12 Foods High in Choline

Jul 11, 2022 , Pregnancy Tips

12 Foods High in Choline

Quick Health Scoop

  • Choline is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in brain health, nervous system function, and overall health.
  • The best source of this essential nutrient is dietary Choline, including both animal- and plant-based foods.
  • Foods high in Choline include beef liver, chicken liver, salmon, and eggs, while other foods with Choline include kidney beans, yogurt, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Most Americans, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, don’t get enough Choline through the food they eat.

You might not realize it, but as recently as 1998, the Institute of Medicine officially acknowledged Choline as an essential nutrient. [1] While Choline is not technically a vitamin or a mineral, this vital nutrient is involved in many biological processes and plays an important role in brain health, nervous system function, and overall well-being. [2] For example, Choline supports the healthy functioning of your brain and nervous system to help regulate mood, memory, and muscle control (as part of acetylcholine), and Choline helps provide the structure for cell membranes (as phosphatidylcholine). [3] This is especially important for pregnant women who want to support a healthy growth and development of their baby’s brain and nervous system.

The good news (and the bad news)? Your body can produce Choline in the liver but only in small amounts and not enough to maintain healthy growth. [3] To get enough Choline every day, it’s important to get what you need through dietary Choline in the food you eat or, if needed, through a Choline supplement.

But how much Choline do you need? And what are foods high in Choline?

Read on to learn more about the top foods high in Choline to make sure you're getting enough in your diet.

What Is The Best Source Of Choline?

 Just as with all nutrients, the best way to get Choline is from food sources. That’s why it’s important to eat foods with Choline as part of a balanced, healthy diet. Fortunately, a wide variety of both animal- and plant-based food sources contain this key nutrient. In general, animal-based foods typically contain higher amounts of Choline than certain plant-based foods. [4] However, some of the most Choline-rich foods on the list below also contain higher amounts of saturated fat, so choose wisely and eat a variety of foods.

What Foods Are High In Choline?

If you want to increase your Choline intake, consider adding these Choline-rich foods to your diet. [4,5]

  1. Beef liver, pan-fried, 3 ounces (356 mg)
  2. Chicken liver, 3 ounces (247 mg)
  3. Salmon, 3 ounces (187 mg)
  4. Egg, hard boiled, including yolk (147 mg)
  5. Beef top round, separable lean only, braised, 3 ounces (117 mg)
  6. Soybeans, roasted, ½ cup (107 mg)
  7. Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces (72 mg)
  8. Beef, ground, 93% lean meat, broiled, 3 ounces (72 mg)
  9. Fish, cod, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces (71 mg)
  10. Shiitake mushrooms, ½ cup (58 mg)
  11. Potato, large, red, baked, flesh and skin, (57 mg)
  12. Wheat germ, toasted, 1 ounce (51 mg)

Although several Choline-rich foods (such as egg yolks and red meat) tend to be higher in saturated fat, you can also find Choline in foods lower in saturated fat such as legumes, chicken breast, cod, salmon, and tilapia. [6] And, don’t overlook certain plant foods (such as cruciferous vegetables and beans) as good sources of Choline—they contribute roughly 10% of the total Choline you need every day. [4]

You probably noticed that the top two spots on the list above are organ meats. What if you’re like many people who don’t eat liver? You’ve still got plenty of options for dietary Choline that are not organ meat. While the following foods don’t contain as much Choline as the top-12 foods listed above, they still contain some choline: [4,5]

  • Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup (45 mg)
  • Quinoa, cooked, 1 cup (43 mg)
  • Milk, 1% fat, 1 cup (43 mg)
  • Yogurt, vanilla, nonfat, 1 cup (38 mg)
  • Brussels sprouts, boiled, ½ cup (32 mg)
  • Broccoli, chopped, boiled, drained, ½ cup (31 mg)
  • Cottage cheese, nonfat, 1 cup (26 mg)
  • Fish, tuna, white, canned in water, drained in solids, 3 ounces (25 mg)

Are US Adults Getting Enough Choline?

