February 22, 2018
New Hampton, NY – With the recent awarding of a significant grant to the University of North Carolina (UNC) Nutrition Research Institute to develop and validate laboratory tests able to assess choline status in humans, collaboration between industry, researchers and the medical community is coalescing to push choline into mainstream awareness.
“This grant is an important step in supporting human health by providing a tool that will motivate people to get adequate amounts of choline once they are able to find out what their levels actually are,” said Tom Druke, Director of VitaCholine Brand Development, Balchem Human Nutrition and Pharma. “This is an ideal example of how industry can collaborate with leading institutions to conduct important research that leads to government funding. Balchem is proud to have supported this groundbreaking research.”
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one of the National Institutes of Health, awarded UNC director Steven H. Zeisel, MD, PhD a four-year, $2.6 million grant after he demonstrated that the studies were feasible and likely to succeed based upon proof-of-concept data in a pilot study funded by Balchem Corporation. The need for good validated biomarkers for assessing choline nutritional status in clinical or public health practice settings is clear: extensive research by the US Centers of Disease Control (What We Eat in America, NHANES 2013-2014) determined that a staggering 90% of US adults are not getting the recommended intake of the essential nutrient choline.
The need for adequate levels is well understood: people with prolonged choline inadequacy may experience muscle damage. Low choline levels may also lead to fat accumulation in the liver; one of the unique roles choline plays in metabolism is to help transport fat out of the liver. Sufficient choline levels are essential for women during pregnancy and lactation because large amounts are required by the growing fetus and infant to assure normal brain development.
Data on prenatal and infant choline intake is particularly compelling. New research conducted at Cornell University by Marie A. Caudill and recently published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (The FASEB Journal) revealed that significantly higher choline intakes during pregnancy, particularly in the last trimester, may result in faster information processing for their babies. The Caudill study found the infants whose mothers consumed 930 mg choline per day experienced higher information processing speeds at all ages, significantly faster than the control group, which received the currently recommended yet seldom achieved 450 mg of choline per day. These findings are consistent with other research that supports the important role choline plays for pregnant women and newborns.
The Institute of Medicine established a Dietary Reference Intake of 450 mg for pregnant women and 550 mg for adults in general. However, the NHANES study indicates that women consume just 278 mg of choline on average from both food and supplements, far below recommended levels.
Last year, the American Medical Association recognized the essential role of choline during pregnancy by proactively recommending that choline be included in all prenatal multivitamins, most of which have included very little to none.
Support for increased choline from the medical community intensified last month with an important policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in the journal Pediatrics outlining the importance of proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life. Choline was noted as one of several nutrients that this leading medical institution specifically called out as ‘brain-building nutrients."
Key stakeholders from universities, research centers, associations, and government organizations including the NIH, HHS, FDA and USDA will meet this month as part of a Choline Roundtable to assess the science and address public health needs. Participants will review choline levels in the population, discuss choline as a nutrient of public health concern, examine the science and develop strategies for addressing the well-known choline gap.
Balchem Corporation is a global leader in choline, microencapsulation and chelated mineral technology. Committed to providing products with superior performance, Balchem's unique and proprietary technology offers the most efficient and cost-effective source of select nutrients for supplementation and fortification. VitaCholine® is Balchem's branded line of choline salts that can be added during manufacturing to help fortify infant formula, dietary supplements and foods and beverages to support choline intake essential for all life stages. For more information about choline and benefits, visit cholinecouncil.com and to learn more about VitaCholine, visit vitacholine.com.