Choline and Alzheimer’s

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cholineEarlier this year researchers from Arizona State University set out to investigate the effects of #choline on #Alzheimer’s disease (#AD). Their study focused on mice bred to display AD symptoms who were given high doses of choline in their diets. As a result of the supplementation their offspring showed improvements in spatial memory compared to those who received a normal amount of choline in the womb.  The benefits of the extra supplementation proved to be transgenerational, protecting not just the mice taking the supplement through gestation and lactation but also their future offspring. As a result of this study the same scientists began new research focusing just on female mice to see whether supplementing throughout life would reduce AD pathology and even rescue memory deficits of mice already bred to contain AD transgenes.


The mice were exposed to either a control choline or a supplemented choline diet from 2.5 to 10 months of age and assessed for spatial memory, via a maze, followed by neuropathological evaluation. Those mice given the lifelong choline supplementation had improved spatial memory and significantly reduced #amyloid beta plaque deposits, the markers of AD in the brain. There is a vast number of people affected by AD and this is projected to rise over the coming decades, as a result, the lack of effective treatments for the disease is alarming. Choline is a safe and easy to use nutrient found naturally in some foods, meat and eggs providing the highest doses, and can also be used as a supplement. We have previously highlighted the concern over a lack of choline being found in #plant-based diets, could this then mean that #vegans are at risk of choline deficiency induced changes to brain function? *


The current recommended daily intake (#RDI) for choline (425mg/day for women and 550mg/day for men) may not be optimal for a healthy ageing process, especially for women, which is particularly relevant given the higher incidence of AD in the female population. The tolerable upper limit (#TUL), the dose unlikely to cause side effects, for choline is 3500mg/day, eight times higher than the RDA. The dose used in this study was only 4.5 times the RDA, well below the TUL, making it a safe strategy. With current studies only having been carried out on mice it is vital that more clinical trials are conducted, but choline must now be seen as an attractive candidate for the prevention of AD.


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