NMU 140 – Choline and Dementia
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 140 (August 20, 2019)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Higher Daily Choline Intake Linked to 28% Decrease in Dementia Risk
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (July 2019)
It may interest you to know that the brain makes the memory chemical “acetylcholine” from choline and phosphatidylcholine found in various foods. Lower brain levels of choline are known to result in lower brain acetylcholine levels and a decline in memory function. A study published in the 2019 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was the first to observe that adequate dietary intake of phosphatidylcholine from day to day is associated with a reduced risk of dementia as we age. And, higher intake of phosphatidylcholine was also linked to enhanced cognitive performance.
In this study, researchers analyzed approximately 2,500 Finnish men aged 42 – 60 years of age for their dietary and lifestyle habits, and health in general. These data were combined with their hospital records, cause of death records and medication reimbursement records after an average follow-up period of 22 years.
In addition, four years after the study onset, approximately 500 men completed tests measuring their memory and cognitive processing. During the follow-up, 337 men developed dementia. The study showed that the risk of dementia was 28% lower in men who had the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine when compared to men with the lowest intake. Men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine also excelled in tests measuring their memory and linguistic abilities. In this study, men with the highest intake ingested 325 – 430 mg of choline per day on average.
Choline intake was the key finding linked to memory preservation and higher cognitive function, as the study extensively accounted for other established lifestyle and nutrition-related factors that affect the risk of dementia. Even a genetic test for the APOE4 gene, which predisposes to individuals to Alzheimer’s disease was accounted for, and it showed no significant impact on the findings. The researchers conclude, “Higher phosphatidylcholine intake was associated with lower incident dementia and better cognitive performance in men in Eastern Finland.”
So, it may interest you to know that US studies show that most adults consume less than the adequate intake of choline, as set out by the US Food and Nutrition Board. The recommended amount of daily choline for men is 550 mg and 425 mg for women. In the US, the average daily choline intake from foods and beverages in adults is 402 mg in men and 278 mg in women. Evidence is accumulating that getting adequate choline each day may be one more important strategy to prevent dementia, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease as we age. As such, I have included a chart below showing the amount of choline found in many common healthy foods.
You will see that beef, egg yolk, and beef liver contain significant amounts of choline, but I suggest you refrain from eating these foods or greatly limit their intake due to their negative impact on causing other important health problems that I have reviewed in other video update newsletters. As a quick overview, here are some healthier foods with respectable amounts of choline: soybeans and soy products, chicken breast, Atlantic cod, Shitake mushrooms, potatoes, kidney beans, quinoa, 1% milk, non-fat yogurt, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cottage cheese, canned tuna, peanuts, cauliflower, green peas, sunflower seeds, brown rice, whole-wheat bread or pita bread, cabbage, tangerines, and mandarin oranges. See the chart below for exact details.
I personally take 1-2, lecithin capsules (1200 mg) each day to top up my phosphatidylcholine and choline intake. There is approximately 180 mg of phosphatidylcholine in each 1200 mg lecithin capsule.
I’ve included the references for this information in the text below.
Amount of Choline per Serving
½ cup Soybeans – 107 mg
Chicken breast or 3oz – 72 mg
Fish, cod, Atlantic – 3oz – 71 mg
Mushrooms, Shitake, cooked – ½ cup – 58 mg
Potatoes – 1 large with skin – 57 mg
Beans, kidney, canned – ½ cup – 45 mg
Quinoa, cooked, 1 cup – 43 mg
Milk 1% – 1 cup – 43 mg
Yogurt, vanilla, non-fat, 1 cup – 38 mg
Brussels sprouts, boiled, ½ cup – 32 mg
Broccoli – ½ cup – 31 mg
Cottage cheese, non-fat – 1 cup 26 mg
Fish, tuna, white canned in water – ½ cup – 25 mg
Peanuts, dry roasted, ¼ cup – 24 mg
Cauliflower – ½ cup – 24 mg
Peas, green, boiled – ½ cup – 24 mg
Sunflower seeds – ¼ cup – 19 mg
Rice, brown – cooked 1-cup – 19 mg
Whole wheat bread or pita – 1 large – 10 mg
Cabbage, cooked -1/2 cup – 15 mg
Tangerine, mandarin oranges, ½ cup – 10 mg
Beans or kiwifruit or carrots or apples (1/2 cup) – 2-8 mg
Cuts of Beef – 3 oz – 71 – 117 m
Egg Yolk – 1 large egg – 147 mg
Beef liver – 3 oz – 356 mg
1.Maija P T Ylilauri, Sari Voutilainen, Eija Lönnroos, Heli E K Virtanen, Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen, Jukka T Salonen, Jyrki K Virtanen. Associations of dietary choline intake with risk of incident dementia and with cognitive performance: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019, https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqz148/5540729?redirectedFrom=fulltext
2. Choline Requirements and Average Intake:
National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,