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Saturday, February 5, 2011


I was reading about choline and thought this is a good break from the genes.
Choline is not exactly a vitamin but it is an essential nutrient. We can make a small amount of it but it must be eaten regularly. The Linus Pauling Institute has a terrific write up explaining choline and its functions. They state:
  The majority of the body's choline is found in specialized fat molecules known
 as phospholipids, the most common of which is called phosphatidylcholine or lecithin . (1)

I bolded the phosphatidylcholine for emphasis. Choline is a very important nutrient.

It is involved in these 5 ways:
  • Structural integrity of cell membranes
  • Cell signaling
  • Nerve impulse transmission
  • Lipid (fat) transport and metabolism
  • Major source of methyl groups

 Let's look at the structure of the cell membrane. Cell membranes are called a bilayer because they are formed from a double layer of fats and phosphate heads.
The green inside are the fats and the pink balls are the phosphate heads. Choline is essential in the formation of phospholipids ie cell membrane.  The liver alone has ~ 300,000 square feet of membrane.
That is more than 4 football fields!
A great article on Phosphatidyl choline that explains the membrane in more detail is on the BodyBio website.

The second major function is cell signalling. If you put cell signalling into google image, it will blow your mind. It is soooooo complex.  Here is a good picture of one type of cell signal. Notice it occurs next to the membrane.

Nerve Impulse Transmission is the neurotransmittors like acetylcholine. These are the chemical messangers that jump from one nerve to the next.

 Phosphatidylcholine is a required component of fat transportation and processing. Without adequate phosphatidylcholine, fat and cholesterol accumulate in the liver.
Choline is a major source of methyl group which is a carbon and 4 hydrogens. We will come back to this because it is very important in Down syndrome.
Needless to say. Choline is critical for good health and function. It is found in beef and eggs, for example.

 Food Serving Total Choline (mg)

Beef liver, pan fried 3 ounces* 355

Wheat germ, toasted 1 cup 172

Egg 1 large 126

Atlantic cod, cooked 3 ounces 71

Beef, trim cut, cooked 3 ounces 67

Brussel sprouts, cooked 1 cup 63

Broccoli, cooked 1 cup, chopped 62

Shrimp, canned 3 ounces 60

Salmon 3 ounces 56

Milk, skim 8 fl oz. 38

Peanut butter, smooth 2 tablespoons 20

Milk chocolate 1.5-ounce bar 20

*A three-ounce serving of meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards. (1)


1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for all these posts, Teresa! I ate 2 eggs a day during my pregnancy with Jett (11 mths, DS) joking that I was giving an embryo to my embryo... (Okay, so my husband thought it was funny.) I'm planning on having another baby soon and have been looking into the 5HTP and B12 for myself. This all helps me understand the relationships much better. Thanks for taking the time to put this together!