Choline :Role, Benefits and Sources.

Written by Marsha

In the Nootropic supplement family, choline is an essential one when it comes to intelligence, synaptic plasticity and brain health. Within the brain it’s used both as a component of maintenance of the cell membranes health and as a precursor for acetyl choline memory’s chief neurotransmitter. Choline can be obtained directly from some of the foods we consume but research projects that about 90% do not get it in required quantities per day. Deficiency of choline leads to low moods, impairing memory, focus becomes harder than usual and cause even reasoning functions. Some of the excellent sources of this nutrient include Citoline and Alpha GPC.

The nutrient mainly boosts concentration abilities, logical thinking and memory. It also comes in handy in the later stages of life where it reduces the levels of acetylcholine, keep in check cognitive decline, Alzheimer and senile dementia.


What exactly is Choline­?

Choline nutrient is soluble in water and is related to the B complex of vitamins. Although the body manufactures this content, external sources are necessary to meet the optimum choline levels. This can be from the diet or supplements. Choline is also used by the liver to inhibit fat build up.

The nutrient is used to maintain and develop healthy cells of the brain more so by increasing the capacity of signals, structure, fluidity and integrity of the neural membranes.

Based on the information provided by database of the Natural Medicines, choline can be used in the treatment of liver diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, depression and dementia. In its body building role it delays fatigue, helps in the prevention of neural tube defects, as a supplement to infant formulas, prevents cancer, cerebella ataxia, asthma and even partial seizures.

The nutrient is in need especially in the developing foetus during that period when over 50,000 neurons are being formed per second. Offspring’s with higher IQs was noted when expecting women were given higher amounts of choline.


Role of acetylcholine.

It promotes cholinergic activities in the body through its synthesis. The brain contains an estimated to be roughly eighty six billion neurons, all which predominantly communicate via the transmission of chemical signalers known as neurotransmitters.

For verbal reasoning, focus, planning, retention, recall and memory formation, one of the most involved neurotransmitters is acetylcholine.

It’s created within the brain during combination of acetate molecules and choline molecules. Insufficient choline in the system leads to acetylcholine deficiency. When choline levels are high, cognition speed is increased and thoughts become clear. Low choline levels are associated with difficulties in recalling stored information, diminish in the mental energy, brain fog, inattention and difficulty in remembering new information. .

Plasticity of the brain measures the ease with which neurons can bring forth new connections. When a synapse is created, a new connection, memories are stored a long term process known as potentiation. With old age, few connections are formed, a condition predicted by the low activity of acetyl choline. Clearly depicted by elderly individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s condition. This knowledge provides the foundation of Alzheimer’s medication as they work on the cholinergic system struggling to boost acetylcholine stimulation receptors on neurons. Statistics indicate in a population of over 65 years of age, 10% are diagnosed with Alzheimer but living past 85years of age, a 50% chance of developing the condition is noted. Limited success has been recorded in trying to reverse the damage caused by the condition. Prevention is rather possible by ensuring enough choline in the body to produce the neurotransmitters.


Benefits of choline.

The benefits of this supplement include improved intellect and brain health. Research has it that enough choline in the system enhances memory and keeps mental facilities accurate later in old age.

Users have reported numerous off label benefits based on the use of choline supplement. Certain forms of the compound labeled, smart drugs or brain boosters scientifically referred to as Nootropics. Some of the positive effects reported by users online include;

Reduction of fatigue, increased mental energy, improved brain communication, better memory retention, enhanced recall plasticity and improved learning. Raised focus and concentration, reduction of ADD and ADHD, prevention of headaches and insomnia, mood booster, improved thought processing and reaction, improves concentration and focus, verbal and logical processing.


Choline Research

Inconclusive research has been conducted on the choline supplement as some studies show positive effects for memory, athletic and mental performance, while others do not. More definitive research has been conducted on the 2 natural phospholipid choline forms that is Citoline also CDP choline and Alpha GPC. They show an increased capacity for crossing the blood brain barrier and better bioavailability explaining the increase in efficacy. A research examining rats administered with choline nutrient was discovered to positively impact on acetylcholine synthesis in striatum and hippocampus of the brain, area closely associated with consciousness and memory.

Artificial depletion of choline in cholinergic neurons, an exogenous source of the nutrient increases the ability of these neurons to counteract the depletion and synthesize acetylcholine. The research involved the use of choline molecule that was lipid bound in the brain as opposed to increasing the rather free choline levels.

In yet another different study, prolonged choline administration to rats yielded an increase in the receptor numbers binding sites for the brains acetylcholine sites. After a month of a choline chloride supplemented diet, the rats in their brains, showed a great density in the binding of acetylcholine neuron sites. This implies that choline supplement increase receptor numbers for acetylcholine neurotransmitter.

