Choline, an essential nutrient produced in small amounts in the liver and found in foods including eggs, broccoli, beans, meat and poultry, is a vital ingredient for human health.
In a study from Arizona State University, scientists explored how a deficiency of dietary choline harms the body and may be a missing piece in the puzzle of Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s estimated that more than 90% of Americans are not meeting the recommended daily intake of choline.
The current research found that dietary choline deficiency could have profound negative effects on the heart, liver and other organs.
Lack of adequate choline was also linked with profound changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
These include pathologies implicated in the development of two classic hallmarks of the illness: amyloid plaques, which aggregate in the intercellular spaces between neurons; and tau tangles, which condense within the bodies of neurons.
In the study, the team examined pathologies in normal mice deprived of dietary choline and in choline-deficient transgenic mice, the latter of which already exhibit symptoms associated with the disease.
In both cases, dietary choline deficiency results in liver damage, enlargement of the heart and neurologic alterations in the AD mice, typically accompanying Alzheimer’s disease and including increased levels of plaque-forming amyloid-beta protein and disease-linked alterations in tau protein.
Further, the team showed that choline deficiency in mice causes strong weight gain, alterations in blood sugar metabolism (which are tied to conditions such as diabetes), and deficits in motor skills.
The team says in the case of humans, it can be a twofold problem.
First, people don’t reach the adequate daily intake of choline established by the Institute of Medicine in 1998.
And secondly, there is vast literature showing that the recommended daily intake amounts are not optimal for brain-related functions.
The research highlights a constellation of physical and neurological changes linked to choline deficiency.
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The study was conducted by Ramon Velazquez et al and published in Aging Cell.
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