– [Narrator] Hey there. If you’re new to our
channel, you can subscribe by clicking the leaf icon
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like and comment below. Food can sometimes feel like a minefield, whatever diet you follow. It can be difficult to
make sure you’re getting all the essential nutrients,
vitamins, and minerals that you need to thrive. But with careful planning,
it can be possible to get your nutrition spot on. Take choline, for example. Never heard of it? You’re not alone, but this is a nutrient getting more attention for its benefits of brain development, liver
function, and metabolism. Are you getting enough
choline on a vegan diet? Let’s first look at what
choline actually is. The liver makes small amounts of choline. Predominantly, however,
we get it from our diet. It’s neither a vitamin nor a mineral. It’s closely related to
the vitamin B complex but it’s technically a
water-soluble compound. Choline helps with brain development, but it’s also important for
liver function and metabolism. It also helps maintain a
healthy nervous system. Not getting enough
choline could potentially lead to brain fog, muscle twitching, and difficulties in paying attention. Choline is deemed an essential nutrient, but research into it is limited. There still isn’t a recommended
daily intake for choline. This is due to a lack of
available information. However, the National Academy of Medicine which acknowledged choline
as a required nutrient back in 1998, has created a guide that set some dietary recommendations. The Institute notes
that breastfeeding women and adult men should consume the most, at 450 milligrams a day. Pregnant women should aim
to consume around the same, and non-pregnant adult women should look to consume 425 milligrams a day. For children and teenagers,
the recommended amount varies. Studies have shown that choline delivers a number of benefits,
especially when it comes to brain health. It can boost brain function
and improve memory. A 2012 Harvard Health
Letter says “in the brain, “choline speeds up the creation “and release of acetylcholine, “a protein that carries
signals among brain cells “and is important for memory “and assorted other brain functions.” It explains, “the brains of
people with Alzheimer’s disease “have lower levels of
acetylcholine than people “without the disease,
and the medications used “to treat the early
stages of it, Donezepil, “Galantamine, and
Rivastigmine under the names “Aricept, Reminyl, and
Exelon work by blocking “an enzyme, cholinesterase,
that dismantles acetylcholine.” One study conducted at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, revealed
that choline supplementation improved short and long-term verbal memory in adults aged 50 to 85. Researchers gave
participants 1,000 milligrams of cetacholine a day for three months. A crossover study gave
different participants 2,000 milligrams a day for two months. A study concluded that cetacholine therapy improved verbal memory
functioning in older individuals with relatively inefficient memories. It added, “cetacholine may prove effective “in treating age-related cognitive decline “that may be the precursor of dementia.” The Framingham Offspring
Study asked a group of participants to answer a questionnaire about the different foods that they ate. They then looked for
correlations between brain health and choline intake. Brain health was assessed
in a number of ways, including MRI scans and memory tests. According to the Harvard Health Letter, there were two findings from the study, those who included a lot
of choline in their diet were more likely to do well on the memory and cognitive ability test. MRI scans also showed that a
high consumption of choline in the past was associated
with healthier brain tissue. Harvard Health commented,
“this is just one study. “Proof will come only with more research, “and the Health Letter isn’t recommending “that you start taking
choline supplements. “Yet it’s not an isolated finding, either. “There’s a promising pattern
of suggested findings “that choline could at least be helpful “with keeping our cognitive
abilities intact.” Choline could also potentially
help with alertness. According to the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, low choline intake is associated with feelings of sleepiness. The nutrient may also
benefit those suffering from mental health conditions. While there is limited
research on this topic, a study conducted back in
1996 looked at the impact of choline therapy on bipolar patients. It found that the therapy
improved symptoms of mania. Consuming adequate amounts
of choline could also reduce the risk of breast
cancer, and the risk of neural tube defects in babies. Research into these areas is also limited. “It is possible to take too much choline,” says Harvard Health. It notes, “in large
amounts choline can cause “low blood pressure,
sweating, and too much saliva. “Excessive amounts can also
produce a fishy body odor “because choline gets
metabolized into trimethylamine, “a substance that smells like fish.” Is it necessary to supplement choline? Some nutritionists believe that people following a plant-based
diet should consider opting for supplements to
boost their intake of choline. Nutritionist Emma Derbyshire
said in a BMJ Journal paper if people are eating a plant-based diet, particularly if they are
women of childbearing age, they should look at supplements. Choline is often included
in prenatal vitamins, as it is important for
healthy fetal development. Not everyone believes that choline supplementation is necessary. Bahee Van De Bor, a
spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association,
disagrees with Derbyshire. She said, “you absolutely
can meet the requirements “with a vegan or plant-based
diet,” but you have to have a plan. Foods can be vegan but not provide the necessary nutrients. Heather Russell, a registered dietitian, says that choline requirements and intakes in different dietary groups
are poorly defined at present. She says “choline is widely distributed “in plant foods because it’s
present in cell membranes. “Soy products, quinoa,
and broccoli are some of “the best plant-based sources.” She added, “you do not need
to take a choline supplement “when you switch to totally
plant-based nutrition “if you eat a balanced and varied diet “containing plenty of minimally
processed plant foods. “The evidence base shows
that this way of eating can support excellent health.” – Figure out whether
you’re kind of hitting the targets that you want to be hitting or whether you need to make some tweaks to your diet. – [Instructor] Studies have
linked plant-based diets with reducing the risk of major diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The Physicians Committee
for Responsible Medicine, with more than 12,000 physician members, believed that a number
of chronic illnesses including diabetes can be either prevented or treated with a plant-based diet. A 2003 study by the organization shows that plant-based diets
can control blood sugar three times more
effectively than traditional diabetes diet plans, which limit
calories and carbohydrates. According to PCRM, after just a few weeks on a plant-based diet,
participants revealed dramatic health improvements. They experienced weight loss and their insulin sensitivity improved. Founder of PCRM Dr. Neal Barnard believes that the only
supplementation necessary on a vegan diet is vitamin B12. He writes in his book
The Vegan Starter Kit, “there are really only two rules: “one, build your meals
from plant-based foods, “especially vegetables, fruits,
whole grains, and legumes, “beans, peas, and lentils. “Number two, ensure complete nutrition “with a supplement of vitamin B12.” – Will I get enough protein? How about calcium? Do I need supplements? Well I’ve taken all of these questions and answered them really concisely in this thin little book
called The Vegan Starter Kit that you can share with your friends. – [Instructor] Vitamin B12 is
the most chemically complex of all vitamins, and it
is also one of the most essential for human health. It helps the body’s nerve
and blood cells stay healthy and it plays a role in
the creation of DNA, the genetic material found in all cells. B12 is found in a handful of
fortified plant-based foods, but there are plenty of vegan
supplements on the market. Unlike B12, choline is found
in a number of vegan foods. You may already including
them in your diet. Tofu and other soy-based products, including soy milk, contain choline. Cruciferous vegetables like
broccoli and Brussels sprouts are also good plant-based sources. If you’re a fan of peanut butter on toast, then you may be pleased
to hear that the spread is a good choline source. Two tablespoons of peanut
butter contain around 11 milligrams of choline. Almonds and walnuts are also sources, containing more than seven milligrams and more than three
milligrams, respectively. Pinto beans and mushrooms
also contain choline, as does quinoa, the popular
South American grain. So if you follow a plant-based
diet, you can choose to supplement, but there
are plenty of vegan foods that contain choline, and
they’re pretty darn tasty, too. What do you think? Do you supplement for choline? What are your favorite food sources? Let us know in the comments below. (calm music) Remember to like, subscribe, and hit the notification bell. New videos every Tuesday and Friday.