One Food, Many Problems Part II

eggs In Part I of this article, I talked about how my baby was having some skin and digestive issues that all but went away when I stopped eating eggs.  All was well . . . with her.  As for me, I completely fell apart.  My brain stopped working.  I was tired, unmotivated, couldn’t concentrate on anything lasting longer than five seconds, I had completely flat affect, and I couldn’t remember anything.

I’m not exaggerating.  It was horrible and started the day I stopped eating my morning eggs.

I told my husband about how I was feeling – or not feeling – and he (not suprisingly) had an idea what it was. The next day he went to work and came back with a small canister of lecithin granules.

I figured they were going to be super gross but in the name of science (and feeling better), I went for it. Down the hatch.

And then the magic happened.

No exaggeration, 20 minutes later my brain woke back up.  I know, it doesn’t sound possible, but I assure you I was back to my old self.  I couldn't believe it.

"Um, so I'm not kidding but, I'm feeling better."

"Oh, good", he said.

"So why did it work?"

That’s when he started to tell me about choline.  And after doing a little bit of research on it myself, I couldn’t believe what I was reading, especially about choline deficiency and women!

So what is choline and why do you need it?  Read on.

Choline (pronounced co-lean)is technically part of the B-vitamin family, but isn’t often found in a B-vitamin supplement and if it is, it isn’t in an amount that you’d be looking for.

Choline was originally discovered over a hundred years ago and in the early 1900’s was recognized as an important nutrient because just about any animal that had a choline deficient diet developed fatty liver, which interestingly is somewhat of an epidemic in our society today.  Fatty liver is just what it sounds like – a liver full of fat.  This can lead to liver dysfunction, inflammation and eventually cirrhosis.

But choline does so much more than that.

Without getting to sciency, choline helps keep our cells (all 100 trillion of them) healthy.  More specifically it keeps them plump and hydrated, the membranes functioning properly, and allowing them to talk to one another more efficiently.

Choline is also a critical component of bile synthesis, which is something our livers make to help us digest and absorb fats.  (If you cannot tolerate fatty foods because it gives you pain, discomfort and possibly a quick trip to the restroom, you may have an issue making or secreting bile.)

But none of these were my problem.  My brain wasn’t working.

Choline is also a precursor for a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.  This brain chemical is absolutely associated with learning, memory, concentration, focus, and cognition – everything I was completely lacking for those four days.

[For those of you thinking about having a baby, consider adding a little extra choline.  There are rodent studies showing that – get this – choline intake by mom when pregnant leads to significant improvements in memory and attention when the baby rats are adults! Could this help prevent Alzheimer’s in our kids before they are born?  Talk about preventative medicine.]

Are you deficient in choline?  If you are a woman then statistically speaking, yes.  We are supposed to be getting approximately 450mg of choline a day, and the mean intake of choline for women is only 260mg a day.  And this is assuming the typically conservative government recommendations is even optimal in the first place.

So where can you get some extra choline in your diet?  Oddly, there’s not a lot of information about choline in food, but here are a few examples and how much you’d have to eat daily to reach that 450mg mark:

Food Choline content How much to eat Comments
Liver 100mg per ounce 4.5 ounces Um, no.
Wheat germ 172mg per cup 2.5 cups Again, no thanks.
Egg 125mg per large egg About 4 eggs Doable, but not by me right now.
Beef 22mg per ounce 20 ounces A twenty ounce steak?!
Brussels sprouts 63mg per cup 7 cups C'mon. 7 cups?

 

I think you get the point as to why we are so deficient in choline.  What's the alternative?  One of them is to take supplemental lecithin.  A measly two tablespoons of the granules gives you the 450mg of choline you’re looking for and any extra you get in your diet will just be an added bonus.

Do you have any nagging symptoms or weird experience with food? I'd love to read about it! Leave a comment & follow me on FB - I'd love to figure out what's happening with you & feature your story in an upcoming post.