Is the vegan diet choline deficient? know the truth

Choline is a nutrient that participates in many functions of the organism. This does not produce it in sufficient quantities and must be supplied through food. For this reason it is interesting to know whether vegan diets may be choline deficient.

In recent decades, more and more people are adopting vegetarian diets or reducing their meat consumption. On the one hand, these are linked to some positive health indicators and are more sustainable.

However, this leads to a common question about possible lack of nutrients and the need to use supplementation. The last to be questioned is the hill. Find out why the alarm goes off and what is known so far.

Choline: A new but very important nutrient

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Choline is present in many plant-based foods, such as broccoli.

The hill It is a nutrient recognized as essential in 1998 by the Institute of Medicine. It is a water-soluble organic component, but it is neither a vitamin nor a mineral, although it is sometimes included in the group of B vitamins.

The functions of choline span a broad spectrum of human metabolism. For this reason, experts believe that a deficiency could be related to some health problems such as liver disease, atherosclerosis or neurological problems.

These are some of the outstanding features of the hill:

  • It is part of cell membranes.
  • Participates in the formation of neurotransmitter compounds.
  • It is necessary to form a substance responsible for removing cholesterol from the liver.
  • Together with folic acid and vitamin B12, it is essential in DNA synthesis.
  • It plays a key role in the formation of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for nervous system health and memory.
  • It is involved in muscle movement and heartbeat.

Omnivorous and vegan diets: sources of choline

The body produces small amounts of choline, but not enough to perform all of its functions. For this reason it is of particular interest to know in which foods it is present.

This is a list based on data from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the amounts of choline per 100 grams of fresh product in commonly consumed foods:

  • Meats: Pork 87 milligrams, Beef 71 milligrams, Chicken 66 milligrams.
  • Fish: Salmon 91 milligrams, Cod 84 milligrams, Tilapia 83 milligrams.
  • Eggs: 270 milligrams.
  • Vegetables: mushrooms shitake 80 milligrams, edamame 56 milligrams, Brussels sprouts 40 milligrams, broccoli 40 milligrams, cauliflower 39 milligrams.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Flaxseeds 79 milligrams, pistachios 71 milligrams, pumpkin seeds 63 milligrams, cashews 61 milligrams, pine nuts 56 milligrams, almonds 52 milligrams.
  • Legumes: Soybean meal 190 milligrams, soybeans 120 milligrams, peanut butter 95 milligrams, lentils 94 milligrams, white beans 87 milligrams, pinto beans 66 milligrams.
  • Cereals: amaranth 70 milligrams, quinoa 70 milligrams.

Can the vegan diet be low in choline?

In the last decades, plant-based diets are on the rise and are increasingly popular safe and healthy food option. However, questions are periodically raised about its ability to meet the needs of some nutrients. This is the case of iron, calcium or omega 3 among others.

In 2019, a letter published by Dr. Derbyshire in the magazine British Medical Journal Nutrition, Prevention and Health sounded the alarm by stating that the vegan diet was low in choline. The reason: the absence of eggs and meat in the diet, two of the ingredients with the highest amount of choline.

The author strengthens her argument by using as an example the reference healthy diet compiled by magazine EAT Lancet. This reference diet is based on health and sustainability and focuses on reducing meat, eggs and dairy products.

Therefore, and again according to this author, this could lead to a state of deficit for a large part of the population. And it could pose a global public health challenge.

Available data on the issue of vegan diet and choline

So what’s the situation? Is the vegan diet really low in choline and does this pose a health risk? For the moment, and in the absence of specific studies on the subject, this is what can be stated:

  • “Properly planned vegan diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These apply to all stages of the life cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, adolescence and athletes. This is the position taken by American Dietetic Association and shared by other organizations and professional associations.
  • Currently, there is no health concern in relation to a vegan diet and choline deficiency.
  • Instead, there is data that shows that a high percentage of the American population does not consume enough choline. The same happens in Europe or Australia. According to some experts, choline consumption guidelines should be revised for the entire general population.
  • Meat, eggs and dairy products aren’t the only sources of choline. This is present in many foods of plant origin.

Need for integration

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Choline is an essential nutrient, especially during pregnancy.

The choline requirement for the general population varies according to age, gender and some genetic parameters. At present, not all countries have set recommended minimum amounts given the limited research available.

THE European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has established the following benchmarks:

  • 160 milligrams for babies up to 11 months.
  • 140 to 340 milligrams for children aged 1 to 14.
  • 400 milligrams for adults (15 years and older).
  • 480 milligrams in pregnant women and 520 milligrams in infants.

Also, there are individual factors that can vary this amount. Some groups of people are more vulnerable or prone to deprivation. Among these, pregnant women stand out, who have higher requirements and their contribution is essential.

Pregnant, choline is essential for fetal development. It affects stem cell proliferation, apoptosis and alters the structure of the brain and spinal cord. For this reason it plays a role in the development of neural tube defects and long-term memory function.

Even if scarce, some studies evaluate the benefits of choline supplements during pregnancy. However, at present the conclusions cannot be generalized or recommended doses established. Therefore, it is recommended consult the specialist and do not take supplements on your own.

What is known so far about the vegan diet and choline

Diets with a high presence of vegetables and completely vegan diets are fully compatible with a healthy diet, provided they are well planned, sufficient and varied. These two premises must also be taken into consideration in omnivorous diets, otherwise they can also lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Therefore, when following a vegan diet (or any other type of diet) The best thing to do is to find out about the best food sources in order not to run the risk of suffering such deficits.. Likewise, it is recommended to evaluate the need to take supplements with a health professional.

In the case of vegan diet and choline deficiency, experts point out that it can cover the needs of the general population. Because of this it is good to favor foods such as quinoa, amaranth, broccoli, peanut butter, beans, mushrooms or soybeans.

In any case, and due to the wide range of functions that the hill performs, it is interesting to keep abreast of the new conclusions and information that may appear in this regard.

The post Is the vegan diet choline deficient? Knowing the Truth appeared first on research-school.



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