About 9 in 10 US adults do not meet recommended intakes for choline. [7] Even though Choline is naturally found in a variety of foods, many people still aren’t eating enough foods with Choline to ensure optimal health.

Plus, certain groups of people face a higher likelihood of not getting enough choline through their diet, including pregnant and lactating women, vegans, vegetarians, and people with certain genetic conditions. [3, 7,8] Although Choline plays a vital role in a baby’s healthy growth and development, an estimated 90–95 percent of pregnant women consume less Choline than the recommended adequate intake. [9]

While many prenatal dietary supplements don’t contain Choline, several of Nature Made’s prenatal multivitamins do, including Prenatal Gummies With 58 Mg DHA and Postnatal Multivitamin + 200 Mg DHA softgels. That’s a great way to help pregnant women meet their daily value of total Choline.

What's The Recommended Adequate Intake Of Choline?

While the amount of Choline you need varies depending on several factors (such as your age, sex, and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding), everyone needs to consume adequate Choline on a daily basis for optimum health. In 1998, the Food and Nutrition Board established a dietary reference intake (DRI) for Choline. They felt there was insufficient evidence to calculate a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for choline, so they set an Adequate Intake: [10]  

  • Birth to 6 months: 125 mg
  • Babies (7-12 months): 150 mg
  • Children (ages 1-3 years): 200 mg
  • Children (ages 4–8): 250 mg
  • Children (ages 9–13): 375 mg
  • Adolescent boys (ages 14-18): 550 mg
  • Adolescent girls (ages 14-18): 400 mg
  • Men (ages 19+): 550 mg
  • Women (ages 19+) 425 mg
  • Pregnant teens and women 450 mg
  • Breastfeeding teens and women 550 mg

Bottom Line

As a key nutrient that is involved in many physiological processes, Choline plays a vital role in brain health, nervous system functioning, and overall health, The best source of this essential nutrient is dietary Choline. Foods high in Choline include beef liver, chicken liver, salmon, and eggs. However, a variety of other animal- and plant-based foods contain Choline, such as chicken breasts, soybeans, milk, shiitake mushrooms, and broccoli. Most Americans don’t get enough Choline through the food they eat. And pregnant and breastfeeding women, among other groups of people, face an increased risk of not meeting the recommended amounts through their diet alone.

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


References 

  1. Nutrient Review. “ Choline: An Essential nutrient for Public Health.” November 25, 2009. Accessed on: June 7, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2782876/
  2. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute. “Choline.” February 2015. Accessed on: June 8, 2022. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/Choline
  3. National Institutes of Health. “Consumer Fact Sheet: Choline.” June 2, 2022. Accessed on: June 8, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-Consumer/
  4. Nutrition Today. “Choline.” November-December 2018. Accessed on: June 10, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6259877/
  5. National Institutes of Health. “Health Professional Fact Sheet: Choline.” June 2, 2022. Accessed on: June 10, 2022. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/#en17
  6. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Choline.” 2022. Accessed on: June 8, 2022. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/Choline/
  7. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. “Nutritional Importance of Choline for Brain Development.” June 18, 2013. Accessed on: June 7, 2022. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2004.10719433
  8. Cleveland Clinic. “Choline supplement.” December 14, 2021. Accessed on: June 8, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/22202-Choline-supplement
  9. Public Health Nutrition. “Racial/ethnic and sociodemographic factors associated with micronutrient intakes and inadequacies among pregnant women in an urban US population.” September 2014. Accessed on: June 10, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24476840/
  10. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Choline. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 1998:390-422.

Authors

Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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Sandra Zagorin, MS, RD

Science and Health Educator

As a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Sandra educates healthcare professionals and consumers on nutrition, supplements, and related health concerns. Prior to joining Pharmavite, Sandra worked as a clinical dietitian at University of Chicago Medicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, with minors in Spanish and Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from RUSH University in Chicago, IL. As part of her Master’s program, Sandra performed research on physical activity participation and correlates in urban Hispanic women.

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