Eggs and other animal proteins are among nature’s best choline supplement sources for patients
What’s your favorite breakfast? If you are like many people, odds are good it will include eggs. In fact, Americans consumed almost 300 eggs per person just last year, and estimates look to be even better for this year.1 Part of the reason why eggs are now seeing a resurgence in popularity is the fact that they have finally shed their notorious reputation of being bad for people who need to watch their cholesterol levels, while also being among nature’s No. 1 best choline supplement.
Recent research has shown that eggs are a good source of the nutrient choline, which is important for a number of neurological and motor functions.2 What is choline, and why is it so important for the body, particularly for pregnant or breastfeeding women?
What is choline?
Choline is used within the brain and nervous system to form acetylcholine, which is an important neurotransmitter for memory, mood, and muscle control.2
It is also involved in metabolism, early brain development, and formation of cell membranes. Choline is found in many foods, including animal protein sources such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy other than eggs. Some cruciferous vegetables and beans, as well as nuts, seeds, and whole grains are non-animal best choline supplement sources.
Although the human liver does make a certain amount of choline, it is not enough to sustain the body.2
Daily choline intake requirements
As shown below, choline intake requirements are approximately identical for both males and females until puberty, at which point, males have higher choline requirements. However, women who are pregnant or lactating also have higher daily choline intake requirements.
Choline Intake Requirements2
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth-6 mos. 125 mg/day 125 mg/day
7-12 mos. 150 mg/day 150 mg/day
1-3 years 200 mg/day 200 mg/day
4-8 years 250 mg/day 250 mg/day
9-13 years 375 mg/day 375 mg/day
14-18 years 550 mg/day 400 mg/day 450 mg/day 550 mg/day
19+ years 550 mg/day 425 mg/day 450 mg/day 550 mg/day
How much choline are your patients getting?
A 2017 study in the journal Nutrients used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2009-14 to determine just how much choline the average American was getting in their diet.3
The study showed that Americans across a wide variety of age and other demographic groups did not get enough choline in their diet. Only 8% of adults met the proper daily intake levels, while only 8.5% of pregnant women were getting enough choline. Children were more likely than adults to have adequate choline levels, and those adults who were getting enough choline in their diet were most likely doing so by consuming eggs. Nevertheless, very few people achieved adequate levels of choline intake.
The authors concluded: “This research illustrates that it is extremely difficult to achieve the AI (adequate intake) for choline without consuming eggs or taking a dietary supplement.”3
Is the best choline supplement better than an egg?
While eating more eggs can help increase choline levels, this does not necessarily make them nature’s best choline supplement for your patients. Fried eggs can be high in fat, as compared to boiled, baked, or poached eggs.
Furthermore, some of your patients may have egg allergies or follow a strict vegan diet that does not include any animal products. For these patients, choline supplements are an excellent alternative.
- Shahbandeh M. Per capita consumption of eggs in the U.S. 2000-2020. Published Jan 28, 2020. Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.
- Choline Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated July 10, 2020. Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.
- Wallace TC, Fulgoni VL. Usual choline intakes are associated with egg and protein food consumption in the United States. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):839.