Our bodies require a lot of nutrients and vitamins to remain healthy. We need Vitamin D, Vitamin C, fiber, and so much more. Another nutrient you shouldn’t forget is choline. Choline is considered an essential nutrient and, although our body produces some in our liver, we must get the rest of it through our diets. Choline is interesting because it is not a vitamin or a mineral but is nonetheless essential for our bodies. Choline helps maintain nervous system health, supports a healthy metabolism, synthesizes DNA, and helps produce cell messengers.
Although choline deficiency is rare, insufficient choline levels can greatly impact your liver health, inflict muscle damage, and cause complications during pregnancy. Choline is also especially important for reducing the risk of heart disease. There are many associated benefits of choline in the body and as a result, choline supplements have become increasingly popular. So, what are the best choline supplements? Let’s find out!
What Are the Different Types Of Choline Supplements?
Choline chloride, Alpha-GPC, betaine, and CDP-choline (citicoline) are the common supplemental forms of choline. CDP-choline and Alpha-GPC are very common and may be more effective in the body as they are more readily absorbed. Our bodies seem to respond the same way to these two choline supplements as they do to dietary sources of choline.
CDP-choline (citicoline) contains a lot of choline and helps transport dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for feel-good emotions. Citicoline in particular may help improve memory loss deficits and may enhance focus and concentration.
Alpha-GPC, on the other hand, increases the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is responsible for muscle memory, which basically enables our muscles to move properly. It may also release some dopamine in our brains as well. Alpha-GPC is known to boost our cognition, increase our strength, and help with muscle recovery, especially after workouts. It seems like Alpha-GPC may have a very slight upper hand in the body and may increase choline levels and associated benefits a little more. However, more research needs to be conducted.
There are also food additives that contain choline, a very popular one being soy lecithin. You can also purchase lecithin as a supplement and it has been proven to be effective in the body.
Choline Supplement Benefits
Choline is an incredibly crucial nutrient our body needs. It is a component of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter needed for essential brain function. Choline is also a key component of cellular growth and our body’s metabolism. The following are some functions and benefits of choline in the body:
- Healthy metabolism
- Cellular growth
- DNA synthesis
- Production of cell messengers
- Maintains and promotes nervous system health
- Produces acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Supports liver health
- Supports a healthy pregnancy
- Reduces the risk of birth defects among babies, including neural tube defects
- Supports muscle growth
- Promotes memory function
- Plays a role in our mood
Many individuals take a choline supplement in order to reduce the likelihood of insufficient choline levels and also to boost some of these benefits. Some noted benefits of supplemental choline include enhanced memory and cognition, heart health protection, metabolic boost, and a reduction in complications during pregnancy.
Should I Take Choline Supplements?
Although we require choline from dietary sources, some at-risk populations may require choline supplements. The following populations are at an increased risk of developing a choline deficiency (although rare):
- Postmenopausal women
- Pregnant women
- Athletes undergoing endurance training (marathon runners)
- Individuals who consume a lot of alcohol
Choline requirements differ based on age, gender, and pregnancy, but if you do require choline in supplemental form, consult a doctor first. Additionally, it’s important to note that too much choline can cause hypotension, sweating, vomiting, and liver toxicity.
Do Choline Supplements Work?
Although our choline requirements vary based on different factors, we do not require a lot in general. Even so, many individuals do not get sufficient choline and require supplementation, especially at-risk populations like pregnant women.
Choline has been deemed pretty safe to take in a supplemental form by many researchers and has been proven beneficial. One of the greatest benefits of taking choline is for pregnant women as it greatly reduces the likelihood that the baby will develop neural tube defects. However, some research has shown that it is unsafe in large quantities as choline toxicity can cause vomiting and a fishy odor.
Choline acts in similar ways to B vitamins in our bodies. Although choline is important, it doesn’t mean we should all be taking it in large doses. Consulting your doctor beforehand is crucial, especially based on toxicity risk and insufficient research.
The Best Choline Supplements
NOW Supplements Alpha-GPC
This supplement comes highly rated and contains 300 mg of Alpha-GPC, the most bioavailable form of choline. The Alpha-GPC is derived from soy lecithin.
Jarrow Formulas Citicoline CDP Choline
This product contains 250 mg of CDP choline, the more bioavailable form of choline. It comes very highly rated, however at a higher price than other choline supplement options.
Nested Naturals Choline Bitartrate
This product contains 500 mg of choline bitartrate. This supplement is highly rated and is a great vegan option. The only downside is that this form might not be as bioavailable as others.
Choline Supplement Alternatives
Choline is present in many dietary sources that can provide you with sufficient levels of this nutrient. The following are great dietary sources of choline:
- Beef liver
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains (quinoa, rice)
- Most beef
- Most fish
Incorporating these sources of choline into your diet will help maintain sufficient choline levels in your body while also contributing other essential vitamins and minerals as well, which is an added benefit of dietary sources as opposed to supplemental sources.
Choline And Your Health
Choline is an essential nutrient that your body and nervous system rely on. Although choline deficiencies are rare, many individuals do not get sufficient amounts through dietary sources. There are also more at-risk groups, like pregnant women, who require higher levels and thus may need to take supplemental choline.
There are many choline supplements available on the market, but those that contain Alpha-GPC or citicoline are better as they are more bioavailable within the body. Making sure you get enough choline will help protect your brain, nervous system, heart, and muscles. Always consult with your doctor first before taking choline supplements.