Choline is a B vitamin and an essential nutrient. Choline plays an important role in a number of biological processes, including fat and cholesterol transport, energy metabolism, and cell and nerve signaling. In addition, choline is needed to produce acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in memory and muscle control, and phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, two structural components of cell membranes.1

The body produces small amounts of choline, but choline must also be included in your diet in order to maintain health. Abundant in a number of foods, choline is also available in supplement form.2

Health Benefits

Here’s a look at the research behind the health benefits of choline:

Cognitive Function

Studies suggest that choline is needed for the normal development of the brain and for memory enhancement. In an observational study, study participants with lower choline levels had poorer cognitive performance (measured by sensorimotor speed, executive function, perceptual speed, and global cognition) than participants with higher choline levels.3

Heart Health

Although choline is sometimes said to enhance heart health, a large observational study published in Atherosclerosis in 2014 found no association between choline intake and risk of peripheral artery disease.4

Liver Health

Not getting enough choline may harm your liver, according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For the study, 57 adults were fed a diet containing 550 mg of choline daily for 10 days. Next, the study members were fed a diet containing less than 50 mg of choline daily for up to 42 days. Study results revealed that, when deprived of dietary choline, 77% of men, 80% of postmenopausal women, and 44% of premenopausal women developed fatty liver or muscle damage.5


Choline may be necessary for the developing brain. In a 2010 report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, for example, the author stated that increased consumption of choline-rich foods may be essential for women during pregnancy in order to ensure normal brain development in the fetus.6

Choline Deficiency

Choline supplementation may also help in the treatment of choline deficiency.
Choline deficiency may lead to increased levels of homocysteine (an amino acid linked to heart disease), according to a study.7 Choline deficiency may produce a number of symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • memory problems
  • muscle damage

In cases of severe choline deficiency, people may experience liver damage and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.