Choline is a dietary component found in many protein and fat-containing foods. It acts as a cell-signalling molecule, as an acetylcholine precursor, and adds structural integrity to cell membranes.
What Does It Do?
Much like tyrosine, dietary choline is an effective neurotransmitter precursor. However choline is responsible for the production of another neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is released in the brain and at the neuromuscular junction and is responsible for many physiologically important events.
In trained endurance athletes, plasma choline concentrations can be reduced by up to 40% during training or competition. These reductions in blood choline could lead to a reduction in acetylcholine synthesis (as indicated above) and therefore focus, memory, and performance. Choline supplementation can replenish these reduced blood choline concentrations.
Due to its effects on brain acetylcholine levels, choline supplementation can enhance memory capacity in healthy humans and rats. Furthermore, choline, in conjunction with supplements that prolong the effects of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction, may improve neuromuscular transmission. Since dietary lecithin can increase plasma choline concentrations and is better tolerated than choline, it is best to supplement with lecithin rather than choline itself.
Where Does It Come From?
Choline (especially in lecithin form) is a basic dietary component and is present in many fat and protein-containing foods (i.e. eggs, meats, soybeans, peanuts, etc).
This component of food is usually present in the fatty portion of the cell membrane (phospholipids).
How Do I Use It?
For both strength and endurance athletes, 1g of choline per day is recommended during intense training periods. Since lecithin can increase acetylcholine synthesis, it may act synergistically with policosanol, a supplement that increases acetylcholine action at the neuromuscular junction.
By: John Berardi
- Conlay L, et al. Int J Sports Med. 13 Suppl 1:S141-2, 1992.
- Groff, J and Gropper, S. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 541-543, 2000.