Choline: A Smart Vitamin

Choline is a nutrient that plays an essential role in memory and learning. It is categorized as a member of the B complex family.

It’s a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps the transmission of impulses between nerves.

The decline of acetylcholine that accompanies aging is believed to be one cause of cognitive dysfunction.

In fact, a class of drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease works by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. Choline is also used by the brain to build and maintain cell membranes.

Choline Improves Sleep and Concentration

While choline has a stimulating effect on cognitive function, it also helps improve sleep by strengthening the brain's stimulus barrier, which filters out noise and other interruptions.

This function also helps improve concentration during waking hours.

Choline Reduces Homocysteine Levels

Choline, like folic acid, reduces blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which, when elevated, is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Choline metabolizes to trimethylglycine (betaine), which helps the conversion of homocysteine to the amino acid methionine. In a study of 1,960 people, higher intakes of choline and betaine were associated with lower homocysteine levels.1

Pregnant and Breast Feeding Women Need Extra Choline

Pregnant and breast feeding women have a higher choline requirement than the rest of the population and should make an effort to consume extra amounts. Choline is especially important for the development of a fetus’ brain.

In an animal study, choline supplementation during gestation resulted in larger hippocampal neurons.2 The hippocampus is the area of the brain where memories are stored.

How to Get Choline Through your Diet

Although the body synthesizes a certain amount of choline, much of what it needs is obtained in the diet. Choline is found in eggs, chicken, fish, milk, and red meat.

Lecithin granules, commonly derived from soy, are an excellent source of choline that can be sprinkled on food or mixed in drinks.

Supplement with Choline

Choline is available in supplemental form as choline bitartrate, choline chloride, phosphatidylcholine, cytidine-5'-diphosphate choline, and as the drug L-alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (GPC).

Vitamin B5 is needed as a cofactor for the conversion of choline to acetylcholine. For optimal support it is best to take these two nutrients together.

Cytidine-5'-diphosphate choline (also known as CDP choline) is a form of choline that readily penetrates the blood brain barrier. CDP choline has been demonstrated to improve memory and learning in animals and to inhibit apoptosis (programmed cell death) during strokes.

In addition, CDP choline has also been shown to benefit Parkinson's disease, drug and alcohol addiction, and glaucoma.3

Can Choline Make you Smarter?

While choline is not a drug, it is often called a "smart drug", due to its ability to boost acetylcholine levels.

As such, it is used not only by aging men and women, but by college students or other young adults who wish to enhance their cognitive function. Whatever your age, choline can be a really smart addition to your supplement program.


  1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):905-11. 
  2. J Neurophysiol. 2004 Apr;91(4):1545-55. 
  3. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2006 Sep;28 Suppl B:1-56.


Karlene @ Teenage Drug Rehab Centers said...

The blog is having informative content. I can say people can adopt but not get addicted to the pills. Well shared.

Unknown said...

What form would be recommended for B5+choline supplementation and where should I get it/

Life Extension said...

Donald Stahl - B5 in the form of D-calcium pantothenate. Choline to support memory in the form of CDP- choline. Unfortunately, we can't mention specific brands/stores in our blog (for legal reasons); however call our advisor line or email them for brand information. The number is 1-800-226-2370. The email is

Caren said...

Hello there! I was very glad that iv'e read your article. It's really good to know more about like your story issues cause iv'e been searching a lots for website today and iv'e love to find-out more for my working website. Thank you for sharing your article, its really big help for me.

Life Extension said...

You're welcome, Caren! Thank you!

Unknown said...

what about prostate cancer and choline is there a conexion ?

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