Choline: The New Essential Nutrient
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education
A beneficial but lesser-known nutrient making its way onto nutrition facts labels is choline, an essential nutrient associated with heart health, improved liver function, maternal and fetal health, child development, cognition, and sports performance. In the first update to the nutrition facts label in 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for manufacturers to voluntarily label choline, paving the way to help Americans look for and include this essential nutrient as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
In addition, for the first time, the FDA established a reference daily intake (RDI) for choline of 550 mg per day, which was the adequate intake (AI) amount set in 1998 by the Institute of Medicine—now the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Health, and Medicine Division. Despite choline’s recognized and well-established health benefits, almost 90% of Americans are not getting enough choline every day.
“Choline is perhaps one of the most underrated nutrients, yet a large body of evidence supports a range of benefits at all life stages, from maternal health and infant nutrition to healthy aging,” said Marie Caudill, PhD, RD and professor in nutritional sciences at Cornell University. “By using the Nutrition Facts label to check choline amounts in foods, Americans will soon be able to look for this essential nutrient and better meet their daily goals.”
Food sources of choline include eggs, beef, chicken, fish, certain seafood, toasted wheat germ, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Some multivitamins and prenatal vitamins contain choline and certain packaged foods, such as infant formula, may be fortified with choline to boost intake. Foods with at least 55 mg of choline per serving are considered a “good source” of the nutrient.
Excerpted from the Choline Information Council website: http://cholinecouncil.com/ latest_information/cholinelabel.
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