Nutrient to Know: Choline

You probably haven't heard much about choline, but you will be amazed at the important jobs this nutrient has.

What is it?

Choline is an "essential" nutrient -- meaning you need to get it from food because the body can’t make enough of it. (I remember it this way: Essential nutrients must be Eaten.) Technically choline is not a vitamin, but the body uses just like it uses water-soluble vitamins like the B vitamins and vitamin C.

Why is it good for you?

Choline helps to form lecithin, a structural part of every cell in the body. It also plays a role in the formation of acetylcholine, a powerful chemical that sends messages throughout the nervous system. Some recent research also suggests that choline influences fetal brain development, so moms-to-be should make sure they are eating plenty of choline-rich foods.

Where can I find it?

Milk, eggs, liver, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds and wheat germ all contain choline. It's also available in supplement form and is in many multivitamins. A recent Los Angeles Times article discusses whether or not choline supplements are necessary. Eating a well-rounded diet is the best way to get your daily dose of it.

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