased asthma symptoms in one clinical research, but we want stronger clinical evidence before advocating choline as a complementary approach to asthma.

4) Fetal Development

Choline is vital during fetal development, yet many pregnant women do not have sufficient intakes.

Brain Development and Cognition

Multiple Reviews of animal and human trials have proclaimed choline a very important nutrient for fetal brain development. Optimal choline intake during pregnancy:

  • Ensures proper brain structure and functioning
  • May improve memory and cognition
  • Prevents birth defects and mental disorders

A clinical trial of 26 pregnant ladies, doubling the choline intake in the third trimester (to 930 mg/day) significantly improved the infants’ cognition.

According To observational research with nearly 900 mothers, higher choline intake in the 2nd trimester might enhance visual memory in children.

But, A study of 1,210 participants concluded that maternal choline intake (through the 1st and 2nd trimesters) wasn’t correlated with their children’s cognition at three decades of age.

In various animal trials, prenatal choline supplementation may:

  • Boost Immune brain development
  • Stimulate the enzymes that control learning and memory
  • Shield the organs against brain damage
  • Relieve inflammation

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Alcohol Consumption during pregnancy can cause a range of physical and mental disorders in the offspring, collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

A Review of 10 Ukrainian studies concluded that prenatal supplementation with choline (750 mg daily) could improve cognition in babies exposed to alcohol during pregnancy.

In 69 pregnant women who have been heavy drinkers, choline supplementation (two g/day) enhanced the development of babies and reduced their cognitive impairments.

Studies On rats and other animals confirmed the beneficial effects of choline supplementation on alcohol-induced fetal damage. The offspring of supplemented mothers showed fewer cognitive defects and had improved coordination.

Neural Tube Defects

Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) are severe birth defects that occur when the neural tube fails to close completely during embryonic growth. Folate is the most studied supplement for the prevention of NTDs, but other nutrients such as choline may also play critical roles.

Choline supports fetal spinal cord development, which can help prevent neural tube defects and other anomalies.

In A trial of over 180,000 participants, the offspring of mothers with the cheapest choline intake had 2.4x higher levels of NTDs. The result was independent of folic acid supplementation.

Another Observational study (860 mothers) came to a similar decision. NTDs rates dropped multiple times for the highest vs. lowest consumption of choline, betaine, and methionine.

However, Two trials with over 1,700 participants failed to set up a connection between choline intake during pregnancy and NTDs.

Increased choline intake while pregnant may encourage fetal growth, enhance cognition, and prevent birth defects. Larger well-designed clinical trials should explore this further.

Insufficient Evidence:

No Legitimate clinical evidence supports the utilization of choline supplements for some of the conditions in this part. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal research, cell-based study, or low-quality clinical trials that ought to spark a further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.

5) Mental Health

Few studies have demonstrated that choline could aid with bipolar disease in kids; it may be a helpful addition to medication treatment.

In A tiny clinical trial, 5/6 patients with bipolar disease experienced notable symptom improvements with choline treatment combined with standard treatment.

Choline Supplementation (50 mg/kg daily for 12 weeks) reduced the brain purine degrees in eight patients with bipolar disease, which may explain its potentially beneficial consequences.

In a study of nearly 6,000 participants, lower blood levels of choline were associated with stress symptoms. Still, this will not tell us much about the potential effects of choline on anxiety.

Reduced blood choline levels are associated with worse anxiety symptoms, and choline supplementation has improved psychological health in limited clinical trials.

6) Weight reduction

Many nutritional supplements are Encouraged to stimulate weight loss, but valid clinical research has debunked most of these claims. A wholesome, calorie-controlled diet and increased physical activity remain your greatest allies in weight management.

In A clinical trial with 22 female athletes, choline supplementation (2 grams per day, 7 days before a competition) reduced body mass index (BMI) by 12 percent with no side effects on their functionality.

In accordance with an observational trial over 3,200 topics, lower dietary choline intake was connected with:

  • More body fat
  • Increased weight
  • Greater body mass index
  • Greater waist-to-hip ratio

In other words, people who consumed more choline were less likely to become obese.

A Study on obese mice confirmed the potential of choline to stimulate weight reduction by improving mitochondrial function and fat burning.

However, a review of 50 clinical trials reported inconsistent effects of choline in body composition.

The effect of choline on body composition is unknown because of several studies with contradictory consequences. Choline deficiency was associated with much more body fat and greater BMI, nevertheless.


In accordance with limited clinical evidence from low carb clinical trials, choline can also help with:

  • Cystic fibrosis (rare genetic lung disease)
  • Tardive dyskinesia (a movement disorder caused by antipsychotic drugs)

Still, there’s insufficient evidence to proclaim choline supplements safe and effective for these states.

Possibly Ineffective For

A couple of smaller, low carb clinical studies have found no significant effects of choline for:

  • Different motion disorders (ataxia)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Athletic performance
  • Memory reduction in the elderly

Heart Disease and Stroke

Choline supplies methyl groups essential for converting homocysteine to methionine. Low levels of choline may thus cause homocysteine buildup, which increases the chance of heart disease and stroke in some people.

In nearly 4,000 African American patients, a greater intake of choline reduced the risk of stroke.

