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Choline: Fighting with Dietitians. How Times Have Changed!

Lecithin & Choline

Fighting Over Choline!

Don Goldberg, R.Ph.

I still remember, many years ago, when I first began using Compuserve, being attacked viciously by a dietitian because I had the nerve to post a message asking if anyone knew the amount of choline in certain foods.

This took place on a forum that claimed to include nutrition and foods as its primary topic. It was sponsored by one of the popular magazines--perhaps Better Home and Gardens. I do not recall exactly. And the SYSOP (System Operator) seemed almost pleased when this dietitian berated me for asking a question about a nutrient that I had no real business being concerned with.

"Why should I care?" this person demanded. "There is no need for me to worry about the quantity of choline, let alone the need for supplementation!"

I, of course, proceeded to offer many valid reasons for my interest, but the dietition was not interested in hearing about it.

I even offered some current, mainstream references to support my contention that choline was indeed a nutrient that deserved attention. I urged the arrogent, hostile dietitian to consult the book "Nutritional Pharmacology," Gene A. Spiller, Ph.D., editor, Volume 4 in the series: "Current Topics in Nutrition and Disease" published by Alan R. Liss, Inc. 1981. This mainstream text contained a full chapteron choline ("Lecithin, Choline, and Cholinergic Transmission")

Needless to say, nothing I said had any effect. But that was many years ago, and thing have changed. I went on the become a section leader in another forum on Compuserve dealing with nutrition, and am now an assistant sysop on The Natural Medicine Forum. The hosting of a forum of this type on Compuserve would not have even been considered back at the time I was being ridiculed for asking about choline. The medical profession is begining to appreciate the importance of nutrients such as choline, and certainly the general public is. Maybe, soon, even the Dietitians will!

With this in mind, you will understand why the following article by Dr. David Canty caught my attention.

Lecithin and Choline Redeemed

by David Canty, Ph.D.

Lecithin and choline have been elevated to the status of essential nutrients, and the Food and Nutrition Board is considering recommending dietary intakes. Surprising? Yes, considering that only 10 years ago nutritionists called lecithin and choline "health food Supplements" with no clear nutritional purpose. This was because itwas believed that people made adequate amounts of them in their own bodies, and no diseases could be attributed to their deficiencies.

Today, health and nutrition experts recognize that nutrients do -more than prevent deficiency diseases like scurvy; they also reduce the risk of chronic disease and optimize health. In the last decade, research has found that choline and its primary source in the diet, lecithin, play important roles in cardiovascular and liver health as well as reproduction and development. Choline may even help improve memory and physical perforniance.

Lecithin is a special type of fat called a phospholipid; its chemical name is phosphatidylcholine. About 13 percent by weight of the lecithin molecule is choline. Most choline in the diet is derived from lecithin. Some foods, contain it in the free form or as a component of other phospholipids, such as sphingornyelin, which is attracting the at

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