Ad libitum choline intake in healthy individuals meets or exceeds the proposed adequate intake level

J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):826-9. doi: 10.1093/jn/135.4.826.


Choline is an essential nutrient for humans that is used to synthesize membrane phospholipids and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Betaine, a metabolite of choline, functions as a methyl-group donor in the conversion of homocysteine to methionine, and is important for renal function. Accurate analysis of choline intake was previously not possible because the choline content of most foods was not known. Using new and recently published data on the concentrations of choline in common foods, we measured the choline content of diets consumed ad libitum by healthy adult volunteers housed in a clinical research center and compared these with estimates of choline intake derived from 3-d food records kept by subjects immediately before study enrollment. Mean choline intake in this subject population met or slightly exceeded the current Adequate Intake (AI) of 7 mg/(kg . d) set by the Institute of Medicine. Men and women consumed similar amounts of choline per day (8.4 and. 6.7 mg/kg, respectively; P = 0.11). Choline intakes estimated from the 3-d food records were significantly lower than this (when expressed as mg/kg, or as total mg, but not when normalized to energy intake), suggesting underreporting of food intake. Intake of betaine, which may spare choline utilization as a methyl-group donor, was 5.3 mg/(kg . d) in men and 4.7 mg/(kg . d) in women. Intake of folate, vitamin B-12, and methionine + cysteine, were similar and sufficient in all subjects. The current recommended AI for choline seems to be a good approximation of the actual intake of this nutrient.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight
  • Choline / pharmacokinetics*
  • Energy Intake
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Choline