It has been decades since the population was inoculated with the idea that foods high in cholesterol should be avoided, in order to prevent heart disease. However, the clinical and historical evidence and the studies on this matter provide solid evidence: there is no good reason to avoid high cholesterol foods. One of the reasons for which it’s not recommended to avoid foods high in cholesterol is given by the choline content in them.
Choline has been officially recognized as an essential nutrient since 1998, although a fairly low number of the modern population enjoys an adequate level in the body. The richest dietary sources of choline are found in egg yolks, liver and meat, which are exactly the foods many people avoid today because of the unexplained fear of fat and cholesterol. As far as nutrition is concerned, there is not only a high amount of choline in these foods, but these are also very rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, arachidonic acid, DHA and vitamins B. Liver that comes from healthy, grass fed animals is a superfood! It is an excellent source of choline and trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium, plus folate and bioavailable iron.
Why Is Choline Such an Important Nutrient in the Human Diet?
Choline has a variety of functions in the body, and is an essential component of numerous phospholipids, which make up cell membranes. Without sufficient choline in the body, our cells cannot properly maintain their structure and cannot transmit signals to other parts of the body. In addition, choline regulates several metabolic pathways, helps detoxify the body, contributes to an optimal level of energy, your mood, sleep cycles and recovery time after intense activity.
During pregnancy, low choline intake is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects in newborns. Some studies show that when a fetus gets more choline, it has a better chance of having a healthy brain function later and a lower risk of brain abnormalities.
Choline is required to create the DNA that is responsible for building the entire body structure. It also helps in the formation of tissue in the nervous system, contributes to the signaling capacity of the nerves, maintains their structural integrity and protects vital neuronal membranes. It acts as a precursor to certain important neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, which is used in nerve and muscle functions. Because it is a component of the cell membranes and neurotransmitters used in nerve signaling, choline also plays a role in maintaining memory and preventing dementia, as well as other symptoms of cognitive decline.
Choline maintains healthy liver function. It is necessary to properly transport fat from the liver to cells throughout the body and helps prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver. Choline plays an important role in transporting cholesterol and triglycerides, from the liver to other parts of the body where they are needed.
Folate and choline help in the conversion of homocysteine, which prevents the body from accumulating too much fat and helps reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Neuronal plasticity refers to the ability of the brain to build new neuronal connections, and choline is considered to be very important for sustaining the elasticity and plasticity of the brain. Children need to have an adequate level of choline to form channels of neurotransmitters in their brain, which will help maintain information, verbal skills, creative thinking, mathematical skills, social cues and more.
Symptoms of Choline Deficiency.
Choline deficiency over time can have serious implications on our health. Symptoms of choline deficiency include fatigue, insomnia, poor kidney function, memory problems and nervous imbalances.
Extreme dietary choline deficiency can lead to liver dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, abnormal growth in children, abnormalities in bone formation, lack of red blood cell formation, infertility, kidney failure, anemia and high blood pressure.
Another important factor to consider is the fact that some people have a common genetic variation, which causes a higher need for choline to be consumed. These people are more susceptible to choline deficiency and must ensure that they have an adequate amount in the diet.
People with a liver condition called “fatty liver” have a higher risk of choline deficiency and to have negative symptoms. This usually occurs in people who have excessive alcohol consumption, are overweight, suffer from diabetes or some form of insulin resistance, or have other diseases that influence fat metabolism.
Eating according to the metabolic type and including food of animal origin is the best way to ensure that you get enough choline, along with a functional clinical evaluation to determine possible deficiencies.
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