The recommended daily intake of choline is 400-550 mg, while the upper safe dosage for healthy adults is 3,500 mg a day.
Health benefits of choline
Choline is vital for life. It’s an essential nutrient for proper liver, muscle, and brain functions. Also, choline is necessary for modulating gene expression, lipid metabolism and transport as well as cellular membrane composition, signaling and repair.
Furthermore, choline is crucial for the production of acetylcholine; an important neurotransmitter for memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions!
In addition, adequate amounts of choline seems to be beneficial for protecting cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, altering lipid profiles, and reducing plasma homocysteine levels. Too much choline may lead to adverse effects, though.
Moreover, choline may promote cognitive function in elderly adults. According to a study, participants with plasma free choline concentrations lower than 8.4 mcmol/L had poorer sensorimotor speed, perceptual speed, executive function, and global cognition than those with normal choline concentrations.
People with normal choline levels seem to have better verbal memory and visual memory as well. Choline might help support the structural integrity of neurons.
Also, adequate choline intake is needed for proper liver function and for preventing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Therefore, low plasma choline levels may have an impact on diseases such as liver disease, atherosclerosis as well as neurological disorders.
What’s the recommended daily intake?
We can produce small amounts of choline. But, the produced amounts aren’t enough to meet our daily needs. We have to obtain choline from food.
Men require higher dosages of choline than women. Adult men require 550 mg of choline a day, while women require only 425 mg.
Boys older than 14 years require 550 mg of choline as well. Teenager girls require only 400 mg of choline per day. Children between 9 and 13 years old should get 375 mg of choline in a day. Younger children require even lower doses.
Pregnant and lactating women have increased choline requirements. They should get 450 mg and 550 mg of choline per day, respectively. Choline is vital for early brain development.
In addition, we should follow a high-folate diet. If we don’t get enough folate, we have increased choline requirements. Both folate and choline are methyl donors. So, in a case of folate deficiency, more choline is required, as it becomes the primary methyl donor.
What’s the maximum dose of choline I can safely take a day?
The maximum safe dose of choline is 3,500 mg a day for healthy adults. Both for women and men.
Furthermore, the maximum safe dose of choline for teenagers is 3,000 mg a day.
Children between 9 and 13 years old shouldn’t get more than 2,000 mg of choline a day, while the upper safe dose for children between 1 and 8 years old is only 1,000 mg.
Always consult your physician before taking any dietary supplement.
In some cases, patients may require much higher dosages than the maximum safe intake. You can take extremely high dosages of choline only under medical supervision.
Do supplements exceed the maximum safe dose of choline?
Typical amounts of choline in dietary supplements range from 10 mg to 500 mg. Hence, dietary supplements don’t exceed the maximum safe dose of choline.
You’ll find a wide variety of choline supplements on iHerb.
Can I get too much choline from food?
You can’t possibly get too much choline from diet. Even if you regularly consume many foods high in choline. We may get too much choline only from dietary supplements.
Common foods high in choline
Actually, many foods are rich in choline.
The main dietary sources of choline in the United States are animal-based products. Eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are good dietary sources of choline.
Beef liver is the richest food in choline. But, you better avoid it. Beef liver is particularly high in vitamin A. It may cause vitamin A toxicity!
Eggs are great dietary sources of choline as well. An egg contains 169 mg of choline, or 30% DV (Daily Value). Moreover, eggs are good dietary sources of vitamin B12, vitamin D, and omega-3s! But, we should consume them in moderation, as they’re high in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Beef (117 mg per serving), chicken (72 mg), salmon (187 mg), tuna (25 mg), cod (71 mg), cow’s milk (43 mg), yogurt (38 mg), and cottage cheese (26 mg) are among the richest animal-based foods in choline.
But, there are many plant-based foods high in choline as well. In fact, cruciferous vegetables, certain beans, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are good dietary sources of choline.
For instance, soybeans (107 mg per serving), red potatoes (57 mg), kidney beans (45 mg), peas (24 mg), quinoa (43 mg), brown rice (19 mg), Brussels sprouts (32 mg), broccoli (31 mg), cauliflower (24 mg), cabbage (15 mg), shiitake mushrooms (27 mg), and peanuts (24 mg) are good plant-based dietary sources of choline.
Moreover, we could consume foods with lecithin. Lecithin is broken down into choline in the body. Common foods high in lecithin are eggs, soybeans, cow’s milk, peanuts, sunflower seeds, rapeseed, and whole grains.
Side effects of exceeding the daily upper dose of choline
Getting more choline than the upper safe dosage may cause side effects such as fishy body odor, vomiting, excessive sweating and salivation, hypotension, and even liver toxicity.
Most noteworthy, too much choline might increase cardiovascular disease risk! Actually, excess choline may increase production of TMAO, a substance that has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Do I need dietary supplements?
Actually, most people in the United States consume less choline than they need. It’s estimated that adult men consume only 402 mg of choline a day, while women consume only 278 mg.
Furthermore, as choline is found in high amounts in animal-based foods, vegetarians, vegans, and people who follow plant-based diets may have a greater risk of choline deficiency.
Therefore, it’s crucial to follow a healthy, well-balanced diet in order to get enough choline.
As pregnant women, women of childbearing age, vegetarians, and vegans are more likely to fail to meet the daily choline requirements, they may benefit from taking dietary supplements with choline.
Better check your choline levels and consult your physician before taking any dietary supplement. In healthy adults, the concentration of choline in plasma ranges from 7 to 20 mcmol/L.