Cognitive Health & Memory
Choline is needed before birth to increase the number of stem cells that add to the pool of nerve cells that are available throughout life. Insufficient choline in the fetal brain adversely affects the areas of the brain that regulate higher thinking and memory. Choline is especially critical to visual memory – the kind children use for mental math and many adults employ to remember a new route after driving it only once. Here are just a few examples of exciting new scientific finding on maternal choline intake:
- Memory and Academics: Choline may improve lifelong memory. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health studied a group of children aged 7 who were born to mothers with higher levels of choline intake during pregnancy. They found a link between increased prenatal choline intake and improved intelligence and memory.
- Mental Focus: Choline may improve mental focus and accuracy. In a 2015 study conducted in the Netherlands and published in Nature, higher choline intakes appear to result in more accurate responses and hand-eye coordination.
Choline remains important throughout life as maintains the integrity of the communication systems for cells within the brain and the rest of the body. Choline is used by the brain to make a messenger molecule called acetylcholine, which helps the brain communicate faster. In phospholipid form, choline contributes to brain cell structure and provides protection for primary transmission lines.
When we don’t get enough choline in our diets, our bodies must choose and prioritize where the available choline is used first. The brain has top priority and research has shown that both fatty liver and muscle damage are among the first problems to occur in individuals who are deprived of choline in their diet. The best way to keep axons and neurons performing at their best is to ensure you’re getting enough choline, either through good dietary sources, fortified foods or dietary supplements. For more information on how choline helps with cognitive function, click here for a link to a video with Dr. Steven Zeisel of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.