Balchem: ‘The industry is starting to look at the need for choline and the opportunities with it’

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Choline Nutrition

With over 90% of children, adults and pregnant women not getting enough choline, there is clearly a need and an opportunity for products with the essential nutrient, and the industry is starting to understand that, says Stephen Ashmead from Balchem.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at SupplySide West 2016, Ashmead, senior fellow, chelates for Balchem Corportation, said: “The reason we’re not getting enough choline is because our dietary patterns have changed and a lot of the foods that are very rich in choline are not part of our normal diet pattern. For example, a lot of us are not eating a lot of liver.

“Choline is an essential part of a lot of our neurological functions, it’s involved in our nervous transmission, the formation of the myelin sheath, it’s a part of all of our cell membranes,”​ he explained.

The nutrient does have an RDI, said Ashmead, which is set at 550 mg per day for adult males. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recognized choline - found naturally in beef and chicken liver, egg yolk, salmon, milk, and soybeans among other things - as an essential nutrient in 1998. The adequate intake for women was set at 425 mg/day (rising to 450 mg for pregnant women and 550 mg for breastfeeding women).

Yet according to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data,​ while American infants are doing OK (choline is in breast milk and is added to infant formula), 90% of children, adults and pregnant women are not getting enough.

Attempts to boost choline intakes therefore creates opportunities for fortifying products or dietary supplements, but the nutrient itself does present technical challenges because it is very hygroscopic.

“Fortunatley, Balchem is one of the leaders for choline with their VitaCholine and has encountered those challenges and figured out solutions for those. They have the solutions to be able to deal with capsules, tablets, gummies, softgels, whatever the application,” ​said Ashmead.

“I think the industry is starting to look at the need for choline and the opportunities with it. Once they get around the handling difficulties and the solutions we can provide then it makes it an easy product to work with.”

For a review of the health benefits of choline, please consult:
Nutrition Reviews
2009, Vol 67, Number 11, Pages 615–623, doi:  10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x
Choline: An Essential Nutrient for Public Health
Authors: S.H. Zeisel, K-A. da Costa

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