A national nutrition body is warning that 90 per cent of Australians are not consuming adequate quantities of choline. Scientists are even labelling it the “forgotten nutrient”.
The dangers of inadequate consumption are nerve function irregularities, weaker bones and diminished brain function.
On the back of a heightened international focus, a group of Australia’s leading food scientists and medical researchers recently convened to discuss this dietary issue and the urgent need for both a widespread awareness campaign and more research.
They concluded that most Australians are unaware of the benefits of this essential nutrient and the need to incorporate foods containing choline into their diet.
Professor Tim Green, from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, says “research shows choline plays an important role in brain development and may help prevent birth defects during pregnancy as well as reduce the risk of cognitive decline in older people”.
Choline can be found in foods such as eggs, meat, fish and milk, as well as some green vegetables and whole grains. However, eggs provide more than double the amount of choline per 100 grams than other common foods that contain choline.
“New research being conducted in the field has revealed that choline plays a much larger role in maintaining good health than originally thought,” says Prof. Green.
He says that eating enough choline-rich food is important throughout a person’s entire life cycle as the nutrient contributes to all cell membrane formation and is necessary to both ensure the junctions between nerves work properly and to regulate nerve messages.
Research also indicates that choline plays a role in protecting against degeneration of the brain as we age, with recent studies finding a link between choline levels available to the brain and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. There is also evidence that a choline-rich diet builds stronger bones, he says.
Dr Yasmine Probst, senior lecturer at the University of Wollongong says: “Australians over 65 will benefit from incorporating choline-rich foods such as eggs into their diet on a regular basis to support brain health.”
Nutritionists say that an adequate intake of choline is 550mg a day for adult males and 425mg for adult females. One large boiled egg contains 147mg; 85g of lean beef, chicken breast and fish contain about 72mg of choline.
Are you aware of what foods you need to eat to ensure you are ingesting enough choline? Do you take supplements?
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