Choline, an essential nutrient produced by the liver in small quantities and found in foods such as eggs, broccoli, beans, meat, and poultry, plays a critical role in human health.
A recent study conducted by scientists at Arizona State University suggests that a deficiency in dietary choline might be a significant factor in Alzheimer’s disease.
It is estimated that over 90% of Americans fail to meet the recommended daily intake of choline. The study found that this deficiency could have severe repercussions on the heart, liver, and other organs.
More alarmingly, an inadequate choline level was also associated with significant changes in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
These changes include the development of amyloid plaques, which accumulate in the spaces between neurons, and tau tangles, which condense within neurons. Both are classic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Understanding the Impact of Choline Deficiency
The research team examined pathologies in standard mice deprived of dietary choline and choline-deficient transgenic mice, which already display symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
In both instances, a choline-deficient diet resulted in liver damage, heart enlargement, and neurological alterations typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
These include increased levels of plaque-forming amyloid-beta protein and disease-related changes in tau protein.
Furthermore, the team discovered that choline deficiency in mice causes significant weight gain, alterations in blood sugar metabolism related to conditions like diabetes, and deficits in motor skills.
For humans, choline deficiency can be a dual issue. Firstly, people often fail to meet the Institute of Medicine’s established daily choline intake from 1998.
Secondly, ample research suggests that these recommended daily intake levels are not optimal for brain-related functions.
A Call to Action
This research underscores a range of physical and neurological changes associated with choline deficiency, emphasizing the urgent need for a reevaluation of dietary guidelines to include adequate choline intake.
This study’s results could pave the way for a new understanding of the role diet plays in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted by Ramon Velazquez and his team and published in Aging Cell.
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