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Choline: Are our University Students Eating Enough?



Choline is an essential nutrient; dietary deficiency of choline is associated with impaired liver function, elevated blood concentrations of alanine aminotransferase, creatinine phosphokinase and homocysteine. There is also depletion of acetylcholine concentration in the brain, leading to deficit in memory function. The authors examined the dietary intake of choline in groups of students at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. Sixty-two medical students (first and second years) and biochemistry students (final year) were recruited. They were asked to (including amounts) record all foods and drinks consumed for three days (two weekdays and one weekend day). The sheets were collected and the amount of choline and betaine (a metabolite of choline) consumed were calculated. Dietary intake of folate was also evaluated. The analysis revealed that 86.2% of the females and 90.9% of the males reported diets that delivered less daily choline than the adequate intake quoted by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (425–550 mg/day). The betaine consumption ranged between 25 to 620 mg/day (no adequate intake documented) and the folate consumed was more than the recommended daily allowance of folate (180–200 ug/day). The dietary intake of choline in the majority of students is below adequate intake. Although folate also serves similar functions to choline, it is unlikely that it can substitute for choline in all physiological aspects and therefore the implications of low dietary choline need further investigation.

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e-Published: 10 Jun, 2013
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