November 27, 2003
Choline May Restore Middle Aged Memory Formation

MIT professor Richard Wurtman and post-doc Lisa Teather choline in the form of cytidine (5')-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline) improved learning in rats after 2 months of supplementation.

Among rats not getting CDP-choline, the older animals seemed to forget much of the previous day's learning, Teather says, while the young ones didn't. By the end of 4 days of testing, she notes, the difference between these groups "was really huge," suggesting that the older ones had trouble forming long-term memories. However, she notes, among CDP-choline–supplemented rats, middle-aged animals "mastered the [maze learning] as readily as the young animals did." Her group is now in the process of evaluating the impact of CDP-choline on memory development in the rodent equivalent of senior citizens.

No quick fix

"The interesting thing," observes Teather, "is that if you feed the [rats the supplemented] diet for 1 month, you can't rescue memories." The animals had to get CDP-choline for at least 2 months to receive some memory protection. And that, she says, points to a mechanism for what the nutritional supplement is doing.

Teather and Wurtman theorize that it takes a month of choline supplementation for the brain to build up enough acetylcholine transmitter for the choline to start getting used in the synthesis of phospholipids to make more membranes. Then gradually enough extra neuronal membrane is made for it to be available for use to do new memory formation. Also, they expect that humans would have to get only 500 mg per day because the human body retains choline more efficiently

So how to get choline in the diet? See the lists below. Keep in mind that there are about 454 grams in a pound and so 100 grams of food is less than a quarter pound.

Food (mg/100g)
Liver, dessicated 2170
Heart, beef 1720
Brewer’s yeast 300
Nuts 220
Pulses 120
Citrus fruits 85
Bread, wholemeal 80
Bananas 44

Note the different serving sizes here.

Food/serving mg choline/serving
Beef Liver, 85 grams (3 ounces) 453.2
Egg, 61 grams (1 large) 345.0
Beef Steak, 85 grams (3 ounces) 58.5
Cauliflower, 99 grams (1/6 medium head) 43.9
Iceberg Lettuce, 89 grams, (1/6 medium head) 28.9
Peanuts, 1 ounce 28.3
Peanut Butter, 32 grams (2 Tbsp) 26.1
Grape Juice, 8 ounces 12.9
Potato, 148 grams (1 medium) 12.9
Orange, 154 grams (1 medium) 11.5
Whole Milk, 8 ounces 9.7

Someone who doesn't want to eat eggs, liver, or beef heart is probably not going to get enough choline in thieir diet to achieve the effect that the MIT researchers expect. The amount of nuts needed to get enough choline would add up to a lot of calories. Though the nuts have other health benefits

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 November 27 03:05 PM  Brain Enhancement

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