Choline is an essential nutrient with critical roles in several biological processes including neuronal development, cell signaling, nerve impulse transmission, and lipid transport and metabolism. The National Cancer Institute method was used to assess usual intakes of choline from foods according to data for participants enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2014 datasets and pregnant women in the 2005-2014 datasets. Suboptimal intakes of choline are present across many gender and life-stage subpopulations, as well as pregnant women in the U.S. Only 8.03 ± 0.56% of adults and 8.51 ± 2.89% pregnant women meet the AI for choline. Children 2-3 years were the most likely to meet their gender and life-stage specific AI, followed by children 4-8 years. Adults 19+ years who consume eggs were more likely to meet their gender and life-stage AI as compared to non-consumers (57.3 ± 1.45% and 2.43 ± 0.28%). Consumers of eggs had almost double the usual intake of choline as compared to non-consumers (525 ± 5.17 mg/d and 294 ± 1.98; p < 0.0001). Protein food (meat, poultry and seafood) consumption also increased usual choline intakes compared to non-consumers (345 ± 2.21 mg/day and 235 ± 8.81; p < 0.0001) to a lesser degree, but did not result in substantial increases in the percent of individuals meeting the AI. No subpopulation exceeded the UL for choline. This research illustrates that it is extremely difficult to achieve the AI for choline without consuming eggs or taking a dietary supplement.
Keywords: NHANES; adequate intake; choline; dietary reference intake; tolerable upper intake level; usual intake.