Another study focused on the effect of concurrently using choline and other 2 approved brain supplements decosahexaenoic acid and uridine. This particular combination boosted synaptic levels and dendritic spines in the rat’s brain. Based on the experiment it’s safe to conclude that the three are capable of promoting neuroplasticity and enhancing the growth of new neural structures. Some other trials carried out on rats have indicated an improvement in spatial memory.

A larger percentage of such studies have a focus on what effects choline has both as pre- and postnatal supplement. In the year 1988, one of the studies conducted indicated that the rats used in the experiment that were given this supplements displayed an improvement in accuracy and performance of both reference and working memory tasks. This was then attributed to the enhancement of spatial memory in the long run. More research is however needed in order to be sure as to what effects choline supplements would have when it comes to enhancing cognitive functions and memory in human beings. A number of human studies have indicated the expected results while others did not. Alpha GPC and CDP Choline ware used in the studies which displayed positive effects as they portrayed improved capacity or ability to be absorbed by the cells in the brain when taken in orally.


Choline and Athletic Performance.

A number or research studies have been conducted to determine the effect choline has on stamina, athletic performance and body building. With adequate and appropriate exercise, Alpha GPC have indicated an increase in the levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) by boosting performance. Prolonged exercises have indicated a significant drop in the levels of plasma Choline. The administration of choline through Lecithin supplements do not bring about any noticeable changes to performance. Conducting the same study with triathletes have also reported similar results.

It is not yet verified but a number of independent studies have indicated that choline may have some impact on both weight and body fat loss. It limits one from gaining weight and reduces the build-up of fats in the liver to some extent. Large scale trials in the clinics are required to better understand the possible effects choline has on weight loss as the current existing results are only preliminary.


Foods with Choline.

It is not always easy to maintain a constant supply or intake of choline supplements on a daily basis. What can be done to ensure this is addressed accordingly? Men are advised to take an average of 550mg while women are advised to take 425mg of this product on a daily basis unless you are taking it for purposes of brainpower enhancement. This is as a result of the fact that not all choline taken in though food would be fully absorbed into the blood by the body and finding its way to the human brain.

An analysis of the amounts of Choline contained in the typical foods making up the diet of many citizen in the USA was conducted by the USDA in the year 2004. Some foods such as whole eggs, ground beef, beef liver, navy beans and cauliflowers are rich in Choline than others. Therefore, if you were to use such foods as your primary source of Choline, you would have to exceed the recommended amount in terms of diet. This would mean an increase in the amount of calorie and cholesterol.


CHOLINE FOODS                                                    CHOLINE MG                        CALORIES
Raw beef liver 5 ounces (142g) 473 192
Large egg 113 78
Half a pound (227 g) Cod fish 190 238
Half a pound of chicken 150 543
Quart of milk, 1% fat 173 410
30 gram Brewer’s yeast (2 tbsps.) 120 116
100 grams of Soybeans dry 116 268
A pound (454 grams) of cauliflower 177 104
A pound of spinach 113 154
A cup of wheat germ 202 432
Two cups (0.47 liters) firm tofu 142 353
Two cups of cooked kidney beans 108 450
A cup of uncooked quinoa 119 626
A cup of uncooked amaranth 135 716
A grapefruit 19


Three cups (710 cc) cooked brown rice 54 649
A cup (146 g) of peanuts 77 828
A cup (143 g) of almonds 74 822



sources of Choline


Sources of Choline.

Many people have resolved to using choline supplements as a necessity to satisfy their daily tasks and cognitive enhancement. It is however clear that not all choline supplements are equally effective when it comes to the effects displayed on brain power. The different choline supplements sold exist in different formats portraying different levels of potency as well as varying intellectual functional benefits. The low end sources of choline which happen to be cheap may give you as the user higher dosages which are actually not effective as expected. This is because the choline will not be synthesized to acetylcholine at the end of it all. Sources that are of higher quality on the other hand can be described as having greater acetylcholine conversion capabilities.

Many of these substances are bioavailable but not all can be fully and completely absorbed by your body into the bloodstream. The blood brain barrier is a physiological boundary or border that is used in separating blood circulating from the brain tissues and the central nervous system. The ability possessed by a certain choline supplement to cross this barrier can be used as a distinguishing factor.

