I’m always recommending that people who want to THRIVE and not just survive, work with a qualified evidence based nutrition practitioner who has devoted their studies to plant based nutrition. In fact, it’s why I created Health Mastery Institute, to train people in science, evidence and facts with research. 26 Extensive Modules of in depth understanding on liver health, detoxification, how the body processes nutrients, micronutrients and macronutrients, adrenal and hormone health, supporting the musculoskeletal system, nutrition through the life stages from birth through old age, and what the nutrition requirements are AT EACH STAGE! People wanted depth of knowledge, and they get it. We have many Registered Dieticians, nutritionists and health coaches who came to HMI seeking the level of deeper knowledge that they knew would truly enable them to change lives.

Qualified nutrition advice is irreplaceable.

Which leads me to the nutrient Choline. Although woefully under-discussed, choline is vital for the proper functioning of our cells and is absolutely critical for healthy growth and development- yet only 10% of the population is meeting the daily recommended intake. The challenging part is that on a plant based diet, it can be a little challenging to meet your daily amount.

The amounts needed daily are: 425 mg per day for adult women and even higher for pregnant and breastfeeding women. For adult men, 550 mg daily, and kids aged 4-8 need about 250mg daily. In a recent study done in 2010, when deprived of choline in their diet almost 80% of the men and women developed liver or muscle damage.

Choline is an essential water-soluble nutrient that is usually grouped in as part of the B-Vitamin complex. Although not technically a vitamin, it is required for:

  • Structural Integrity of Cell Membranes: Choline plays a role in the synthesis of phopholipids, phosphatidylcholine and sphinogomyelin, the key structural components of the human cell membrane.
  • Methylation: This is one of the most basic processes of life, and no organism could survive without the process of methylation. It is involved in DNA creation, detoxification in your liver, and brain messaging among many others. Deficits in methylation have been linked to memory loss and cardiovascular disease.
  • Metabolism & Liver Function: Research has shown that choline deficiency can cause Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes insulin resistance, elevated serum triglycerides, increased serum cholesterol and obesity. Choline deficiency also contributes to fatty liver disease.
  • Nervous System Activity & Development: Choline is essential in the formation of the cholinergic neurons that make up portions of the brain, parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. It is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in muscle function, and memory.
  • Cancer Prevention & Anti-Inflammatory: Studies have found that people with diets rich in choline have the lowest levels of inflammatory markers like IL-6, TNF-alpha and C-reactive protein. Additionally, people who are deficient in choline for even as short as one month, have been found to have a significant increase in DNA damage and cancer risk.
  • Early Growth & Development: It is particularly important for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding to eat choline-rich foods, as this nutrient plays an important role in the fetal development of the brain and nervous system. Deficiency in pregnancy has been linked to long-term learning disability and neural tube defects.

Who should be looking at taking choline supplements like non-GMO soy lecithin? Since the highest levels of choline are in eggs and other animal foods, vegans, vegetarians, athletes and people who drink alcohol on a regular basis should consider supplementing. Remember that nutrition deficiencies can take many many years to manifest, especially if you are young and relatively healthy.

What is truly scary is that I’ve seen pregnancy and breastfeeding raw food plans, created by a “nutritionist”, without even a glimmer of thought to choline and other critical nutrients for a developing baby. Low choline intake is linked to neural tube defects in infants, as well as damaged memory. Low choline intake in moms also raises the risk for preeclampsia, premature birth and low birth weight.

Yes some greens like spinach, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other plant based foods contain choline in relatively small amounts. The important factors are always: Am I getting enough of the essential nutrients on a daily basis, and am I absorbing the nutrients in the forms I am taking?

To give you an example, as a woman, if you ate all in one day:

  • a whole cup of wheat germ
  • one whole pound of cauliflower
  • and one whole pound of spinach

you would be right at about your minimum adequate intake of choline. Or, you could eat 6 full cups of firm tofu daily, or 6 full cups of almonds, 13 cups of cabbage, or 23 grapefruits daily. Clearly, I wouldn’t recommend any of those options because you would be likely to be deficient in many other critical nutrients. So, unless you are on a nutritionist designed juice cleanse which would include massive amounts of these vegetables in one day in juiced form, these are not perfect options.

My choline supplement of choice is Healthforce Nutritionals non-gmo Soy Lecithin. I use it often in smoothies, and almost always when I am making raw vegan nicecream. The nicecream in the photo is:

  • 3 frozen organic bananas
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of non-gmo soy lecithin
  • 1 cup of organic blackberries

Topped with organic hemp seeds!

For more research see: