Overview

Choline is nutrient similar to the B vitamins. It can be made in the liver. It is also found in foods such as meats, fish, nuts, beans, vegetables, and eggs.

Choline is most commonly used for a build up of fat in the liver (hepatic steatosis) in people receiving nutrition through the vein. It is also used for memory, mental function, preventing certain birth defects, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

How does it work ?

Choline is similar to a B vitamin. It is used in many chemical reactions in the body. Choline seems to be an important in the nervous system. In asthma, choline might help decrease swelling and inflammation.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Likely Effective for

  • Build up of fat in the liver (hepatic steatosis) in people receiving nutrition through the vein. People who receive nutrition through the vein can develop choline deficiency. Low blood levels of choline can cause fat to accumulate in the liver. Giving choline intravenously (by IV) helps treat this condition.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Athletic performance. Taking choline by mouth does not seem to improve athletic performance or lessen tiredness during exercise

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Early research shows that taking choline by mouth does not improve memory in older people with memory loss.
  • Hay fever. Early research shows that taking choline by mouth does not reduce allergy symptoms as well as a prescription nasal spray.
  • Asthma. Taking choline by mouth seems to lessen symptoms and the number of days with symptoms in some people with asthma. It also seems to reduce the need to use bronchodilators.
  • Bipolar disorder. Early research shows that taking choline by mouth might reduce some mood symptoms in people with bipolar disorder who are also taking lithium.
  • Cancer. Some research shows that consuming a diet high in choline might lower the risk of cancer.
  • Heart disease. Early research shows that consuming a diet high in choline does not seem to prevent hardening of the arteries, stroke, or death.
  • Brain damage that affects muscle movement (cerebellar ataxia). Early research shows that taking choline does not improve this condition.
  • Memory and thinking skills (cognitive function). Taking a single dose of choline before exercising does not seem to improve memory or thinking skills after exercising. Including choline in nutritional fluid that is injected in the vein does not seem to improve thinking skills.
  • Diabetes. Early research shows that taking choline or eating more choline is unlikely to benefit diabetes.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Giving choline by mouth does not seem to improve memory or thinking skills in children aged 2.5 to 5 years with this condition.
  • Infant development. Some early research suggests that children of mothers who get more choline during pregnancy have improved memory at the age of 7 years. It's not clear if children of mothers who get more choline during pregnancy have improved intelligence. Results from other studies are conflicting. Some early research shows that premature infants given choline and other supplements by mouth until 2 years of age do not have better cognitive function.
  • Birth defects of the brain and spine (neural tube birth defects). Early research suggests that women who consume a lot of choline in their diet have a lower risk of having babies with a neural tube birth defect.
  • Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Low dietary intake of choline is linked with increased liver scarring in some people with this condition. But taking choline does not seem to reduce the amount of fat in the liver of people with this condition.
  • Alzheimer disease.
  • Autism.
  • Depression.
  • High cholesterol.
  • An inherited brain disorder that affects movements, emotions, and thinking (Huntington disease).
  • Liver scarring (cirrhosis).
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the liver (hepatitis).
  • Tourette syndrome.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate choline for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Choline is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken in appropriate amounts. Taking high doses of choline is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for adults due to the increased risk of side effects. Doses up to 3.5 grams for adults over 18 years of age are not likely to cause unwanted side effects. Doses over 3.5 grams daily are more likely to cause side effects such as sweating, a fishy body odor, diarrhea, and vomiting.

When given by IV: Choline is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when given intravenously (by IV) in appropriate amounts by a healthcare professional.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Choline is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth and used appropriately during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Doses up to 3 grams daily for pregnant and breast-feeding women up to 18 years of age, and 3.5 grams daily for women 19 years and older are not likely to cause unwanted side effects. There isn't enough reliable information to know if choline is safe to use in higher doses when pregnant or breast-feeding. It's best to stick to recommended doses.

Children: Choline is LIKELY SAFE for most children when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts. Taking high doses of choline by mouth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE due to the increased risk of side effects. Doses up to 1 gram daily for children 1-8 years of age, 2 grams daily for children 9-13, and 3 grams daily for children 14-18, are not likely to cause unwanted side effects.

Loss of bladder control: Taking choline in doses of 9 grams daily or more might worsen this condition.

Interactions ?

We currently have no information for CHOLINE Interactions.

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • General: Adequate intake (AI) of choline for adults is 550 mg per day for males, 425 mg per day for females, 450 mg per day for pregnant females, and 550 mg per day for lactating women. Daily Upper Intake Levels (UL) for choline, which is the highest level of intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects, is 3.5 grams for adults.
INTRAVENOUS:
  • For build up of fat in the liver (hepatic steatosis) in people receiving nutrition through the vein: 1-4 grams of choline has been used daily for up to 24 weeks.
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:
  • General: Adequate intake (AI) of choline is 125 mg per day for infants less than 6 months, 150 mg per day for infants 7-12 months, 200 mg per day for children 1-3 years, 250 mg per day for children 4-8 years, and 375 mg per day for children 9-13 years. Daily Upper Intake Levels (UL) for choline are 1 gram daily for children 1-8 years, 2 grams for children 9-13 years, and 3 grams for children 14-18 years.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.