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Choline – A Little Known B vitamin of Tremendous Value

A member of the B vitamin family, choline has been the subject of scientific research for decades. Its importance first came to light in the late 1930s when scientists identified this compound in the pancreas and noted that it prevented the build-up of fatty deposits in the liver. Subsequent research found that choline is actually a component of every cell in the human body.

Although the body is able to produce small amounts of this essential nutrient, it must also be sourced through diet to ensure sufficient availablity. This vitamin helps the cell membranes to function, assists with nerve communications, reduces the concentration of homocysteine in the blood (a compound linked to heart disease), and decreases chronic inflammation. Consequently, choline is very important for our overall health and well-being.

Despite the importance of this vitamin, very few people have actually heard of choline. What’s more alarming is that only 1 in 10 American are actually getting enough of this essential nutrient in their diet. This deficiency compromises cellular function and can lead to various health problems.

Although everyone can benefit from taking a multivitamin containing choline, in certain situations, this nutrient is even more important.

Pregnant & Nursing Mothers

pregnant-motherWhen it comes to pregnancy, choline is a vital vitamin. Women are told that they need to make sure they include plenty of folic acid in their diet during pregnancy. However, research has shown that choline is also very beneficial. Concentrations of this vitamin should be boosted during pregnancy and also while breastfeeding. Choline is important for preventing birth defects and enhancing brain development. This vitamin helps to elevate cognitive function, as well as enhance memory and learning capacity.

Breast Cancer Prevention

In 2008 a study was published in the FASEB Journal concluding that choline can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study analyzed the diets of 3,000 women. The results showed that women with the highest intake of choline were 24 percent less likely to develop breast cancer compared to those women with a reduced intake of this essential vitamin. These results have been supported by other similar studies.

Heart Disease Prevention

Since choline can help lower the concentration of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, a deficiency in this essential vitamin increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Excessively high concentrations of homocystine damages arterial walls, increases bad cholesterol levels and leads to the thickening of the arteries. It also lowers the concentration of nitric oxide in the blood. This gas is essential for maintaining flexible, healthy arterial walls. Ensuring that the body has access to sufficient concentrations of choline is very important for protecting the body’s cardiovascular system.

healthy-woman

Improving Immune Function

The relationship between choline and homocysteine is important not only for cardiovascular health. Elevated homocysteine concentrations weaken the overall immune system and reduce antioxidant activity. This increases oxidation and aging processes, plus makes the body more susceptible to other diseases. By keeping homocysteine concentrations low, choline is able to support overall good health and vitality.

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