Choline supplementation and measures of choline and betaine status: a randomised, controlled trial in postmenopausal women

Br J Nutr. 2012 Oct;108(7):1264-71. doi: 10.1017/S000711451100674X. Epub 2011 Dec 15.


Choline is an essential nutrient and can also be obtained by de novo synthesis via an oestrogen responsive pathway. Choline can be oxidised to the methyl donor betaine, with short-term supplementation reported to lower plasma total homocysteine (tHcy); however, the effects of longer-term choline supplementation are less clear. We investigated the effect of choline supplementation on plasma concentrations of free choline, betaine and tHcy and B-vitamin status in postmenopausal women, a group more susceptible to low choline status. We also assessed whether supplementation altered plasma lipid profiles. In this randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, forty-two healthy postmenopausal women received 1 g choline per d (as choline bitartrate), or an identical placebo supplement with their habitual diet. Fasting blood samples were collected at baseline, week 6 and week 12. Administration of choline increased median choline and betaine concentrations in plasma, with significant effects evident after 6 weeks of supplementation (P<0·001) and remaining significant at 12 weeks (P<0·001); no effect was observed on folate status or on plasma lipids. Choline supplementation induced a median (25th, 75th percentile) change in plasma tHcy concentration at week 6 of -0·9 (-1·6, 0·2) μmol, a change which, when compared to that observed in the placebo group 0·6 (-0·4, 1·9) μmol, approached statistical significance (P=0·058). Choline supplementation at a dose of 1 g/d significantly increases the circulating concentration of free choline, and can also significantly increase the concentration of the methyl donor, betaine, thereby potentially enhancing the betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase-mediated remethylation of tHcy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Betaine / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Choline / adverse effects
  • Choline / blood
  • Choline / therapeutic use*
  • Choline Deficiency / blood
  • Choline Deficiency / diet therapy*
  • Choline Deficiency / physiopathology
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / etiology
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / prevention & control
  • Lipids / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Northern Ireland
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Postmenopause


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipids
  • Homocysteine
  • Betaine
  • Folic Acid
  • Choline

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN82708510