For purely practical reasons, choline (KOH-leen) is considered a B-complex vitamin. It is water-soluble and performs functions similar to other B vitamins. However, it can't meet the classic definition of a vitamin because the body can produce choline (although in limited quantities). The rest of what we need comes in our diet.
So, what is choline?
Choline is an amine (technically a quaternary saturated amine) which is a basic organic compound. The important thing to remember is that choline is an important nutrient required by the body.
Basically, choline does three things for us: it helps cells make durable membranes, it produces a chemical which helps nerve cells communicate with each other (a neurotransmitter), and it helps metabolize fat from the liver.
Choline has been known for a long while (it was discovered in 1864, when Abraham Lincoln was still president!) and it was chemically synthesized years ago. Choline must be taken in every day, because low levels could affect the heart, circulatory system, or liver.
- Choline plays an important role in cell growth and function.
- Choline is one of the B-complex vitamins and is critical for the optimal functioning of cells.
- Choline helps support the neurotransmitters necessary for muscle control.
- Choline supports nervous system health.
- Choline supports liver health.
- Choline supports normal fat metabolism.
- Choline supports heart health.
- Choline is incorporated into fat-containing cell membranes and helps support normal fat metabolism.
- Choline is necessary for the formation of acetylcholine a neurotransmitter which carries information from our nerves to muscles.
- Choline is active in breaking down homocysteine (an amino acid) and removing it from the body. Too much homocysteine, if allowed to build up, may affect heart health.
- The Food and Drug Administration now requires infant formula not derived from cow's milk to be supplemented with choline.
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