It is imperative that a supplement should have greater transportation abilities across this barrier in order for it to be more effective and increase brain functioning accordingly. This barrier which is a part of our body’s immune system can only allow a small class of such supplements to cross over. Acetylcholine for example cannot cross the blood brain barrier on its own unless it is synthesized in the human brain. This is one of the reasons why it is advisable to avoid taking supplements that directly possess this compound, instead you can resolve to the use of an acetylcholine precursor. Some choline supplements are able to easily cross through the blood brain barrier, they may turn out to be less effective and thus not entirely efficient for the purpose of cognitive enhancement. The question that arises therefore is with regards to the best source of Choline to use.


Choline Bitartrate.

This is classified among the most common forms of selling this nutrient. It is however the least effective. The Bitartrate contained by most of the Choline pills or powder sold in the present day market is salt. Despite being very affordable, it has a poor transition capacity between or across the blood barrier of the brain. This is because there exists the need of converting Choline into a lipid in the liver before it can actually be able to cross the blood brain barrier. Both Choline Citrate and Choline Chloride are not ideal for the conversion of acetylcholine because they are weak at it.



This is a much better option that has higher conversion for acetylcholine as it is already attached to lipid molecules upon absorption by the body. Certain foods such as fish, soya beans and meat are natural sources of Phosphatidylcholine. Vegetarians that typically have to take dietary add-ons can acquire this nutrient from Soy Lecithin supplements. This supplement comprises of choline ranging between 2.5% and 9.5%. Phosphatidylcholine on the other hand is more concentrated with a percentage of 13% concentration. This product is however not sufficient in providing tremendous amounts of cognitive enhancements despite being much more effective in comparison to Choline Bitartrate.


Citicoline (CDP Choline)

Using CDP Choline would be the best option compared to the other two options available because of its higher potency levels. It is excellent in penetrating through blood thanks to the lipid structure possessed by this supplement. It also consists of the nutrients and materials that are deemed necessary in controlling and maintaining the cell walls as well as surrounding structures in the brain. Many nations of the world are currently using Citicoline as an ADHD/ADD and Alzheimer’s treatment. CDP Choline therefore does not only impact on memory positively but also stimulates the levels of energy and density of dopamine receptors to improve on moods and focus.

Choline assists in improving the circulation of oxygen in the brain and glucose metabolism as it increases blood flow in the human brain. This is therefore one of the most popular choline supplements that are currently sold in the market that a user is likely to experience a substantial boost of his or her brain activities and can either be used alone or with a Nootropic stack.


Alpha GPC Choline.

Despite being satisfied with CDP Choline, there exists an alternative option that is far much better with greater conversion of Acetylcholine with Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine or otherwise known as Alpha GPC being the highest and best quality source of the said nutrient. This version is cost effective as it’s more than two times stronger compared to the CDP Choline. This is so as you can get the same effects and feeling from a smaller dosage.

GPC Choline is a natural compound which can be found in the human breast milk at high levels. It has greater impacts on reasoning, memory, intellect and cognition. It can be taken by itself forming the core of many brain supplements that are most common in the market today such as the Alpha Brain. Alpha GPC takes a shorter time frame to act than Citicoline giving out near same effects as it’s metabolized within a shorter time.


Side Effects of Choline.

Choline is believed to be a safe and secure nutrient supplement as it has extremely low risk factors and effects. The Food and Drug administration Agency in the United States of America has classified this product under the Generally Regarded as Safe, GRAS status. This therefore is an indication that Choline is entirely safe for use under normal conditions. Natural medications have also ranked Choline as being likely safe as long as it is used in line with the appropriate guidelines prescribed.

Excessively higher dosages amounting to more than 3.5g a day is as well deemed to be possibly unsafe. Negative side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, excessive perspiration and high blood pressure can be witnessed in certain cases when one exceeds the Choline dosage that is recommended. The risk of experiencing side effects increases with an increase in the dosage taken. It is also safe for children as long as they are correctly dosed. The appropriate dosage for a child ranging between the ages of 1 and 8 is less than 1 gram of the product a day. Children between the age group of 9 and 13 are recommended and advised to take not more than 2 grams a day. 3 grams is the appropriate dosage for ranging between the ages of 14 and 18 years. Expectant women are also not discouraged from taking Choline. They are however advised not to exceed a maximum dose of 3.5 grams a day. This is also the same for women aged 19 years, they are not likely to encounter any adverse side effects. This is in accordance with the Natural Medicine Database.

Other side effects experienced and recorded by some of the users include steatorrhea and diarrhea, vomiting, low blood pressure, constipation, excessive salivation, dizziness, loss of appetite, insomnia, headaches, increased sweating as well as recumbent feelings of anger and agitation. Patients who are examined and diagnosed with Parkinson’s

About the author


a blogger and researcher on healthy lifestyles, fitness and beauty for young women and early moms. Specifically on mental, oral and physical fitness and health.

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