Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Need More Choline?

How much choline do we need? I've read most people don't get enough.

Answer (Published 7/3/2007)

Choline is a micronutrient needed for nerve signaling, cholesterol transport, energy metabolism and maintenance of cell membranes. In the body, most choline is contained in phosphatidylcholine, a constituent of lecithin, which occurs in some fatty foods like egg yolks, and is also produced by the liver if the diet provides adequate amounts of choline. As an important component of cell membranes, lecithin is needed by every cell of the body. Without lecithin, liver metabolism is deranged, leading to "fatty liver" and eventually chronic liver failure. Choline also is a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter vital to nerve and muscle function.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Supplements & Herbs - If you are interested in supplementing your diet, and want to take the mystery out of choosing vitamins, try Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor. Visit today for your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation.

There is no RDA for choline. Instead, an "adequate intake" of 550 milligrams per day for men and 425 for women was set in 1998. However, recent research suggests that some people need more. A small study published in the May 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men and postmenopausal women may develop fatty liver even with "adequate" choline intake. The study included 26 men, 16 premenopausal women and 15 postmenopausal women, all of them healthy. For 10 days, the participants followed a diet that gave them the adequate intake of 550 milligrams of choline. For the next 42 days, their choline intake was cut to less than 50 mg daily. Some participants were randomly assigned to take a daily supplement of 400 mcg of folic acid.

By the study's end, 77 percent of the men, 80 percent of the postmenopausal women and 44 percent of the premenopausal women had developed fatty liver or muscle dysfunction. Some needed as much as 825 mg of choline daily to prevent or reverse their liver problems. The folic acid didn't protect against the effects of choline deficiency as previous evidence had suggested. What's more, even at the outset when the men were getting 550 mg of choline, 23 percent developed signs of liver trouble.

The investigators concluded that men and postmenopausal women need more choline than today's "adequate intake." And while earlier research indicated that most Americans get plenty of this nutrient, a recent study from Iowa State found that only 10 percent or less of older children, men, women and pregnant women actually get enough.

Food sources of choline include egg yolks, beef liver, wheat germ, beef, soy foods, Brussels sprouts, cod, salmon, broccoli, peanut butter and milk chocolate. Some multivitamins (including the Weil brand) also provide choline.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here