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A member of the Vitamin B complex and classified as a lipotropic, or fat emulsifier, choline may be helpful in strengthening the liver and also in assisting the treatment of cholesterol buildup, memory loss, and alzheimer's. How important is Choline? A deficiency of choline may contribute to liver degeneration and hardening of the arteries.

Choline isnít technically a B vitamin, but it is often included in the B-vitamin family because it does work closely with other B vitamins, especially folic acid (Vitamin B9) and cobalamin (Vitamin B12), to process fat and keep the heart and brain healthy. Choline is also needed for gallbladder and liver function, lecithin formation, hormone production, and regulate the central nervous system,.

Choline makes acetylcholine, which is an important neurotransmitter needed for brain and memory function. In fact, scientists are now researching the possibility that choline may be beneficial in treating and even preventing diseases that affect the brain and central nervous system, such as Parkinsonís disease and Alzheimerís (people with Alzheimerís usually have low levels of acetylcholine in their brains). And recent studies show that choline is also extremely important for ensuring healthy brain function in newborns.

Choline keeps the liver healthy by helping to move fats from the liver to cells in the body. Choline makes phosphatidylcholine (PC), which is crucial for making the fatty substance that is used to form cell membranes and phosphatidylcholine may in turn be used by the body as a source of choline (in Germany, doctors sometimes prescribe phosphatidycholine to treat hepatitis or liver damage).

Phosphatidylcholine supplements are available at health-food stores, but of course, anyone suspecting poor liver function should be under a doctorís care, and discuss these supplements with a physician before taking them.

You get choline in your diet from foods that contain lecithin, which the body breaks down into choline. Some foods that contain lecithin are rice, eggs, red meat, liver, cabbage, cauliflower, soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, green beans, split peas, and soy lecithin. Lecithin is also a common food additive; itís used in ice cream, margarine, mayonnaise and chocolate bars to help bind the fat in these foods with water.

There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for choline; most people get anywhere from 300 to 1,000 milligrams each day from their diet, which seems to be enough to prevent a deficiency. Adequate daily intake is 425 milligrams for adult women (450 milligrams if pregnant and 550 milligrams if nursing), and 550 milligrams for adult men. Because choline has been linked to brain development in newborns, all pregnant and nursing women need to be certain to get plenty of choline in their diet by eating plenty of lecithin-rich foods (supplementation for healthy pregnant and nursing women is not recommended).

Choline, part 2

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