What is choline?
Choline, a water-soluble nutrient, is the new kid on the block, earning a spot on the National Academy of Science’s list of required nutrients as recently as 1998. Choline is like a cousin to the B vitamins, including folic acid and riboflavin, because it helps build cell membranes and transports nutrients in and out of cells. “Choline is a methyl donor, meaning it’s required to be involved in various physiological processes including metabolism, lipid transport, methylation, and neurotransmitter synthesis,” says Kristin Hantzos, MPH, clinical nutrition director at Canyon Ranch in Lenox.
What does choline do for us?
Even though choline wasn’t recognized for a long time, it plays a significant supporting role in your body. It assists in brain development, muscle growth, and movement, nervous system function, and proper metabolism of dietary fat and cholesterol. Choline supports liver function by enabling liver pathways and our body’s detoxification system. “The body needs a supply of large, soluble molecules that can be attached to toxins, creating a soluble substance which can then be effectively excreted through the urine, bile, or stool,” says Hantzos. Look out for these signs you’re running low on key nutrients.