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Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient that is naturally present in some foods. It is neither a vitamin nor mineral but is often grouped with b-vitamins as it has similar functions. Choline (like folate) is a methyl donor, which means it provides a methyl group to many important reactions in the body.

Choline is also needed to produce compounds that are important for

  • memory
  • mood
  • muscle control
  • other brain and nervous system functions including early brain development

Choline can be produced in the body by the liver but the amount that the body makes naturally is not sufficient to meet our needs. Therefore it is important to include foods containing choline in the diet.

How much Choline do we need?

 Age (years)Adequate Intake (mg/day)
Infants0-6 months125
7-12 months150
Children1-3200
4-8250
9-13375
Girls14-18400
Boys14-18550
Women19-70+425
Men19-70+550
Pregnancy14-18415
19-50440
Breastfeeding14-18525
19-50550

Source: Nutrient Reference Value: Choline

There is not enough data to set an RDI (recommended daily intake) for Choline, so an Adequate Intake (AI) has been set instead. AI is based on what experts find to be the average nutrient intake in a group of healthy people, however, requirements might differ from person to person. More research is required in this area.

Which foods contain choline?

The most common sources of choline in foods are animal-based products

  • Beef liver, chicken liver
  • Eggs
  • meat, poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy

Plant-based sources of choline include

  • Green vegetables and certain beans
  • Nuts, seeds, and whole grains

More info

References

Last reviewed 12 /07/2022

Last modified: July 18, 2022