The US National Institute of Health estimates that 90% of the American population are choline-deficient  so why is the spotlight on those who follow a vegan diet? The British Medical Journal published concerns over the choline density within a vegan diet based on the nutritional profile of plant-based foods  however, if you follow a vegan diet, you will be happy to hear that the current body of conclusive evidence is limited.
What is the evidence for choline deficiency amongst Vegans?
The current absence of clinical and longitudinal study data on vegan cohorts represents a challenge. Popular veganism is a relatively new phenomenon and over 60% of all global studies conducted into the impact of a vegan diet have been commissioned in the last 6 years. The body of data is growing, and we will have more evidence in the future.
Can you test for choline deficiency?
Traditional test methods include blood tests and identifying biomarkers in urine samples    which are only indicative of a small snapshot in time and provide no insight into brain health. Novel testing techniques are in the pipeline but rather than focusing on choline deficiency perhaps the question should be "how can I obtain adequate intake levels of choline if I follow a strictly plant-based diet?"
Table 2: Recommended adequate intakes for Choline in the United States and the European Union  .
|European Union Daily Adequate Intakes (AI) for choline|
|7 -11 months||160|
|1 – 14 years||140 - 340|
United States Daily Adequate Intakes ( AI) for choline
|Birth to 6 months||125 mg/day||125 mg/day|
|7 – 12 months||150 mg/day||150 mg/day|
|1 – 3 years||200 mg/day||200 mg/day|
|4 – 8 years||250 mg/day||250 mg/day|
|9 – 13 years||375 mg/day||375 mg/day|
|14 – 18 years||550 mg/day||400 mg/day||450 mg/day||550 mg/day|
|19+ years||550 mg/day||425 mg/day||450 mg/day||550 mg/day|
The richest sources of choline are found in animal proteins such as beef, liver, eggs, and chicken  so in theory, this may make the practice of obtaining choline from a vegan diet more challenging.
Figure 1: A graph showing the comparison between the choline content in the top food sources of choline .
Obtaining choline from a vegan diet
The great news is if you follow a vegan diet you can obtain your daily adequate intake (AI) of choline from plant-based sources. You may just need to fight a little harder to integrate more choline-dense foods. To help; here are the top 10 plant-based food sources of choline:
Table 1: Top 10 plant-based food sources for choline 
|Plant-based food sources of choline|
|Food||Quantity||Choline per serving (mg)|
|Wheat germ, toasted||100g||182|
|Mushroom shiitake, cooked||100g||90|
|Brussel sprouts, chopped, boiled, drained||100g||75|
|Kidney beans (canned)||100g||69|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||100g||48|
|Cauliflower, pieces, boiled, drained||100g||37.5|
|Green peas, boiled||100g||37.5|
|Potatoes, red, baked, flesh and skin||100g||15|
Combining a mix of choline-rich sources into every meal will give you the best chance of obtaining your AI and a quinoa and bean salad, for example, will deliver 62mg of choline per serving. (you can find a simple recipe for a Mexican Quinoa salad at allrecipes.com)
Why should I be interested in obtaining dietary choline?
Choline is a precursor to a chemical messenger called acetylcholine which is responsible for your working memory, attention, and learning . A study on mild cognitive impairment showed that 71% of 2044 patients that consumed a daily dose of Alpha Glyceryl-Phosphoryl-Choline (Alpha GPC) corresponded to “no cognitive decline” or “forgetfulness” . Another study showed that increased levels of acetylcholine appeared to boost attention in sustained attention performance tasks . Choline may also support fetal cognitive development .
Not all forms of choline are equal
Food-derived choline and other forms of choline such as choline bitartrate require complex mechanisms of action in order to enter the brain which involves binding to transporter molecules . Alpha Glyceryl-Phosphoryl-Choline (Alpha GPC) and Citicoline can freely cross the blood-brain barrier in order to be converted into acetylcholine. The difference between these two forms is the amount of choline they carry. Alpha GPC is 40% choline by weight which is over double the amount contained in Citicoline (18.5%). If you're considering a vegan choline supplement brain feed’s 500mg Choline (alpha GPC) supplement is the world’s first 99% 500mg alpha GPC capsule .
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