SEP 05, 2019 8:40 AM PDT

Choline: A Key Nutrient Lacking in Plant-Based Diets

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Dietary trends are consistently changing. However, the shift to plant-based or vegan diets is gaining momentum for health-based and planet-friendly reasons. While this shift is commendable in its own right, it is important to ensure that whatever diet you’re choosing provides your entire body with the fuel it needs to operate effectively.

Dr. Emma Derbyshire, a Registered Public Health Nutritionist with the U.K. organization Nutritional Insight, recently published an article in the British Medical Journal’s Nutrition, Prevention, and Health expressing her science-based concerns about a key nutrient that plant-based diets lack—choline. According to her article, choline is an essential nutrient for the human body, but the body does not produce enough choline on its own. Ample amounts of choline must come from dietary or supplemental sources.

Dietary choline occurs in foods such as beef, eggs, fish, chicken, nuts, and milk. Some plant foods—such as broccoli—can provide choline, but not enough to support the requirements of a healthy human body. In a statement to BMJ, Dr. Derbyshire says, “This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets.”

Choline plays key roles in the human body at various life stages. It is critical during fetal development as it modifies brain and spinal cord structure, which influences lifelong memory function and brain development. During pregnancy and lactation, women are advised to increase their choline intake. In adults, choline plays important roles in cell structure and neurotransmitter synthesis. Choline deficiencies may cause liver disease and neurological disorders.

According to Dr. Derbyshire, the majority of adults in Europe, Canada, Australia, and America are not meeting the recommended daily intake of choline. The European Food Safety Authority recommended 400 milligrams per day for adults over the age of 18 years. Pregnant and lactating women should take 480 mg/day and 520 mg/day, respectively.

Dr. Derbyshire’s key concern lies with the combination of the rising popularity of plant-based diets and the UK government’s lack of information regarding appropriate dietary recommendations for choline intake. She states: “More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this. If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required.”

Sources: BMJ, BMJ Article

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
OCT 01, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
OCT 01, 2020
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
The heart is a vital part of the body that can last one hundred years, yet even a small change can cause massive consequ ...
SEP 28, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Why Some Young, Healthy People Get Severe COVID-19
SEP 28, 2020
Why Some Young, Healthy People Get Severe COVID-19
Since the start of the pandemic, scientists have been trying to find out why some people get such severe illness from SA ...
OCT 01, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Presenting the World's Smallest Ultrasound Detector
OCT 01, 2020
Presenting the World's Smallest Ultrasound Detector
It’s smaller than a human cell, but the diminutive size of the newly-developed ultrasound detector is by no means ...
OCT 14, 2020
Cancer
Using Plasma Scalpels with Chemotherapy Against Brain Cancer
OCT 14, 2020
Using Plasma Scalpels with Chemotherapy Against Brain Cancer
Cold atmospheric plasma is a relatively new technique that utilizes a tool that generates a sort of plasma scalpel, exce ...
OCT 15, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Gene Variants Influence Aging and Mobility in the Elderly
OCT 15, 2020
Gene Variants Influence Aging and Mobility in the Elderly
Small changes in a gene that is involved in controlling the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine could influence how ...
OCT 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
Genetically Engineered Foods Could Alleviate Nutritional Deficiencies
OCT 19, 2020
Genetically Engineered Foods Could Alleviate Nutritional Deficiencies
There are over two billion people around the world that don't get the recommended levels of minerals and vitamins in ...
Loading Comments...