Choline the newest official member of the B vitamin family, had its Adequate Intake levels (AIs) established for the first time by the National Academy of Sciences in 1998. Even though it has only recently been adopted into the official family of vitamins, choline has been the subject of nutritional investigations for almost 150 years.

Key research discoveries about choline came in the late 1930s, when scientists discovered that tissue from the pancreas contained a substance that could help prevent fatty build-up in the liver. This substance was named choline after the Greek word chole, which means bile. Since the 1930s, research has shown that choline is found not only in the pancreas and liver, but is also, in fact, a component of every human cell.
Research has also shown that the naming of choline after the Greek word for bile was highly appropriate. Bile, which is made in our liver, has the primary job of making fat compatible with water, so that fat-based substances can get transported around the body in the water-based world of our blood. Choline has very similar fat-modifying effects in the membranes of our cells. The fat-modifying properties of choline allow our cell membranes to operate with greater flexibility in handling both water- and fat-soluble molecules. Without choline, many fat-based nutrients and waste products could not pass in and out of our cells.
In addition to its uniqueness as a fat-modifying substance, choline is chemically unique as a trimethylated molecule. The term methylated means that a substance has at least one special chemical group - called a methyl group - attached to it. Choline is trimethylated, meaning three methyl groups are attached. Many important chemical events in the body are made possible by the transfer of methyl groups from place to place. Genes in the body can be turned on and turned off in this way, and cells often use this same process to send messages back and forth. In the area of mental health, where messages sent from nerve to nerve are especially critical, choline has turned out to be a substance of great interest. (Source:

What is Choline?

The N,N,N-trimethylethanolammonium cation, with an undefined counteranion, X−

A B-complex vitamin that is a constituent of lecithin understood to be essential in the metabolism of fat.

How is it Made?
The human body synthesizes some of the choline it needs, and people vary in their need for dietary choline. In one study, premenopausal women were less sensitive to a low-choline diet than men or postmenopausal women.

Where is it Found?
Egg yolks are the richest source of choline, followed by soybeans. Spinach, beets and whole wheat products are primary sources of betaine. (Olthof MR, van Vliet T, et al. J Nutr) Human milk has high levels of choline. The following have also found to be reliable sources of choline.

arw Beef liver - pan-fried - 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) - 418 mg

arw Whole large egg - 112 mg choline

arw Beef (ground) 80% lean/20% fat - 3.5 oz patty - 81 mg

arw Cauliflower - 3/4 C cooked (1" pieces) - 62 mg

arw Navy beans - 1/2 C cooked - 48 mg

arw Tofu - 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) - 28 mg

arw Almonds - sliced - 1/2 cup - 26 mg
arw Peanut butter - 2 T - 20 mg
 See Choline related videos:
video icon Choline:(video module – 2.00 minutes)
Product related PDF file
Choline - The Brain Booster
Phosphatidylcholine – A protector against liver damage

Benefits / Uses
It prevents accumulation of fats in the liver, prevent development of cirrhosis and degenerative changes in the kidneys.

Helps in the transmission of impulses.

For normal function of muscles.

Improves brain functions, especially memory among elders.

Asthma. Taking choline seems to lessen symptoms and the number of days that asthma is a problem for some people. It also seems to reduce the need to use bronchodilators. There is some evidence that higher doses of choline (3 grams daily) might be more effective than lower doses (1.5 grams daily).

Preventing neural tube defects, when taken by a mother around the time of conception. Some research indicates that women who get a lot of choline from their diet around the time of conception have a lower risk of having babies with a neural tube defect, compared to women with lower intake.

Choline serves various functions in our bodies – in the structure of cell membranes, protecting our livers from accumulating fat, as the precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and more. Because of rapid development in fetuses and infants, we have a great need for choline in our early lives.

Choline started to get the interest of nutrition researchers when it was found that fetal rats whose mothers didn't get enough choline in their diets had less brain development and poorer memories after birth than those whose mothers ate adequate amounts of the nutrient. Over the past few years, there has been a rush of research, and there are now hints that choline may be essential not only for the brain development of fetuses and infants, but may help prevent memory loss associated with aging (although attempts to reverse cognitive decline have not been encouraging). Choline has been shown to protect the liver from certain types of damage, and can help reverse damage that has already occurred. Additionally, it may help lower cholesterol and homocysteine levels associated with cardiovascular disease, and may also help protect against some types of cancers.


When To Take / Type to take

Choline supplements are best taken with a meal. Choline is available as choline bitartrate, choline chloride, phosphatidyl choline, and in lecithin (in form of phosphatidyl choline). Phosphatidyl choline is the best form to use for cognitive related functions (i,e memory).




Daily AI


0-6 mos

125 mg.


