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Choline is a recently discovered nutrient.
It was only acknowledged as a required nutrient by the Institute of Medicine in 1998.
Although your body makes some, you need to get choline from your diet to avoid a deficiency.
However, many people are not meeting the recommended intake for this nutrient (1Trusted Source).
Bodybuilders and athletes who take Choline will typically combine it with several other components as part of a synergistic weight loss formula. This procedure is known as stacking.
Choline has been successfully stacked together with Carnitine and Caffeine in a powerful weight loss cocktail. Choline and Carnitine work together to supply your cells with fat so you are metabolizing lipids at a faster rate.
Choline is not actually considered a mineral or a vitamin, but is known to be an essential micronutrient needed for many functions of the body, especially for brain function. So while at this time there isn’t an official Daily Value Recommendation for Choline established by the USDA, it’s important to avoid a choline deficiency to help support various systems throughout the body, including the nervous, endocrine, digestive and reproductive systems.
In a clinical trial with 22 female athletes, choline supplementation (2 g daily, 7 days before a competition) reduced body mass index (BMI) by 12% with no side effects on their performance .
According to an observational trial with over 3,200 subjects, lower dietary choline intake was linked with :
- More body fat
- Increased weight
- Higher body mass index
- Greater waist-to-hip ratio
In other words, people who consumed more choline were less likely to become obese.
A study on obese mice confirmed the potential of choline to stimulate weight loss by enhancing mitochondrial function and fat burning .
However, a review of 50 clinical trials reported inconsistent effects of choline on body composition .
Choline moves lipids (fats) from the liver and helps the betaine form, a significant methyl donor, which is used in some bodily processes. This is what makes choline an essential nutritional supplement if you want to burn fat more efficiently and stop yourself from putting on more weight. The lipotropic action of choline means that it helps the body use fat to energy through other sources, like glucose, which is usually recorded first. (1, 2, 3)
Choline also helps the liver to break down and recycle the “trapped” fats. The average level of this nutrient in your system ensures that fatty acids are available for cellular mitochondria, which can then convert these fats into ATP or energy.
While this may not be the most effective weight loss supplement, this makes a great addition to any product of a natural diet pill or stack. Studies on choline for weight loss have been promising so far for neurological and weight loss goals, however, additional studies are still needed to determine the effects of extra choline in the body fully. At present, choline is available only as a food supplement, and the FDA has not approved choline as a drug for the prevention or treatment of any conditions.
Bodybuilding.com lists choline as an important dietary supplement to help you burn fat more efficiently. Choline is a nonessential micronutrient that has been shown to have a lipotropic effect, meaning it promotes the body’s use of fat and may help the liver dispose of “trapped” fats. On the scale of most effective weight loss supplements, according to Nutros.com, choline is not as effective as other nutrients such as pyruvate, green tea and 7-Keto, but still may provide positive benefits for individuals trying to lose weight.
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
Higher intake of choline is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease (25Trusted Source).
Folate and choline help convert the amino acid homocysteine to methionine.
Therefore, a deficiency of either nutrient can result in an accumulation of homocysteine in your blood.
Elevated levels of homocysteine in your blood are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and strokes (26).
However, evidence is mixed.
Although choline may lower homocysteine levels, the association of choline intake with heart disease risk is not clear (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Choline is essential during fetal development, yet many pregnant women don’t have adequate intakes .
- Ensures proper brain structure and functioning
- May enhance memory and cognition
- Prevents birth defects and mental illnesses
In a clinical trial of 26 pregnant women, doubling the choline intake in the third trimester (to 930 mg/day) significantly improved the infants’ cognition .
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause a range of physical and mental disorders in the offspring, collectively known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) .
A review of 10 Ukrainian studies concluded that prenatal supplementation with choline (750 mg daily) could improve cognition in babies exposed to alcohol during pregnancy .
In 69 pregnant women who were heavy drinkers, choline supplementation (2 g/day) improved the growth of infants and reduced their cognitive impairments .
Choline supports fetal spinal cord development, which helps prevent neural tube defects and other anomalies .
In a trial of over 180,000 participants, the offspring of mothers with the lowest choline intake had 2.4x higher rates of NTDs. The effect was independent of folic acid supplementation 
Increased choline intake during pregnancy may support fetal development, enhance cognition, and prevent birth defects. Larger well–designed clinical trials should investigate this further.
In recommended doses, choline may cause side effects of stomach ache, loose stools or diarrhea. Choline dosages higher than the UL are associated with several negative effects, as noted by the LPI. These include fishy body odor, increased perspiration and salivation, dizziness, vomiting, and low blood pressure. Patients with depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver or kidney disorders, or the genetic condition trimethylaminuria may not be able to safely take doses of choline around the UL level. People with bipolar disorder should not take any choline supplements.
Doses for choline vary significantly.
Typically a dose of 250mg to 500mg is used for general health purposes once daily.
For mechanisms through acetylcholine, the choline should be pulsed in high doses acutely as higher doses are partitioned to the brain to a greater extent. 1-2g is typically used.
Doses should be titrated to suit the individual, as too high of a dose at any given time may give the user a headache. It is suggested that doses start out at 50-100mg daily and that users adjust upwards in accordance with their tolerance.