Authored By Murigi

Choline is a nutrient that the body has to get from the food we eat. It resembles a B vitamin and like many vitamins, the body cannot manufacture its own in adequate amount to meet its needs. These are called essential nutrients. Choline is vital for many physiological processes to function normally. A few of these include:

  • Maintains the stability of the cell walls
  • It helps in the nerve impulses conduction
  • Helps in cell communication (signaling)
  • It helps in the metabolism of fats and its transport
  • Helps in the metabolism of homocysteine. High levels of these compounds are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Plays a role in the functions of vitamin B12 and folate.

Signs and symptoms of choline deficiency

The deficiency of choline can present with clinical disorders.  The liver is mainly affected and may develop a condition called non-alcoholic liver disease (NALD). When this occurs, specific signs and symptoms associated with abnormal liver function may be present. These include abnormal blood sugar metabolism, poor cholesterol control, heart disease, and many others.

Non-specific signs and symptoms are varied and include:

  • Abnormal and persistent tiredness
  • Declining cognitive abilities
  • Mood disorders
  • Neurological issues
  • Poor memory
  • Muscle weakness

Who is at risk of deficiency?

Choline is available in a wide variety of foods. However, without due care, some groups are at a higher risk of developing deficiency. These include:

  • People on intravenous feeding for prolonged periods
  • Pregnant women. The demand for choline is higher during pregnancy. This is needed for the normal development of the fetus.
  • Breastfeeding mothers
  • Choline is more abundant in animal sourced foods. (see under ‘sources of choline’ for a comprehensive list of plant-based sources of choline)
  • People with a genetically determined increased demand of choline)

Health benefits of choline

Choline can help to support your health and reduce the risk of a number of serious conditions. The major ones include:

  • Heart health. Reduces levels of homocysteine – a substance that has been associated with heart disease when high. Other ways it is thought to support heart health is through reducing high blood pressure, and maintaining healthy lipid levels.
  • Supports brain health. It helps in the development of the nervous system of babies before birth.
  • It may reduces the risk of breast cancer
  • Supports liver functions
  • Supports the immune system. It reduces the frequency and severity of respiratory allergic conditions such as asthma.
  • It may be useful in Alzheimer’s disease
  • It may help in supporting athletic performance
  • It may help in patients with a neurological disorder called cerebellar ataxia
  • Mental disorders
  • Helps with regulation of cholesterol
  • It helps in the management of traumatic brain injury. 

Sources of choline

There are three main sources of choline. These are:

  1. The body can synthesize choline in small amounts. These are however not in adequate amounts to meet the body’s physiological needs. This is the reason it is considered as an essential nutrient because the balance has to be sourced from outside the body.
  2. Food sources. These can be from animal-based foods or from the plant sourced foods. Plant-based sources include:
  • Peanuts and its products
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • artichoke
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Wheat germ
  • Oats
  • Soy
  • Beans
  • Sweet
  • Peas
  • Whole bread
  • Quinoa
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • Apples
  • Cauliflower

With a little planning, no vegan should have choline deficiency because of inadequate intake through the diet.

  1. The third source of choline is dietary supplements. It is usually available in two forms. One is as choline chloride and the other is as choline bitartrate. Supplements of phosphatidylcholine contain choline that forms almost 15% of its weight.

The availability of choline in most supplements is found as part of a collection of ingredients that may include vitamins and minerals. This is the case with Belisan’s Daily Multivitamin Essential. This supplement contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals among other health building ingredients. All these work together for overall wellbeing.

Daily requirements

The amount of choline needed per day varies according to a person’s age and health status.  This is illustrated in the table below. 


Dosage in milligrams (mg)



6 months and below



7 months to 1 year



1-3 years



4-8 years



9-13 years



14-18 years



19 years and above



Pregnant moms



Breastfeeding moms




Many supplements do not contain choline amounts that meet the above recommended daily intake amounts. It must be remembered that, the aim of using a nutritional supplement is not intended to take the place of food. Its place is to fill any nutritional gaps created by an inadequate intake through the food we eat. A qualified nutritionist can always help you to plan wholesome meals and recommend necessary supplements.


See the table above. It is important to stick to the recommended dosage because higher amounts of choline can lead to health issues. For example, while research suggests that this compound supports heart health, other research findings indicate that too much of it increases risk of heart disease.

When choline is part of a composite nutritional supplement, the risk of exceeding the recommended dose is minimal. For example, in Belisan’s Multivitamin Essential, choline is only 50mg per serving.

Precautions and contraindications

Choline is considered a safe product when used as recommended. However, users can react differently to a product that has not had any side effect to the majority of users. When taken in high amounts some of the side effects will include:

  • Fishy smell body odor
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Digestive issues
  • Prolonged use of high diseases may increase the risk of colon and rectum cancers.

When used within recommended doses, it is safe for use by children, pregnant, and nursing, mothers.


Choline may interfere with certain drugs. If you are on any long-term medications, talk to your doctor before using product containing this supplement.

While choline has many health benefits, true health cannot be achieved by the consumption of just one product. Optimal health is the result of many things working together. There has to be vitamins, minerals, herbs, good nutrition, exercises and many other factors must come into play. To learn more about a nutritional product that can support your health in many ways, click here now. 


Sanders, L. M., & Zeisel, S. H. (2007). Choline: Dietary Requirements and Role in Brain Development. Nutrition Today, 42(4), 181–186.

Zeisel, S. H. (2006). Choline: Critical Role During Fetal Development and Dietary Requirements in Adults. Annual Review of Nutrition, 26, 229–250.

Buchman AL, Dubin MD, Moukarzel AA, Jenden DJ, Roch M, Rice KM, Gornbein J, Ament ME. Choline deficiency: a cause of hepatic steatosis during parenteral nutrition that can be reversed with intravenous choline supplementation. Hepatology. 1995 Nov;22(5):1399-403.

Caudill MA. Pre- and postnatal health: evidence of increased choline needs. J Am Diet Assoc 2010;110:1198-206. [PubMed abstract]


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