choline

Choline linked to better memory & healthier brains

  • A large, long-running study of middle-aged men found that higher dietary intake of choline was linked to a lower risk of dementia and better memory & verbal abilities.
  • A mouse study found that offspring of those given high amounts of choline showed better memory. Both mother and offspring showed lower levels of inflammation in the hippocampus.

Dietary choline linked to reduced dementia risk & better cognition

Data from a large, long-running Finnish study, involving some 2,500 men aged 42-60, has found that dietary intake of phosphatidylcholine was associated with a reduced risk of dementia (the risk was 28% lower in men with the highest intake compared to the lowest). Men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine also excelled in tests measuring their memory and linguistic abilities.

The key sources of phosphatidylcholine in the study population's diet were eggs (39%) and meat (37%).

Choline is necessary for the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Earlier studies have linked choline intake with cognitive processing, and adequate choline intake may play a role in the prevention of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease.

There was no interaction with the APOE4 gene.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-08/uoef-dca080619.php

Choline helps fight Alzheimer's across generations

A study using genetically engineered mice found that when they were given high choline in their diet, their offspring showed improved in spatial memory.

Study of the hippocampus found the choline had reduced microglial activation, and thus brain inflammation, and reduced levels of homocysteine by converting it into the more helpful chemical methionine. These effects, achieved through gene modification, passed on to the next generation.

It has long been recognized that choline is particularly important in early brain development.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/asu-enm010719.php

Reference: 

Ylilauri, Maija P.T. et al. 2019. Associations of dietary choline intake with risk of incident dementia and with cognitive performance: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published online July 30, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz148

[4504] Velazquez, R., Ferreira E., Winslow W., Dave N., Piras I. S., Naymik M., et al.
(2019).  Maternal choline supplementation ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease pathology by reducing brain homocysteine levels across multiple generations.
Molecular Psychiatry. 1 - 10.

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Dietary guidelines for choline may be insufficient

A study involving healthy men and women fed a baseline diet containing 550 mg choline/day (the adequate intake level set by the Institute of Medicine) for 10 days, then put on a low choline diet (50 mg choline/day) for up to 42 days, has found that the "right" amount of choline depends on many factors, including gender, age, and ethnicity.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-03/foas-osd032714.php

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Nutrient cocktail for early Alzheimer's passes second trial

September, 2012
  • A second controlled trial of the nutrient cocktail Souvenaid has confirmed its cognitive benefits for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Two years ago, I reported on a clinical trial of a nutrient cocktail called Souvenaid for those with early Alzheimer’s. The three-month trial, involving 225 patients, had some success in improving verbal recall, with those with the mildest level of impairment benefiting the most.

The ‘cocktail’, designed by a MIT professor of brain and cognitive science, includes choline, uridine and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Earlier research indicated that these nutrients — precursors to the lipid molecules that help make up neural membranes — need to be administered together to be effective. In animal studies, the cocktail increased the number of dendritic spines, which are reduced in Alzheimer’s disease.

A further trial of the supplement has now been reported on. This randomized, controlled double-blind study followed 259 patients with early Alzheimer’s for six months. The placebo group was given an iso-caloric control product. Compliance was high (around 97%), and no serious side effects occurred.

During the first three months, all patients improved their verbal memory performance, but after that those on placebo began to deteriorate, while those on Souvenaid continued to improve. Their performance at the end of the trial was significantly better than that of the placebo group. Moreover, brain scans showed that their brains began to show more normal activity patterns, consistent with the regaining of greater synaptic function.

Because the supplement only seems to be effective for those in the early stages (in this study, participants averaged around 25 on a scale of dementia that ranges from 1 to 30, with 30 being normal), a two-year trial is now underway with patients with MCI.

Reference: 

Scheltens, P. et al. 2012. Efficacy of Souvenaid in Mild Alzheimer’s Disease: Results from a Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 31 (1), 225-36.

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Nutritional drink may help fight Alzheimer's

January, 2010
  • A clinical trial has found improvement in verbal (but not general) memory in patients with mild Alzheimer's who drank a nutritional cocktail for 12 weeks.

A European trial involving 225 patients with mild Alzheimer's has found that those who drank Souvenaid (a cocktail of uridine, choline and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, plus B vitamins, phosopholipids and antioxidants) for 12 weeks were more likely to improve their performance in a delayed verbal recall task. 40% of the Souvenaid group showed improved performance compared to 24% of the placebo group. Those with the mildest cases of Alzheimer’s showed the most improvement. There was no improvement on the more general ADAS-cog test. Three further clinical trials, one in the U.S. and two in Europe, are now underway.

Reference: 

Scheltens, P. et al. 2010. Efficacy of a medical food in mild Alzheimer's disease: A randomized, controlled trial. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 6 (1), 1-10.

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Vital role in brain development for the nutrient choline

March, 2004

The nutrient choline is known to play a critical role in memory and brain function by positively affecting the brain's physical development through increased production of stem cells (the parents of brain cells). New research demonstrates that this occurs through the effect of choline on the expression of particular genes. The important finding is that diet during pregnancy turns on or turns off division of stem cells that form the memory areas of the brain. Developing babies get choline from their mothers during pregnancy and from breast milk after they are born. Other foods rich in choline include eggs, meat, peanuts and dietary supplements. Breast milk contains much more of this nutrient than many infant formulas. Choline is a vitamin-like substance that is sometimes treated like B vitamins and folic acid in dietary recommendations.A choline food database is available at: www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp.

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Dietary supplements offer new hope for Alzheimer's patients

April, 2006

A "cocktail" of dietary supplements (omega-3 fatty acids, uridine and choline) has been found to dramatically increase the amount of membranes that form brain cell synapses in gerbils. The treatment is now in human clinical trials. It is hoped that such treatment may significantly delay Alzheimer's disease. The treatment offers a different approach from the traditional tactic of targeting amyloid plaques and tangles. Choline can be found in meats, nuts and eggs, and omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Uridine, which is found in RNA and produced by the liver and kidney, is not obtained from the diet, although it is found in human breast milk.

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'Cocktail' for improved memory

January, 2008

A study has found that gerbils given a ‘cocktail’ of DHA, uridine and choline performed significantly better on learning and memory tests than untreated gerbils, and their brains had up to 70% more phosphatides (a type of molecule that forms cell membranes) than controls, suggesting that new synapses are forming. Some of the gerbils received all three compounds and some received only two; the improvements were greatest in those given all three. An earlier study had found that the treatment improved function in rats with cognitive impairment. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Choline is found in meats, nuts and eggs. Uridine cannot be obtained from food sources, but is a component of human breast milk and can be produced in the body.

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Link between maternal diet and brain development of fetus

January, 2010
  • A mouse study has found that choline in the diet of a pregnant mother at a particular period of fetal development can change the epigenetic switches that control brain development.

A mouse study has found that the diet of a pregnant mother, especially in regards to choline, can change the epigenetic switches that control brain development in the fetus. Pregnant mice received different diets during the period when a fetus develops its hippocampus. The genetic changes affected neurogenesis. The findings add to other research pointing to the effects of maternal diet on fetal development. Top sources of choline are eggs and meat. Fish and soy are also good sources.

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