7-12 mos

150 mg


1-3 yrs

200 mg


4-8 yrs

250 mg


9-13 yrs

375 mg


14-18 yrs

550 mg


9-13 yrs

375 mg


14-18 yrs

440 mg



550 mg



425 mg



450 mg



550 mg


Possible Side-Effects / Precautions / Possible Interactions
Choline is likely safe for most adults and children when used appropriately.
High doses are possibly unsafe for adults and children. Doses over the Daily Upper Intake Levels (see dosage section below) are more likely to cause side effects such as sweating, a fishy body odor, gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea, and vomiting.
There is some concern that increasing dietary choline intake might increase the risk of cancer of the colon and rectum. One study found that women eating a diet that contains a lot of choline have an increased the risk of colon cancer. However, more research is still needed to determine the effects of diet on colon cancer.

Special Precautions & Warnings
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Choline is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth and used appropriately. Doses up to 3 grams daily for pregnant and breast-feeding women up to 18 years of age, and 3.5 grams daily for women 19 years and older are not likely to cause unwanted side-effects. There isn’t enough information available about the safety of choline used in higher doses in pregnant or lactating women. It’s best to stick to recommended doses.

Research Studies / References
Natural Health: Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, essential for memory and cognition. Also, it is a phospholipid that helps promote neuronal membrane fluidity, which is important for communication between brain cells. One form of this fat, phosphatidyl choline, is the active ingredient in lecithin--an emulsifier commonly found in processed foods, and derived from either soy or animal sources. In the brain, phosphatidyl choline also plays a role in repairing and maintaining neurons. According to Khalsa, most people ingest about 1,000 mg of lecithin every day as part of a normal diet, but that amount is not sufficient to promote optimal brain function throughout life.
Choline, in its various forms, is widely reputed to enhance cognition and memory not only in people with mild memory impairment, but in normal healthy people as well.

Many studies have been conducted on choline. In one early clinical study published in the journal Science in 1978, subjects demonstrated improved performance on intelligence and memory tests after ingesting choline.

arw Better Nutrition: Choline. Research in animals suggests that dietary intake of choline early in life can diminish the severity of memory deficits in aged animals. Within our cells, choline is translated into the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which is vital for efficient brain function and communication.(Cippoli, C. and Chiari, G. "Effects of L-Acetylcholine on Mental Deterioration of the Aged," Clinica Terapeutica 132L:429-510, March 31, 1990.)
Choline is made by the liver, but not in high enough quantities to satisfy all of our needs, so I advise supplementation. This is particularly important as we age.
Lecithin, a phospholipid found in such foods as soybeans, egg yolks, and liver, is an especially rich source of choline. Lecithin breaks down fat and is particularly
important in coping with fatty deposits in blood vessels.
Mice fed lecithin or phosphatidylcholine in an Ohio State University study showed far better memory for solving the passages of a maze than did mice not given this supplement.
Viewed with high-powered instrumentation, their brains "looked" much younger than those of the controls and had more flexible cell membranes and fewer fatty deposits. Rigid, fat-clogged cell membranes are less able to take in oxygen and nutrients and to discharge carbon dioxide and wastes.

arw The Linus Pauling Institute: Although choline is not by strict definition a vitamin, it is an essential nutrient. Despite the fact that humans can synthesize it in small amounts, choline must be consumed in the diet to maintain health . The majority of the body's choline is found in specialized fat molecules known as phospholipids, the most common of which is called phosphatidylcholine or lecithin. .
Function: Structural integrity of cell membranes Cell signaling Nerve impulse transmission. Choline is a precursor for acetylcholine,
an important neurotransmitter, involved in muscle control, memory, and many other functions.
Lipid (fat) transport and metabolism: Phosphatidylcholine is a required component of VLDL particles. Without adequate phosphatidylcholine, fat and cholesterol accumulate in the liver.
Disease Prevention:Cognitive functioning (memory):Increased dietary intake of choline very early in life can diminish the severity of memory deficits in aged rats. Choline supplementation of the mothers of unborn rats, as well as rat pups during the first month of life, leads to improved performance in spatial memory tests months after choline supplementation has been discontinued. The significance of these findings to humans is not yet known. More research is needed to determine the role of choline in the developing brain, and whether choline intake is useful in the prevention of memory loss or dementia in humans.
Safety: Toxicity: High doses (10 to 16 grams/day) of choline have been associated with a fishy body odor, vomiting, salivation, and increased sweating. The FNB noted that individuals with liver or kidney disease, Parkinson's disease, depression, and a genetic disorder known as trimethylaminuria might be at increased risk of adverse effects when consuming choline at levels near the UL
Reviewed by:
Steven H. Zeisel, M.D., Ph.D. Professor and Chair of Nutrition- School of Public Health
The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

arw The importance of the nutrient choline was emphasized a few years ago when the National Academy of Sciences classified it as an “essential nutrient.” A study by Dr. Steven Zeisel (1991) from the Department of Nutrition of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill demonstrated that volunteers on a choline-deficient diet were not able to produce enough of this nutrient to maintain health. This demonstrated that choline must be obtained from the diet. Choline is used in the synthesis of structural components of all human cell membranes and is a precursor of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter involved in muscle control, memory, and many other functions.
Choline and amino acids such as L-glutamine, acetyl-L-carnitine, and phenylalanine have been shown to yield benefits to brain function. It’s a testament to the investigative powers of science, and a boon to our bodies, that the precise nutritional compounds needed to maintain healthy memory and thinking have been illuminated.