In this mouse study, mice were bred to display symptoms seen in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). High amounts of Choline were then added to some of the mice’s diet. The offspring of these mice showed improvements in spatial memory when compared to the mice not receiving the diet with high amounts of added Choline. This study indicated that the beneficial effects of Choline supplementation could be transgenerational since the mice receiving the high Choline supplementation in their diets during gestation and lactation were protected and their offspring were protected as well even though they never received any direct Choline supplementation. Researchers concluded the benefits of the supplementation given to the mice mothers benefited their offspring due to inherited gene modifications.
According to researchers Choline protects the brain from Alzheimer’s disease in 2 ways. First, Choline reduces homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that acts as a potent neurotoxin leading to the formation of amyloid plaques. It is known that high homocysteine levels may double the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and patients with AD have elevated homocysteine levels. Choline converts the harmful homocysteine into the helpful chemical methionine. Secondly, Choline supplementation reduces microglia activation. Microglia are cells responsible for clearing away debris in the brain. While their housekeeping role is important to brain health, once activated microglia can and do get out of control and become over activated which causes inflammation in the brain and leads to neuronal death. Choline supplementation offers further protection by reducing microlglia activation.
Choline is an essential nutrient occurring naturally in some foods. All plant and animal cells need Choline to maintain their structural integrity. Choline helps the body produce Acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter and is necessary for the nervous system, liver, muscle and brain functions like memory, mood, and muscle control. Choline also is important in gene expression regulation. Choline has been recognized for a long time as an important nutrient needed for early brain development. Only about 10% of all Americans and 8% of pregnant women get sufficient amounts of daily Choline.
Further studies using human subjects are planned for the future.
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