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Home / Health / Switching to plant-based diets carries the risk of worsening nutrient deficiencies in the brain

Switching to plant-based diets carries the risk of worsening nutrient deficiencies in the brain



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The impetus for switching to a vegetable and vegan diet for the sake of the planet is praiseworthy, but there is a risk that the already low intake of an important for the health of the brain nutrient is affected, warns a nutritionist in the online journal . BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health .

To make matters worse, the British government has failed to recommend or monitor the nutrient choline, which is primarily found in animal foods, says Drs. Emma Derbyshire from Nutritional Insight, a nutrition and biomedical science consulting firm.

Choline is an essential nutritional nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is insufficient to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is crucial for brain health, especially during fetal development. Derbyshire writes that it also affects liver function, with deficiencies related to irregularities in blood lipid metabolism, as well as excessive damage to the free radicals in the cells.

The main sources of choline in food are beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chickens with much lower levels of nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.

In recognition of the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine in 1

998 recommended a daily minimum intake. These range from 425 mg / day for women to 550 mg / day for men and 450 mg / day to 550 mg / day for pregnant or breastfeeding women because the nutrient plays a crucial role in the development of the fetus.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. National nutrition surveys in North America, Australia and Europe, however, show that the usual choline intake falls behind these recommendations on average.

"This is … worrying as current trends seem to go towards meat reduction and plant growth-based nutrition," Dr. Derbyshire.

She recommends that the first report (EAT-Lancet) establish a healthy eating plan based on promoting environmental sustainability, but suggest limited intake of whole milk, eggs and animal protein. Recommendations could influence choline intake.

And she does not know why choline is not included in British nutrition advice or national population surveillance data.

"Given the important physiological role of choline and the approval of certain health claims, it is debatable why choline has been overlooked in the UK for so long," she writes. "Choline is currently excluded from UK food composition databases, key nutrition surveys and dietary guidelines," she adds.

It may be time for the UK Government's Independent Scientific Nutrition Committee to reverse this. More and more evidence of the importance of choline for human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of food production on Earth.

"More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of choline-rich nutrition, and how do you achieve this," she writes.

"If choline is not derived in the amounts needed from the diet itself, supplementation strategies are required, especially with regard to key life-cycle stages such as pregnancy, when choline is ingested are crucial to the child's development," close it.


Dietary choline is associated with a decreased risk of dementia


Further information:
Editorial: Could we overlook a possible choline crisis in the UK? DOI: 10.1136 / bmjnph-2019-000037

Provided by
British Medical Journal




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