Choline

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Choline is important in controlling fat and cholesterol buildup in the body, prevents fat from accumulating in the liver, and facilitates the movement of fats in the cells. It also helps regulate the kidneys, liver, and gallbladder, is important for nerve transmission, and helps to improve memory. Therefore, many people use choline to assist in controlling weight as well as cholesterol levels, keeping cell membranes healthy, and in preventing gallstones.

Choline today is marketed as a lipotrope, a substance that can increase the mobilization of fatty acids, thereby helping people to lose body fat. There has not been any scientific data, however, to prove this claim. The only lipotropic ability noted by choline is its ability to prevent storing of bad fats in the liver due to alcoholism. Choline is common in natural foods and can be found in cabbage, egg yolk, liver, caviar, cauliflower, lentils, and nuts. Since it is relatively simple to obtain choline naturally, it is extremely difficult to become choline deficient. Makers of choline supplements say that a choline deficiency may result in cirrhosis and fatty degeneration of the liver, hardening of the arteries, heart problems, high blood pressure, and hemorrhagic kidneys. However, since choline is readily available, the likelihood of these symptoms occurring as a result of a choline deficiency is more than unlikely.

For all the supporters of choline that disagree, it is important to remember that the body can make choline. Therefore, scientists for years debated whether anyone actually needed to supplement their diet with this nutrient. Despite scientific evidence, in 1998 an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that diets low in choline might lead to serious health problems. They recommended an “adequate intake” standard of 550 milligrams per day for men and 425 mg/day for women. Some scientists believe that choline supplements, if taken at the right time and in the right dosage, may help the nervous system continue to stimulate muscle cells and help athletes moving toward the marathon finish line at their own desired pace.

Choline is safe to take as a supplement regularly. Taking excessive amounts of choline could result in the user have a fishy odor, nausea, depression, and could trigger existing epilepsy. Hypotension, sweating, salivation, flatulence, and diarrhea have also been reported. Without sufficient evidence to prove that choline is needed as a supplement to a healthy diet and that it works as a weight loss aid, there is insufficient proof for anyone to utilize choline when dieting.


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