Choline: The Imposter Vitamin You’re Probably Missing

Our resident dietitian gives a primer on this important nutrient.



Photo by: FatCamera


Choline is a vitamin-like substance that has historically has been lost in the shadows. Information presented at the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Chicago just a few days ago is beginning to shine a light on this misunderstood nutrient. Health care professionals are buzzing about choline and here’s why you should be too.

What Is Choline?

Choline is similar to a water-soluble vitamin...but it’s not technically a vitamin. It plays a role in body-wide functions including liver health, cell structure, athletic performance, brain function and proper neurological development. This nutrient is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding women to help support baby’s neurological development. Be on the lookout for choline in everything from prenatal vitamins to the nutrition facts panel in the coming months.

Who Needs More Choline?

The short answer is … everyone. According to the Choline Council more than 90% of Americans aren’t getting enough of this important nutrient. A study published in August 2017 reported that a mere 8.03% of adults and 8.51% of pregnant women are meeting their daily needs for choline. Children require 125 mg a day at birth, and this number continues to increase until adult requirements reach 550 mg for men and 425 mg for women. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are even more in need: the recommendations jump to 450 and 550 mg a day, respectively.

Choline-Rich Foods

Your liver does possess the capability to make some choline, but needs can’t be met without eating choline-rich foods. Some of the very best sources include: beef liver, eggs, lean beef, chicken, fish, potatoes, soybeans, mushrooms, quinoa, milk and yogurt. While the list of sources crosses many food groups, to get the most choline, animal-based foods like beef, eggs and fish are most plentiful. The same study that identified poor intakes for most Americans also suggested that eggs and dietary supplements may be the most plausible answer to helping at risk populations get more. Two large eggs contain 294 mg of choline. Three ounces of cooked lean beef contains 117 mg and the same 3-ounce portion of chicken breast or cod contains around 70 mg.

Recipes to Try

Keep Reading

Next Up

Gluten-Free Kid Snacks

Gluten-free packaged snacks your kids will love.

News Update: FDA Hints at Releasing Long-Awaited Salt Guidelines

As blood pressure and health care costs for chronic disease continue to rise, the FDA is preparing to lower salt guidelines. Many folks in the U.S. take in about 3,400 milligrams (or 1 ½ teaspoons) of salt each day, that’s well above the 2,300 milligrams per day (or 1 teaspoon) maximum recommendation. By having food companies and restaurants cut back on salt, the FDA is hoping to lower the incidence of high blood pressure, strokes and other medical proble

The 5 Worst Diets for Weight Loss

Trying a weight loss plan that doesn’t work can become extremely frustrating and discouraging. Before starting any of these diets, read why I say skip ‘em!

"Creamy" Tarragon Pasta Salad

This dairy-and-gluten-free picnic salad gets its creamy texture from dairy-free yogurt instead of mayonnaise.

Turkey and Hummus-Wrapped Pears

Start the new year off right with an easy-to-make, delicious, healthy and party-ready appetizer: pears wrapped in hummus and turkey.

Taste Test: Gluten-Free Stuffings

We ranked the top gluten-free stuffings out there on nutrition, taste and cost. Find out which one to cook on Thanksgiving for your gluten-free family.  

Almond-Pea Soup

Make mom a veggie-loaded, bright green soup for Mother's Day.

Have You Had Your Ice Cream Today?

If you want your ice cream and gluten-free waffle cone too, this is the recipe you’ve been waiting for.

Meet This Grain: Amaranth

This under-appreciated grain is a perfect way to get in your whole grains, plus it’s gluten-free. Get tips on cooking it and creative recipes to try this tiny grain.