Choline is a water-soluble essential nutrient that is grouped with B vitamins. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a vital role in memory. As an essential nutrient, choline must be absorbed through diet or supplementation in order for the body to remain healthy.
What Is Choline?
Choline is a water-soluble nutrient grouped within the B-complex vitamins. It is an essential nutrient meaning all humans need it in order to survive. Choline was discovered in 1864 and was chemically synthesized two years later in 1866. From there it took over 100 years until choline was classified as an essential nutrient by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (US).
In 1975 scientists discovered that choline increased synthesis and release of acetylcholine by neurons. Those discoveries sparked an increase interest in the substance and since then research into its potential benefits has been ongoing. Even though choline is found in a wide variety of foods it is commonly taken as a dietary supplement because of its wide variety of benefits.
As an essential nutrient, Choline is not used as medicine directly. Choline deficiency can cause a number of medical problems, however. These include an increased risk of liver disease, atherosclerosis, neurological disorders, breast cancer, and neural tube defects in infants.
Choline is most often taken as a supplement by those who don’t get enough in their diets, and is also popular among those taking Piracetam or other ‘racetams as these drugs cause the brain to use acetylcholine at a faster rate causing headaches in people whose diets aren’t already rich in choline. Taking choline as a supplement cures these headaches.
Ways to Take Choline
There are a number of different ways to take choline, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. If you’d rather not take supplements its always possible to get enough choline through your diet. If this is the way you’d like to go you can find a list of foods high in choline here.
Alpha GPC is a natural form of choline found most commonly in milk. Alpha GPC may be one of the most bio-available forms of choline, easily crossing the blood-brain barrier. While it is one of the most expensive forms of choline, it is also one of the most effective.
Lecithin is an excellent source of choline and is very popular as a supplement. Much of the choline found from dietary sources is in this form.
Inositol and Choline is the same thing as lecithin. Inositol is the carbohydrate which combines with choline to form lecithin.
Choline Bitartrate is a common, yet less effective choline form. It has a much harder time crossing the blood-brain barrier as other types, so larger doses will be necessary to experience cognitive enhancing effects. Unfortunately some people have reported diarrhea from taking it at large doses. Overall it is not the best way to take choline.
Choline can be taken by regulating your diet or through a supplement. The recommended dosage for a man is 550mg daily and 425mg daily for women. Generally, people take 500mg daily plus the amount they get in their diet to boost functions such as memory and learning associated with choline. It is important to note that these doses assume the choline source is one which can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Higher doses of choline forms such as Choline Bitartrate would be necessary to produce the same effects.
It is recommended that adults do not take more then 3,500mg (3.5grams) of choline per day. Taking more then this can lead to side effects that include low blood pressure, diarrhea, and a fishy ordor.
How Does Choline Work?
Choline is essential for the production of the neurotransmitter acetycholine. Acetycholine the only neurotransmitter used in the motor division of the somatic nervous system. It activates muscles in the peripheral nervous system and plays a very important role in our ability to sustain attention in the central nervous system. It also has a variety of effects as a neuromodulator upon plasticity meaning it affects our short-term memory and our ability to learn. Finally, choline is utilized to produce components in our body’s cell membranes.
Safety and Side Effects of Choline
Choline is a completely natural and completely safe supplement. At lower doses the only reported side effects are a slight increase in body temperature and sweating. Serious side effects are only present when taken in extremely high doses. Low blood pressure, diarrhea, and a fishy odor may occur when taking over 3,500mgs of choline daily.
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Choline. If you have a question that’s not on this list, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer it for you.
Those taking the popular Nootropic Piracetam often take a Choline supplement in addition to the piracetam. This is because piracetam causes choline to be depleted from the brain at a slightly faster rate than usual, causing headaches in some. Taking a choline supplement along with the piracetam will not only remove these headaches, but will also provide increased mental benefits.
It is often advised that choline be taken with ‘racetams such as Piracetam or Aniracetam to alleviate the headaches that can occur. Taking choline with ‘racetams is also a good idea because doing so greatly improves the mental benefits provided by both the ‘racetam and the choline.
In 1959 a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine proved choline’s positive effect on damage caused by alcohol. Alcohol was administered to certain rats in leu of drinking water. Mortality rates for these rats were high and indicated choline deficiency. On a separate group, as little as .08 per cent of choline was added to the rat’s diets abolished the choline deficiency in the rats. The conclusion was that regular use of alcohol contributes greatly to choline deficiency.
There has also been an assortment of studies done regarding the association between pregnancies and choline intake. These studies have concluded that insufficient amounts of choline during pregnancy can lead to:
- An underdeveloped nervous system 
- Higher rates and neural tube defect 
- Possible effect on IQ