Choline Supports Exercise Performance, Improves Stamina and Muscle Health
Escondido, CA, September 1, 2015—Athletes and physically active people of all ages can benefit
from choline not only for their overall health, but also because it supports muscle performance during
exercise, and can improve stamina. Donald Layman, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of
Illinois, Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Urbana-Champaign, says, “Exercise
increases energy expenditure, helps maintain body composition, and controls body weight. We all
know that routine daily exercise is important, but we often forget that good nutrition choices are essential
for optimal muscle performance.”
In 1998, the Institute of Medicine (the public health arm of the National Academy of Sciences) recognized choline as an essential nutrient. “Choline is a nutrient that plays a vital role in many processes, including muscle function, but surprisingly little is known about the role of choline during exercise,” Dr. Layman says. “What is known is that Americans don’t get as much choline as experts recommend. In fact, more than 90% of us aren’t getting enough choline in our diets.”
Adequate Intake (AI) levels of choline are 550 mg/day for men and 425 mg/day for women. Consumption of choline-rich foods like eggs and liver has decreased in recent years, so it is almost always necessary to supplement the diet with choline.
Dr. Layman explains that choline supports the nervous system that sends signals to exercising muscles. “Specifically, choline is part of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine—the signal that stimulates muscle contraction, which supports muscle movement and performance.” He says exercise studies with choline have focused on prolonged activities such as marathons, where athletes suffer from loss of acetylcholine after intense training or competition. “We also know that choline losses occur after exercise of only an hour, with a long run, cycling or a competitive tennis match.”
Choline deficiency has adverse effects on muscle health, including fat metabolism and muscle function. “Choline supplementation may provide benefits for endurance athletes such as marathon runners, as well as more casual athletes, by preventing the adverse health effects associated with choline deficiency. Adequate intake of choline from food or dietary supplements is essential for good health and physical performance for everyone,” Dr. Layman says.