Choline is Getting Its Day in the Clinic


Choline is an important and essential nutrient for human health, playing a key role in brain development, and liver and muscle function. A recent national diet survey by the US Centers of Disease Control reported that 90% of adults in the US do not achieve the recommended intake for choline. The problem is that doctors do not have a practical way to determine a person’s choline nutritional status. 

To change that, Steven Zeisel, MD, PhD, director of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute in Kannapolis on the NC Research Campus, will apply a $2.6 million federal grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), one of the National Institutes of Health, to develop a laboratory test that can assess a person’s choline level.

Dr. Zeisel explained, “We need a better lab test that health professionals can use to assess a person’s choline status given the narrow range for healthy intake of choline, the three-fold variation in dietary intake in the US, and the effects of common genetic variants on requirements for choline. With the recent establishment by the Food and Drug Administration of a Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of choline, awareness of this critical nutrient is growing and health professionals will need diagnostic tools to help consumers make good choices for health.”

Foods that contain high levels of choline include many beans, chickpeas, eggs and salmon.

Learn more about this grant and Dr. Zeisel.

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