Choline, Choline, Don't Take My Brain Away

DISCLAIMERS:

Apologies to Dolly Parton for the title of this post.

This is not an attempt to convince anyone to eliminate animal products from their diet. I eat meat and dairy.

O.K. let's go!

See that hamburger up there? Is it beef? Turkey? Plant-based something or other?

No doubt you have been following the rise of the plant based meat substitute. From burgers to chicken to sausages and more, plants are standing in for meat. For many people, there is a general trend toward moving away from animal products. One of the older concerns about vegetarian or vegan diets was the issue of getting enough protein. Today, it is easy to get all the complete protein you need from non-animal sources. There are, of course, soy and pea protein, which are basically complete. Plus, there are any number of plant based protein powders that will do the job. Or, you could combine food sources to make complete proteins, such as rice and lentils.

Protein, however, is not the only nutritional concern when going plant-based. Some nutritionists are sounding the alarm that plant-based diets may leave people deficient in choline. Choline is an important nutrient, especially for your brain. And especially for a developing brain, which is why doctors recommend that pregnant women get even more of it.

Your liver actually makes a bit of choline, but not enough. There is some choline in beans and nuts, and even a bit in cruciferous vegetables (yuck).

But the best sources of choline are meat, fish and eggs.

And that’s why the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health published an article calling for clearer government standards for dietary choline intake. Surveys in North America, Europe and Australia all revealed that most people don’t get enough. Choline, that is.

Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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