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February 14, 2021
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Are we getting enough choline in our diet?

Choline is an essential nutrient and people get some choline from internal production in the liver and get the rest from their diet. Most men and postmenopausal women, and about 45% of pre-menopausal women cannot internally produce enough choline to meet their needs and must eat some choline in foods daily. While the US Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) established a recommended Adequate Intake (AI) in 1998 and the European Food Safety Authority established similar recommendations in 2016, dietary intake of choline for most people falls well below these recommendations.

Data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicates that over 90% of adult Americans eat less than the recommended intake of choline, with roughly a quarter of the US adult population consuming <50% of the recommended intake. In addition, we know that common genetic differences can increase dietary requirements for choline.

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Who Wrote This X Fact
Steven H. Zeisel MD PhD
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Dr. Zeisel is the Kenan Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Zeisel earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1975, was a resident in pediatrics at Yale University from 1975–1977 and earned his PhD in nutrition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. Dr. Zeisel is the Director of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute and Director of the UNC Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (one of 12 centers of excellence funded by the US NIH), North Carolina. Dr. Zeisel and his research team focus on the essential nutrient choline which is especially important during pregnancy and lactation, as choline is critical for brain and eye development. Dr. Zeisel has authored more than 380 scientific publications.


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