Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

Choline - A Neglected Nutrient Vital for Healthy Brains - BOOK HERE

EFSA publishes final choline opinion based on big EU data

Annie Harrison-Dunn

The opinion on the essential nutrient B-vitamin choline, found in eggs and other foods, was based on consumption data from 12 national surveys in nine EU countries.

18 August 2016 - Nutraingredients

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its opinion on how much choline is needed for different groups.

The Parma-based authority set daily adequate intakes (AIs) for choline at:

  • 400 mg for adults and adolescents aged 15-17 years.
  • 140 to 340 mg for children aged 1-14 years.
  • 160 mg for infants aged 7-11 months.
  • 480 mg for pregnant women.
  • 520 mg for lactating women.

Big data base 

The opinion was based on healthy population consumption data from 12 national surveys in nine EU countries.

This showed mean total choline intakes ranged from 75 to 127 mg per day in infants, from 151 to 210 mg/day in children aged one to less than three years, from 177 to 304 mg/day in children aged three to under 10, and from 244 to 373 mg/day among children aged from 10 to under 18.

For pregnant adolescents this was 336 mg/day and for pregnant women 356 mg/day.

This ranged from 269 to 444 mg/day and from 332 to 468 mg/day in women and men, respectively.

Last year EFSA and eight member state agencies authored a paper looking at average EU choline intakes for the first time.

It made use of EFSA's vast European Comprehensive Food Consumption Database, which drew on national-level consumption surveys and by the end of 2014 contained consumption data for about 67,000 individuals from 33 surveys representing 18 EU countries.

Essential nutrient

In its opinion, EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) warned choline deficiency could lead to fatty liver and liver and muscle damage.

In the EU there are three authorised choline health claims for its contribution to normal homocysteine metabolism, normal lipid metabolism and maintenance of normal liver function.

Food sources of the B vitamin include eggs, meat, fish, whole grains and vegetables and fruit.