Plant-based diet may be associated with the risk of worsening an already low intake of an essential nutrient involved in brain health. The study published in the journal– BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount that is produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body, which is why you need to supplement your diet with the same.
Choline plays a crucial role in facilitating brain health, particularly during fetal development. It helps influence some part of the liver function too. Decreased choline intake may lead to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage.
As it turns out, some of the best primary sources of dietary choline are eggs, dairy products, fish and poultry. Very few amounts of choline can be found in nuts, beans and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
In 1998, recognising the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively. In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.
“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” said Dr Emma Derbyshire of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specialising in nutrition and biomedical science. She suggested that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs, and animal protein could affect choline intake.
“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she said. “If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she advised.