By: Kasia Ciaston
Today we have another blog by our Dietetic Intern Kasia Ciaston.
Early research conducted on choline from the 1930’s established the link between low choline and liver/muscle damage. Since then, choline has been deemed as an essential nutrient and the latest evidence demonstrates the increased significance of choline throughout the lifecycle. Data collectedby the 2005 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that 90% of the U.S. population was consuming less than adequate amounts of dietary choline. Although choline is produced internally, there are sub-populations with increased requirements due to genetic variations. A recent article in Nutrition Today explains emerging research demonstrating the vitality of choline consumption at all stages of life.
Choline requirements during pregnancy and lactation are particularly high. Choline is present in high concentrations in amniotic fluid and breast milk which in turn increases maternal demand for the nutrient. A low of intake of choline in this population has been linked to preeclampsia, premature births, and very low birth weights. Emerging science shows that like folic acid, low choline intake doubles the risk of neural tube defects
In animal studies conducted with rats, low choline intake during pregnancy was linked to long-term cognitive impairment. Rats consuming adequate choline exhibited slower declines in memory and attention.
Studies suggest that choline-sensitivity continues after birth into infancy. Adequate choline during this stage may enhance brain development, memory, and learning abilities later on in life.
Increased amounts of homocysteine in the body have been linked to higher risks for cardiovascular disease, bone fractures, cancer, and cognitive impairment. Due to the essential role of choline in the breakdown of homocysteine among other metabolic markers – choline has been tagged as playing potential roles in reduced inflammation and cardiovascular risk
The implications of choline within the health care field are far and wide. The importance of choline throughout the lifecycle is becoming more prominent, but more research is still needed to substantiate its claims to fame.