Choline is an essential nutrient for proper liver, muscle, and brain functions, as well as lipid metabolism and cellular membrane composition. Because choline is found predominantly in animal-derived foods, such as eggs, lean beef, and salmon, vegetarians and vegans may have a greater risk for inadequacy.
Choline has been recognized as an essential nutrient by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies of Medicine since 1998. However, only about 10% of Americans, and 8% of pregnant women, for whom the nutrient is especially important, are getting the sufficient amounts. New and emerging evidence suggests that maternal choline intake during pregnancy, and possibly lactation, has lasting beneficial neurocognitive effects on the offspring.
Additionally, these new analyses have found that the current food patterns recommended by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are insufficient to meet the Adequate Intake (AI) for choline in most age-sex groups. While the human body is found to create low levels of choline itself, it is essential that the nutrient be consumed from outside sources to prevent signs of deficiency.