Choline is a water soluble nutrient that is produced in small amounts in our body. However, due to its various important roles, it appears that this nutrient is also required to be consumed through diet. One of the most important functions of this nutrient is that it facilitates the development of fetal brain. Research shows that pregnant women who did not receive adequate choline through their diet gave birth to children who had less brain development as compared to their counterparts. Having understood these facts, it would not be wrong to label choline as “the brain nutrient”.
In addition to this, the nutrient has also several health benefits. Choline is required for maintenance of healthy cells and also serves as an important component for neurotransmitters. Certain studies have pointed towards the fact that, consuming choline rich foods have also shown to decrease the risk of developing breast cancer in women.
The Recommended Adequate Intake (AI)
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics has recommended that adults should get at least 550mg and 425mg of choline per day for men and women respectively. The recommended adequate intake (AI) for other age groups and physiologic conditions is given below:
• For infants aged 0 – 6 months and 7 – 12 months the adequate intake is 125mg / day and 150mg /day respectively.
• For children of 1 – 3 years of age, the AI is 200mg / day and those aged 4 – 8 years, the AI is 250mg per day.
• Boys aged 9 – 13 years; the adequate intake has been calculated to be 375mg and 550mg for 14 – 18 years.
• For girls aged 9 – 13 years the requirement is same as boys (375mg) and for those in the 14 – 18 years age group the adequate intake is 440mg per day.
• In physiologic conditions of pregnancy and lactation, the adequate requirement is calculated to be 450mg and 550mg respectively.
Food Sources Of Choline
With this being said, it becomes utmost important that the diet we eat should be rich in this nutrient. Almost all food sources contain some amount of choline. However, individuals deficient in this nutrient need to pay extra attention to their dietary habits, more so, if they do not consume eggs. Some of the foods that are the richest sources of choline include eggs, beef liver, soy, chicken and wheat germ. The following table is a list that provides the choline content of some of its richest sources: The content has been taken from the USDA’s database for choline in foods.
Choline Rich Foods
Beef liver (pan fried)
Whole egg (large)
Dried egg yolk
3.5 oz – patty
Individuals who do not consume non vegetarian food products can also get their daily adequate intake of choline through a variety of vegetarian sources. Though, eggs and beef contain high amounts of this nutrient, vegetarians can consume soy, flax seeds, pistachio nuts, vegetables, herbs and spices, which also contain moderate amount of choline that would help, meet the daily requirement. Some other examples of vegetarian sources are broccoli, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and coriander that contain approximately 60 mg of choline.
Research has also proved that even chocolates are a good source of choline. However, excessive consumption of chocolate would also call for calorie consumption, but once in a while you can also consider this source for getting your daily choline intake. A chocolate bar (100gms) contains about 130mg of this nutrient.