Choline is a water soluble B vitamin that was discovered more recently than the B vitamins that tend to be known by a number, such as B1 - thiamin - the first B vitamin to be discovered. (B1)
Choline is involved in folate metabolism, another B vitamin, so a deficiency of choline can effectively cause symptoms of folate deficiency which prenatally may include neural tube defects for the developing infant. Supplementation of choline during pregnancy may help protect the developing infant from some of the negative effects of alcohol exposure or other neurotoxins. (choline in pregnancy) (folate/folic acid and methylation)
Reduced levels of choline may also increase cancer risk especially within the liver. Folate and choline are both methyl group donors and DNA, the coding material within genes, can be activated or inactivated by removing or adding methyl groups. Choline defieciency may also cause a reduction in activity of a tumor suppressor gene which helps identify and remove mis-formed sections of DNA. (9, see this post)
Choline also is involved in the metabolism of fats and deficiency may lead to fatty liver disease as fats collect in the liver instead of being transported to other areas of the body on lipoproteins. Food sources of choline include egg yolk, (choline), organ meats such as liver, beans, seeds, cauliflower, nutritional yeast flakes, see Table 1, choline food sources.and a previous post, Choline and Betaine. Nutritional yeast flakes are also a good source of vitamin B12, folate, and several other B vitamins and could be used in a vegan diet. (vitamin B12)
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