Volume 5, Issue 38 September 20, 2012
Don't destroy your brain with this
simple diet mistake
Many years ago, when cholesterol became the latest heart disease threat, many people started avoiding high-cholesterol foods. Unfortunately, one of the foods they decided to avoid is crucial for good brain health.

The truth is cholesterol is good for your brain. In fact, your brain makes cholesterol. So it makes sense that this food would be good for your brain. But there’s another reason this food is good for you. So what is this great food people are avoiding?

They are avoiding eating eggs, particularly the best part – the yolks. What’s so great about eggs? Yes, eggs contain cholesterol. That’s why people think they’re bad for them. They think they will have a heart attack and die if they eat one! But that’s not true!

Egg yolks are the major food source of the essential nutrient choline. And maintaining optimal choline intake is crucial for brain function. Just last month a study published in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition underlined this fact.

The study comes out of the Department of Nutrition at the University of Oslo in Norway. The authors looked at 2,195 men and women 70-74 years old. First, they evaluated the participants’ brain function using a series of three cognitive tests. Then they measured the amount of free choline in their blood (plasma).

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They found that there was a particular level of choline that correlated with better scores. That level was over 8.4 μmol/l. Lower levels than this appeared to cause lower scores.

I routinely check the choline status in all of my new patients as part of their initial evaluation. I would say that about 20% of the time it comes up lacking. Additionally, the 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Survey found that the older a person gets, the less choline they get in their diet. So much so that adults over 71 and older eat an average of only 264 mg per day. This is barely half of what they need.

One egg typically has about 125 mg of choline. The only other really good source for choline is meats. But let me please be fair to my vegan or otherwise anti-egg friends. There are other sources of choline than eggs. You can get the same amount of choline found in a single egg from 3¼ cups of nonfat milk or 3½ ounces of wheat germ.

Or, finally, if you want to keep it really simple, you can take one 500-900 mg capsule of phosphatidyl choline per day. That and your diet should keep you in the higher levels. You can order a high-quality phosphatidyl choline supplement by following this link.

Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD

Nurk, E, H. Refsum, I. Bjelland, et al. “Plasma free choline, betaine and cognitive performance: the Hordaland Health Study,” Br J Nutr. 2012 May 1:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]

Zeisel, S.H. and K. da Costa. “Choline: An Essential Nutrient for Public Health,” Nutr Rev. 2009 November; 67(11): 615–623.

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