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Choline: Little-Known Ingredient For Boosting Brain Health

Getting enough omega 3? Tick. Plenty of antioxidants from fruit and veg? Tick. But what about choline?

Illustration of a human brain

This little-known compound is often referred to as the “brain-building” nutrient. It is neither vitamin nor mineral, but a key chemical needed by the brain and nervous system to regulate memory, mood and muscle control.

According to the British Medical Journal, most Western populations are not getting enough and it’s a problem exacerbated by the trend towards plant-based diets, since the best sources are meat, fish, eggs and dairy.

As choline is water-soluble, the body cannot store it, and although some is made in the liver you need to get most of it from food.

The United States Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the European Food Safety Authority both recognise that choline plays an important role in the human body and have established dietary reference values.

The European Food Safety Authority has set a daily adequate intake of 400mg for adults. For reference, one egg contains 147mg of choline, 100g chicken breast has 117mg and 100g of salmon contains 113mg. Good plant sources include shiitake mushrooms, which contain 80mg per 100g, the same weight of butter beans has 44mg, broccoli 40mg and peas 30mg.

On the other side of the pond in America, the IOM recommends 550mg for men and 425mg for women.

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