Phosphatidylcholine (lecithin), a primary dietary source of choline, is composed of a phosphate group, 2 fatty acids, and choline. The composition of essential fatty acids in phosphatidylcholine determines its value in promoting health. When phosphatidylcholine is ingested, most of it is broken down into choline, glycerol free fatty acids, and the phosphate group, rather than being incorporated intact into cellular membranes.
• Although choline can be manufactured in humans from either methionine or serine, it has recently been designated an essential nutrient.
• Choline is required for the proper metabolism of fats; it facilitates the movement of fats in and out of cells. Like Vitamin B12, 5-adenosylmethionine, and Folic Acid, choline acts in the human body as a methyl donor. As such, choline is essential for proper liver function due to its key role in the lipotropic effect, i.e., the export of fat from the liver. In the absence of adequate choline, fats become trapped in the liver, where they block metabolism. Stagnation of fat and bile eventually leads to the development of more serious liver disorders such as cirrhosis.
• Choline is needed for cell membrane integrity because of the critical role it plays in the manufacture of primary components of cell membranes, such as phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin.
• Choline is essential in the synthesis of acetylcholine.

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