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 examined how a deficiency of dietary choline adversely affects the body and maybe a missing piece in the puzzle of Alzheimer’s disease.
They suggest that dietary choline deficiency can have profound negative effects on the heart, liver and other organs.
Lack of adequate choline is also linked with profound changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
These include pathologies 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 normal mice deprived of choline in diet and in choline-deficient transgenic mice, the latter of which already exhibit symptoms associated with the disease.
The team found in both cases, choline deficiency results in liver damage, enlargement of the heart and neurologic alterations in the AD mice, typically accompanying Alzheimer’s disease.
Further, the study shows that choline deficiency in mice causes strong weight gain, alterations in blood sugar (which are tied to conditions such as diabetes), and deficits in motor skills.
The team says in the case of humans, it’s a twofold problem.
First, people don’t reach the adequate daily intake of choline established by the Institute of Medicine in 1998.
And secondly, many studies show that the recommended daily intake amounts are not optimal for brain-related functions.
The research highlights the physical and neurological changes linked to choline deficiency.
The growing awareness of choline’s importance should encourage all adults to ensure proper choline intake.
This is particularly true for those on plant-based diets, which may be low in naturally occurring choline, given that many foods high in choline are eggs, meats, and poultry.
Plant-based, choline-rich foods, including soybeans, Brussels sprouts and certain nuts can help boost choline in these cases.
Moreover, inexpensive, over-the-counter choline supplements are encouraged to promote overall health and guard the brain against the effects of neurodegeneration.
If you care about health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about plant nutrient that could help reduce high blood pressure, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.
The study was conducted by Ramon Velazquez et al and published in Aging Cell.
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