On the other hand, increased consumption of choline-rich foods raises the level of a toxic metabolite: trimethylamine–N–oxide (TMAO).

High TMAO blood levels are correlated with a two. 5 times increased risk of stroke and heart attack, however, this is more pronounced in people with additional risk factors such as diabetes, kidney disease, and high blood pressure.

According To the statistics in over 120,000 adults, greater choline intake was correlated with as much as 26% higher cardiovascular mortality (from heart disease and stroke).

All in all, the effects of dietary choline on cardiovascular health are inconsistent, plus also a summary of 50 clinical trials came to the conclusion. Further study is warranted.

The relationship between choline and cardiovascular health isn’t well known. A number of studies have found that choline is required for heart function, but others have correlated higher choline intake with worse cardiovascular health effects.


Breast Cancer

In two observational trial of over 4,000 women, greater choline intake was associated with lower rates of breast cancer.

Colon Cancer

In a study of 1700+ patients, the maximum choline intake correlated with almost twice lower prices of colon cancer.

But, A big observational trial with over 39,000 girls revealed the opposite outcomes. Women with the maximum choline intake had 45 percent greater rates of colon cancer. The authors noted that other components of choline-rich creature foods probably contributed to the effect.

In over 47,000 men, there was no connection between choline intake and colon cancer.

Prostate Cancer

An observational trial with over 45,000 men, those with the highest choline intake had 70% higher rates of deadly prostate cancer.

Higher choline blood levels have been associated with elevated levels of prostate cancer in 1,500 patients.

High dietary intake of choline may be associated with lower levels of breast cancer but high levels of prostate cancer. The connection with colon cancer is also inconsistent. These findings need further investigation.

Limitations and Caveats

Choline Supplementation may not supply all the perks of optimal dietary intake. Clinical trials using choline supplements are rare and include notable limits such as:

  • Lack of placebo controls
  • Small sample size
  • Poor research design

In addition to this, the potential adverse effects of greater choline intake mentioned above involve extra caution.

Choline Supplements

Some potential health benefits, choline supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use. In general, regulatory bodies are not assuring the quality, safety, and efficacy of supplements. Speak with your doctor before supplementing.

The most common supplements are pills with 350 — 500 milligrams of choline bitartrate. Other available forms include:

  • Bulk powders
  • Choline and inositol (250 — 400 mg per day )
  • Choline-enriched multivitamin supplements

Most Manufacturers source choline from soybean and eggs — read the labels carefully in case you are allergic to these foods or avoid animal products. Vegan-friendly supplements are available.

Additional choline-containing supplements include:

Our detailed reviews will allow you to compare the potential benefits and downsides of each one.

Choline supplements can be found as citicoline, alpha-GPC, phosphatidylcholine, or lecithin. Each has its own potential advantages and drawbacks.

Negative Effects & Dangers

The Below summary of potential side effects may not be a definite one. Work with your doctor to evaluate if choline supplements would be safe for you and decide the best dosage based on your wellbeing condition.

Choline Supplementation has been safe from clinical trials and brought only minor side effects such as the upset stomach, fishy odor, and diarrhea.

According To the FDA, choline as a nutritional supplement is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). The upper limit for choline intake in healthy adults is 3,500 mg/day.

Contrary to Others, choline supplements appear to be safe for kids, infants, and pregnant women. Still, these sensitive groups should utilize them only under strict medical supervision.

As mentioned previously, improved dietary intake of choline may correlate with cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer; the warning is justified.

Choline is an essential nutrient and generally recognized as safe as a supplement up to 3500 mg per day.


Choline is usually dosed within a range of 500 — 2000 mg/afternoon.

Prenatal doses of 930 mg/day Were used throughout the 3rd trimester (total ingestion ). Varying doses were able to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (2 g/day throughout the second half of pregnancy or 750 mg/day throughout the whole pregnancy).

People typically use doses of 1 — 2 gram /day for enhancing brain health and cognition, although clinical studies have not endorsed this up.

Should you’re just starting out using choline supplements, it’s wise to work together with your physician, begin slow, and track your answer over time.

User Reviews

The Opinions expressed in this section are solely in the users that might or might not have a medical background. Their testimonials do not reflect the opinions of us. We don’t endorse any specific solution, service, or treatment.

Do not believe user Experiences as medical information. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your health care provider or another professional health care provider because of something you’ve read on this website.

Most Users report favorable effects of choline supplements for memory, mental clarity, and energy. Some also find them useful for liver function, asthma, and weight control.

Women report the advantages of choline + inositol for PCOS, conception, and hair growth.

Fishy body odor and nausea are the most common side effects. Some customers experienced no benefits for cognition and weight loss.


Choline Is a vital nutrient that protects and supports the liver, nerves, brain, and much more. Despite its significance, many people worldwide are not meeting their choline requirements.

Professional athletes, alcohol Drinkers, postmenopausal women, and pregnant women have increased needs for choline. The best food sources are beef liver, eggs, chicken, whole grains, and beans.

Choline can help prevent fatty liver, enhance The signs of asthma, and encourage cognition and fetal development. There is insufficient evidence for psychological health and weight loss, while it probably can’t help with movement disorders and athletic performance.

More research is needed before proclaiming choline supplements secure and Effective for any health condition, particularly given that they may Be associated with high rates of heart disease and some cancers.