Choline is a water-soluble nutrient and part of the vitamin B complex.

What are its health benefits?

Choline is produced in our bodies by the liver, is found in a variety of foods, and is also available in supplement form. Choline is needed for crucial functions such as basic cellular development, the transport of nutrients, and for metabolism.

It is said to combat memory problems associated with ageing, promote healthy liver function, reduce fatigue during strenuous exercise, and boost intellectual performance. If taken in combination, choline and inositol (another essential nutrient) promote better overall cognition and brain cell health.

Choline is also vital during pregnancy – it is recommended that pregnant women take it to prevent neural tube defects in their babies. Choline is also used as a supplement in baby formulas.

Do you have a deficiency?

The most common symptoms of choline deficiency are fatigue, insomnia and memory problems.

In severe cases, people may experience:

A deficiency can be treated with diet or by boosting intake with supplements.

Find it in these foods

Significant amounts of choline are found in:

  • Eggs
  • Raw liver
  • Skimmed milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Wheat germ

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

For adult women it’s 425mg daily and for adult men it’s 550mg daily. Discuss correct dosages with your Clicks pharmacist or your doctor, particularly for children.

Know the overdose risks

A choline overdose has been linked to dizziness, vomiting and nausea. High doses can also cause insomnia, a stiff neck, restlessness and headaches. If you ingest too much, your body may give off a fishy odour.

A risky toxicity zone is reached if more than 3.5g is consumed over a 24-hour period. This only applies to the overuse of supplements, however, as it’s difficult to reach 3.5g from dietary sources.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015