What Are the Benefits of Choline Bitartrate?

by M. Gideon Hoyle

About M. Gideon Hoyle

M. Gideon Hoyle is a writer living outside of Houston. Previously, he produced brochures and a wide variety of other materials for a nonprofit educational foundation. He now specializes in topics related to health, exercise and nutrition, publishing for various websites.

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Choline bitartrate is a supplemental form of the nutrient choline. Your body needs choline for a variety of vital functions, including the transmission of signals in your nervous system and maintenance of the structures of your cell walls. However, apart from treatment of choline deficiencies, there is no clear evidence that you will benefit from choline bitartrate or any other supplemental choline product.

Choline Basics

A form of choline called phosphatidylcholine is found in a variety of foods, including eggs, beef liver, peanuts, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute. Phosphatidylcholine is also known as lecithin. Government sources do not currently calculate the amount of choline in our diets, but most adults probably get between 730 and 1,040 mg of the nutrient per day. This estimate does not include additional amounts of lecithin used in various food processing techniques.

Choline Bitartrate

Choline bitartrate is made by combining choline with a specific form of salt, the Linus Pauling Institute reports. You can also purchase choline supplements labeled as choline chloride, which contain a different salt. In addition, you can purchase supplements that contain phosphatidylcholine. Be aware that phosphatidylcholine supplements labeled as lecithin may actually contain as little as 20 percent of the nutrient or as much as 90 percent. You may receive choline supplements in forms that include powders, tablets and capsules.

Minimum Choline Intake

Adult men need a minimum of 550 mg of choline each day and adult women need a minimum of 425 mg according to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. Minimum intakes for children depend on both age and body size. Choline deficiencies only rarely occur, Brigham & Women’s Hospital reports. For this reason, choline supplements are not widely used. While you may receive choline bitartrate or another form of the nutrient to address a deficiency, there are no well-established uses for supplementation in individuals who do not have low choline levels.

Proposed Uses

Choline bitartrate and other choline supplements have been proposed as a treatment for a number of medical conditions, Brigham & Women’s Hospital explains, including Tourette’s syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, liver scarring or cirrhosis, fatty liver, presenile dementia and Huntington’s chorea. You may also receive choline to enhance athletic performance, or to treat additional conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and mood swings. However, Brigham & Women’s notes, none of these uses are currently verified by controlled studies or other verifiable forms of scientific evidence.

Considerations

If you take 10 to 16 g or more of choline per day, you may develop a number of side effects, including increased sweating, vomiting and fish-like body odor, the Linus Pauling Institute notes. These effects stem in part from the excessive presence of a choline-related compound called trimethylamine. If you are a strict vegetarian, you may have an increased risk for the development of a choline deficiency. Because of specific risks, individuals with bipolar disorder should not use any choline products. Consult your doctor for further information.

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.