Why? Some omnivores are wondering where we get our choline from! (At least it keeps them from asking the same about protein, am I right?!?)
So let’s talk choline:
Choline was only just discovered and acknowledged as a required nutrient in 1998.
Choline is considered to be a quasi-vitamin because it does not meet all of the criteria of vitamin status. It is a dietary nutrient that is used as a structural component of the cell membranes of phospholipids and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Our livers can make some choline but we still need to get some from the foods we eat.
The importance of choline intake varies throughout the lifecycle. For instance, if a pregnant woman is indeed deficient (very rare), there is a correlation with certain infant birth defects like neural tube defects, cleft lip, and cardiac defects.
The cognitive and neuroprotection effect of choline observed in animal studies has also been studied in humans, but the results are inconsistent and more research is needed.
How do we get our choline?
Human milk is loaded with choline and is considered to be the optimal food source for human infants. Maternal choline intake may affect the concentration of choline in breast milk. Infant formulas are fortified with choline.
The Adequate Intake (AI) for choline varies with age. For example:
Infants 0-6 months need about 125mg/day and are easily able to obtain this from breastmilk or formula
Children aged 4-8 years need about 250mg/day
Adults over 19 need about 425mg/day (women) & 550mg/day (men)
Pregnant woman should take in about 450mg/day
While animal products are high in choline, there are plenty of plant-based sources out there:
½ cup Roasted Soybeans 107mg
½ Cup Cooked Shitake Mushrooms 58mg
1 Cup Soy Milk 57mg
3 oz. Almonds: 53mg
1 Cup Cooked Quinoa 43mg
3 oz. Broccoli 40 mg
½ Cup Tofu 35mg
3 oz. Baked Beans 31mg
3 oz. Red Potato 19mg
1 Cup Brown Rice 19mg
½ Cup Mandarin Orange Slices 10mg
There are smaller, but substantial, amounts of choline in other foods including oats, cauliflower, pinto beans, tomato sauce, whole wheat bread and peanut butter.
In summary, choline is a fairly ubiquitous nutrient and we rarely see deficiencies in the general public. People who may be at risk of choline deficiency include endurance athletes, alcoholics, postmenopausal and pregnant women. As in most cases, too much of a good thing is not always good. Too much choline could increase your risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
The Institute of Medicine identifies Registered Dietitian Nutritionists as qualified professionals for nutrition therapy. According to the IOM, the RDN is a health-care professional with standardized education...
A few years ago I attended the first annual Plant-Based Prevention of Disease (P-POD) Conference wherein physicians, dietitians, researchers, and other health care professionals gathered to discuss evidence-based data on the benefits of prescribing a whole food plant-based lifestyle. We had all heard by then that chronic diseases such as...