Choline, choline, choline…

What are you?

We are sure you have lots of questions flowing in your head.

This article will give you what you need to know about it.

Choline is an essential nutrient that is naturally present in some foods and available as a dietary supplement. This is a newly discovered nutrient, although your body is capable of making some, it is important to get it from your diet to avoid deficiency.

It is an essential nutrient means it is required for normal body function and human health. This is neither a vitamin nor mineral, it is similar to vitamin B complex and affects some vital bodily functions.

The bodily functions include:
  • Metabolism: It helps metabolize fats.
  • Cell messaging: it is involved in the production of compounds that acts as cell messengers.
  • DNA synthesis: choline and other vitamins, such as folate and B12, help with a process that’s important for DNA synthesis.
  • Cell maintenance: the body makes use of it to produce fats that make up cellular membranes.
  • Nervous system functioning: the body converts acetylcholine into a neurotransmitter that affects the nerves and plays a role in regulating automatic bodily functions, such as breathing, muscle development, and heart rate.

It is commonly used for a buildup of fats in the liver (hepatic steatosis) in people receiving nutrition through the vein. The body needs it to synthesize phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin which are two major phospholipids vital for cell membranes.

Humans produce choline in the liver mostly phosphatidylcholine, but the amount produced by the body is not sufficient to meet human needs. As a result, humans must obtain choline from diets.

Phosphatidylcholine accounts for about 95% of total choline in tissues. Sphingomyelin is a type of sphingosine containing phospholipid (Sphingolipid). It is synthesized by the transfer of a phosphocholine residue from phosphatidylcholine to a ceramide. Sphingomyelin is found in cell membranes and in the fatty sheath that envelops myelinated nerve fibers. The choline-containing phospholipids, phosphatidylcholine, and sphingomyelin are precursors for the intracellular messenger molecules, diacylglycerol, and ceramide.

Choline exists in two forms. They are water-soluble and fat-soluble molecules. It is absorbed and transported by the body depending on its form. The fat-soluble form is gotten from dietary sources. These are being absorbed by the body in the gastrointestinal tract, while the water-soluble choline molecules go to the liver, where the body converts them into a type of fat called LECITHIN. Some multivitamins and dietary supplements, as well as fortified foods, may contain it in form of lecithin. It also supports brain development and growth in newborn babies.


Choline can be gotten from various dietary sources. A large amount of choline is required by infants, and most of it is gotten from breast milk.

The adults get choline from their diet.

Examples of dietary sources of choline:
  • Vegetables e.g. broccoli, mushrooms, etc.
  • Proteins e.g. eggs, fish, soya beans, beef, etc.
  • Grains e.g. rice, wheat bread, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds.

It is important to note that the amount needed by an individual depends on the individual. Many people do fine with more while some do fine with less.

Here is a recommended daily Al of choline consumption for different age groups.
Age group Male female
0-1 year 120-125mg/day 125-150mg/day
1-3 years 200mg/day 200mg/day
4-8 years 250mg/day 250mg/day
9-13 years 375mg/day 375mg/day
14-19+ years 550mg/day 400-425mg/day

Breast feeding women: 550mg/day

Pregnant women: 930mg/day

Pregnant women, those who are lactating, and people who have genetic alterations that increase the body’s demand for it which may result in a higher risk of choline deficiency.

Choline deficiency may lead to:
  • Muscle damage.
  • Neural tube irregularities.
  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Alzheimer’s disease an example of a neurological condition.


When it is taken orally it is likely safe for most adults if it is taken in the right proportion, but taking a high dose of it is harmful.

One should take meals that contain choline (vegetables, proteins, grains, nuts, and seeds) this is because it is needed in the body for various activities which we have seen in the article. Also note that taking too much can cause vomiting, hypertension, sweating, liver toxicity, excessive salivation, etc.