Choline deficiency is still a huge issue in the United States, but that might be changing soon.
Choline is an essential nutrient, and an adequate intake of choline can do things like help prevent liver damage and control the body’s storage of fat. Why, then, are 90% of Americans still not getting enough choline in their daily diets?*
A lot of choline-rich foods, such as liver, just aren’t consumed as much today as they were in years past. But rather than debate why choline-rich foods aren’t so popular anymore, a group of industry leaders has formed the Choline Information Council to spread the word about choline and its health effects-and the choline sources that are still available and popular in today’s food ingredients marketplace.
“It keeps the heart beating at the regular rate, and it keeps the muscle going at the right rate,” says Elizabeth Sloan, PhD, of market researcher Sloan Trends. “Another interesting fact is that choline can interfere with blood plaque formation, because it can lower homocysteine.”
The newly launched Choline Information Council is quickly compiling facts like these to promote on its website (linked above), and the benefits of choline appear to cross into just about every health channel, including cognitive health, heart health, liver disease, and sports performance. It’s also important to remember that choline is a required additive for infant formulas.
Although choline-rich foods do still exist in the diet-such as egg yolk, soy, and peanuts-pure choline ingredients with can also provide a convenient avenue for choline intake. “There are different choline salts with different uses, such as choline chloride and choline bitartrate,” says Tom Druke, nutrients marketing manager for Balchem Corp. (New Hampton, NY). “Choline may be difficult to form into tablets, because it’s very hydroscopic and draws in water, so it causes some interactions with tablets. But, when added to foods and beverages, choline is very friendly. It’s also very stable at high temperatures.”
With choline deficiency so high, and plenty of choline-rich ingredient options still out there, there’s wonder as to whether or choline might just be listed as a priority nutrient in the upcoming 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines. We’ll just have to wait and see.
*According to the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), only 10% or fewer individuals were at or above the adequate intake (AI) level for choline.
Nutritional Outlook magazine
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