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How about Choline?

Another nutrient I've been noticing that is always coming up quite low in my tracking in Cron-o-meter is Choline. In fact it's been SO low, that I got worried and started taking a Choline supplement.

Anyone else notice this? Any vegan suggestions for it?

A tablespoon (8 g) soy lecithin         About 250 mg choline 60 calories
A pound (454 grams) of cauliflower 177 mg choline 104 calories
A pound of spinach                          113 mg choline 154 calories
A cup of wheat germ                         202 mg choline 432 calories
Two cups (0.47 liters) firm tofu         142 mg choline 353 calories
Two cups of cooked kidney beans  108 mg choline 450 calories.
A cup of uncooked quinoa              119 mg choline 626 calories.
A cup of uncooked amaranth          135 mg choline 716 calories
A grapefruit                                         19 mg choline 103 calories
3 cups (710 cc) cooked brown rice  54 mg choline 649 calories
A cup (146 g) of peanuts                77 mg choline 828 calories
A cup (143 g) of almonds                 74 mg choline 822 calories

I wouldn't worry about it. All of the RDAs are designed to cover 97.5 percent of all people and you don't actually need to get every nutrient every day. you also look pretty small. also, your absorption is probably better than those eating sad since your vegan.. and the RDAs are based off of SAD eaters.


But I come up VERY low, like only 30% of the RDA, I don't feel comfortable with being that low in such an important nutrient.

From the USDA:

Adequate Intake
9−13 y  375mg/day
14−18 y  400
19−30 y  425
31-50 y  425
50-70 y  425
> 70 y  425

I've been only reaching about 80mg, nowhere near just the Adequate Intake. And I do eat quinoa, beans, spinach, but the amounts of choline in them are so small, that it doesn't add up to very much. If you notice, the amounts on that list are huge - 2 cups of tofu, a pound of cauliflower. And that's still only a third of the adequate intake for the day!

Recent studies have raised hopes that an adequate intake of choline on a daily basis can reduce breast cancer risk by as much as 24%.

Our bodies can't make enough of the B vitamin choline if we are low in it and a second B vitamin, folate. Choline helps us absorb and use fats, and is required for making acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter needed for muscle control, memory storage and other functions. Both nutrients contain what’s known as a methyl group, which the body uses to form genetic material or DNA.

I guess I'll keep taking the Choline supplement for now, unless I can find a vegan superfood that has lots of it! :-)


"Our bodies can't make enough of the B vitamin choline if we are low in it and a second B vitamin, folate. "

I wanted to highlight this so perhaps your anxiety will be lessened.  Choline is synthesized by the body.  My guess is that being vegan you're getting plenty of folate.  You're probably not as low as you think and probably not even low at all.

I understand the desire to strive for a healthy diet, but you're obsessing about being perfect.  Eating a wide variety of whole healthy foods should cover you.  I do appreciate the idea that since you have some restrictions in what you can eat that you track your diet to see what you need to fix, but try not to obsess and don't waste your money on a choline supplement.

What Hespy says is true.  We don't need 100% of our requirements on a daily basis, variety over the course of several days promotes health.


It seems that we cannot produce enough on our own:

de novo synthesis of phosphatidylcholine is not sufficient to maintain adequate choline nutritional status when dietary folate and choline intakes are low (12).
Because phosphatidylcholine can be synthesized and metabolized to provide choline, choline was not previously considered an essential nutrient (3). However, recent research indicates that humans cannot synthesize enough choline to meet their metabolic needs (see Deficiency).
Strict vegetarians who consume no milk or eggs may be at risk of inadequate choline intake.

I think that it's not something to risk, as not getting enough could cause liver damage and muscle damage:

The main criterion for establishing the AI for choline was the prevention of liver damage...
More recently, a study in 57 adults who were fed choline-deficient diets under controlled conditions found that 77% of men, 80% of postmenopausal women, and 44% of premenopausal women developed fatty liver, liver damage, and/or muscle damage (7).

So, I guess till I can figure out a way to meet the recommended minimum through food, I'll keep taking the supplement. Even over the course of multiple weeks, my average intake of Choline was only 80mg/day, far lower than the recommended minimum of 425mg/day for females.


Yes, I eat quite a wide variety of foods. I eat a different grain and bean at every meal, with a variety of veggies. I do not eat any junk food or sweets at all, and no processed foods whatsoever, except for almond milk.

As I mentioned before though, non-animal foods contain such small amounts of choline that it's very, very difficult to reach the recommended intake as a vegan, or anywhere close to even half of the recommended minimum, even over an average of many weeks. Since liver damage and muscle damage can result from a deficiency, I think it is worth making sure one is at least reaching the minimum intake.

It isn't causing me any anxiety, I just want to make sure that I am getting a good, well-balanced nutrition. I track my food and so I know exactly how I am doing nutritionally and know where the deficits are.

I was just wondering if anyone else had found a "wonder" vegan food that might be really high in Choline. It appears that no one has though, so I'll just keep supplementing for it.


x xxx


Yikes, I had heard that eggs were linked to colon cancer in women, but I didn't realize it was the choline itself in eggs and dairy that were!

Ofcourse, being vegan takes care of that. But does excess choline itself cause it? Let's remember that the RDA are set by studying isolated nutrients. I'd be concerned about taking a choline supplement. Small amounts of whole plant food choline are probably much better utilized by the body than isolated synthetic supplements just to reach the "RDA".

I'm still reeling about this choline thing myself. I am still a semi-vegetarian hanging out here to hopefully be convinced to go full vegan. I was steeped in the Dr. Mercola/Traditional Foods/Jordan Rubin circle for 4 years so it is hard to mentally let go of all animal products. I already made the connection that that diet made me sick, as I was healthy before then ended up with a bout of parasitic/yeast colitis that lasted 1.5 years. I should have realized that came about after 3 years of eating 2 eggs every day for breakfast thinking it was good for me. Colon health is a bigger concern for me than fatty liver, so choline is not something I will overdue.

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