Most people know the importance of eating well, exercising, and looking after their health. However, knowing and doing are two different things, and it can be a balancing act. You have to make sure you’re getting the right vitamins and minerals, enough sleep, enough water, enough of everything.
And while most people know they need iron, fibre, vitamin C, and similar, how familiar are you with choline? Believe it or not, this lesser-known nutrient is more important for your nutritional balance than you think.
Choline is in eggs, dairy, fish, and meat, and while your liver can produce it too, most of it needs to come from what we eat. Men require around 550mg per day, while women need 425mg – and more if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
A single hardboiled egg offers 113mg, which would make you assume that most people get enough of this nutrient. The truth is, they aren’t. A National Health and Nutrition survey showed that 90 percent of adults, children, and pregnant women are not getting the recommended dosage every day.
Your body needs choline to regulate your muscle control, moods, and memory. It’s paramount for your brain and nervous system, and also helps to form membranes around the cells in your body.
What Food Should I Consume?
If you know you need to consume more choline-rich food, then the next step is deciding which options are the best. Fish, such as salmon, is an excellent source of choline, as are egg yolks, dairy products, and meat. The best source by far, however, is an egg.
One large egg can offer as much as a quarter of a pregnant woman’s choline requirements and over half of a child’s between the age of four and eight.
What If I’m Vegan?
Given that the best sources of choline come from animal products, it’s challenging for vegans and vegetarians to get as much choline as they need. Broccoli, wheat germ, peanuts, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower all contain choline, but in small doses. Vegans and vegetarians may need to talk to their GP about supplements to meet their body’s daily requirements.
Choline and Brain Conditions
Several studies over the years have shown a genuine connection between reduced risks of brain conditions and enough choline in your diet. Choline can preserve your neurons and neural networks, as well as your brain size. It can also prevent memory loss. In many cases, brain abnormalities in dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers have been partially linked to a choline deficiency.
A Boston University School of Medicine study also found that improved cognitive function related to those with a higher choline intake and that it prevented brain deterioration in older people.
Choline may not be the most well-known nutrient, but that doesn’t make it any less critical. While you’re making sure you’re getting enough iron, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, consider eating an egg a day and familiarising yourself with choline-rich food at the same time.