Dietary choline and betaine intakes vary in an adult multiethnic population

J Nutr. 2013 Jun;143(6):894-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.171132. Epub 2013 Apr 24.


Choline and betaine are important nutrients for human health, but reference food composition databases for these nutrients became available only recently. We tested the feasibility of using these databases to estimate dietary choline and betaine intakes among ethnically diverse adults who participated in the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) Study. Of the food items (n = 965) used to quantify intakes for the MEC FFQ, 189 items were exactly matched with items in the USDA Database for the Choline Content of Common Foods for total choline, choline-containing compounds, and betaine, and 547 items were matched to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference for total choline (n = 547) and 148 for betaine. When a match was not found, choline and betaine values were imputed based on the same food with a different form (124 food items for choline, 300 for choline compounds, 236 for betaine), a similar food (n = 98, 284, and 227, respectively) or the closest item in the same food category (n = 6, 191, and 157, respectively), or the values were assumed to be zero (n = 1, 1, and 8, respectively). The resulting mean intake estimates for choline and betaine among 188,147 MEC participants (aged 45-75) varied by sex (372 and 154 mg/d in men, 304 and 128 mg/d in women, respectively; P-heterogeneity < 0.0001) and by race/ethnicity among Caucasians, African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, and Native Hawaiians (P-heterogeneity < 0.0001), largely due to the variation in energy intake. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of assessing choline and betaine intake and characterize the variation in intake that exists in a multiethnic population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Asian Americans
  • Betaine / administration & dosage*
  • Choline / administration & dosage*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Edible Grain
  • Energy Intake
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Hawaii
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Vegetables


  • Betaine
  • Choline