We all know how unpleasant headaches can be. Unfortunately, headaches – including migraines – are very common.
There are many possible causes of headaches, and probably just as many remedies and treatments.
Many of these so-called remedies are based on purely anecdotal evidence, and often times lack scientific support.
Sure, you can turn towards a pharmaceutical solution in the hopes of feeling better, but this approach is generally short-lived.
The headaches seem to return, often times more intense and stronger than before.
Taking a more natural approach to alleviating headaches and migraines will have a better result on your health in the long run.
Choline is a natural, inexpensive and overall effective way to say good-bye to your headaches for good, all while improving the quality of your sleep.
What Is Choline and Why Do Our Bodies Need It?
Choline is a water-soluble nutrient that is essential to many of the main functions within our bodies. Choline acts as a molecule that that eventually turns into acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter responsible for many cognitive functions, including memory and muscle controls.
Without choline, the body would face a number of health concerns, especially within the brain.
For this reason, it is important to ensure that your diet has sufficient levels of choline.
Without getting too deep into the science behind choline, it’s important to understand some of its function. To start – choline aids with the cell membrane’s synthesis of constructional components within the body.
Along with its metabolites, choline plays an essential part in three of the main functions of the body.
- signaling roles for membranes in cells
- establishing a structural integrity and cholinergic neurotransmission
- aiding in creation of synthesis pathways
What Are the Effects that Choline Has on Sleep?
It is not commonly known, but choline plays a great role in helping us stay asleep when we rest.
Since choline controls the sensory input, it helps strengthen the “stimulus barrier”, which makes it possible to sleep though minor disturbances, such as low levels of noise or motion.
As people age, they tend to become lighter sleepers.
However, choline can help regulate this phenomenon and help improve sleeping patterns.
It can also be used as a study aid, increasing levels of concentration and improving the ability to problem solve.
A low amount of choline can lead to lack of focus, or even increased irritability.
How Does Choline Help to Prevent Headaches?
Research has suggested low levels of choline can directly cause cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are severe migraine-like headaches that can occur in an almost predictable frequency over the span of several days. In 1984, the British Medical Journal published a study concluding that choline levels in red blood cells were much lower in patients suffering from cluster headaches than those who weren’t. When given lithium, these patients with cluster headaches saw a large rise in choline levels to help with relief of symptoms.
Migraine and cluster headache sufferers are encouraged to supplement choline and lecithin together to help relieve pain.
The combination of the two was found to be safe for those suffering from headaches, with little to no side effects in many studies.
What are Some of the Main Food Sources of Choline?
Getting enough choline in your diet is vital for an improved quality of life through the minimization of headaches and improvement of sleep. However this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to take a choline supplement.
Many people can get sufficient amounts though their diet alone.
The suggested daily intake for choline varies by age and gender, but to give you a ballpark stick to this approximation: ~425 mg for adult females, and ~550 mg for adult males.
This might seem like a significant amount, but getting 500 mg of choline is actually fairly easy. Here is a breakdown of some of the foods and beverages high in choline:
Sunflower lecithin syrup (32g): 544 mg
Raw beef liver (5oz): 473 mg
Soy lecithin granules (15g): 450 mg
Wheat germ (1 cup): 202 mg
Cod (.5 lb): 190 mg
Broccoli (1 lb): 182 mg
Cauliflower (1 lb): 177 mg
We have to cut this list here, but there are many other foods that contain high levels of choline as well.
Tofu, chicken, milk and many other similar dietary choices will contain adequate amounts of choline that will help you get to the recommended amount each day.
For a longer, more comprehensive list of choline rich foods check out the database here.
Other “Good to Know” Choline Facts and Factoids
When choline is taken in appropriate, recommended dosages it is considered to be extremely safe for both adults and children alike. However, dosages much higher than the suggested amount can result in a number of unwanted side effects.
So, it is important to be cautious when taking a choline supplement alongside your diet. Thoroughly educating yourself on the topic is generally a good practice.
Although not common, there have been cases of choline overdose.
The most frequently seen side effects of choline overdose are: bouts of vomiting, minor or mild nausea, sweating, diarrhea and a body odor that comes off as smelling fishy.
There is more and extensive research that needs to be completed for other side effects, but there is some concern by researchers that an overdose of choline in women could possibly increase risks of rectal and colon cancer.
Anyone that plans on using a supplement or drug should consult their physician first.
Make sure to identify any other medications you may be using to find out the best course of action.
This tidbit of advice generally applies if you’re using an external source of choline, and supplementing for it outside of just your diet.
Still, if you’re aiming to get sufficient choline from your food choices alone, it’s virtually impossible to suffer from choline overdose.
Choline allows many activities to occur inside your body at the cellular level.
Studies have shown that low levels of choline can make you irritable and cause you to have a hard time falling asleep.
Still, your diet alone should allow for an adequate intake of choline. If you do wish to supplement your daily intake, Jarrow’s Citicoline is a highly-rated choice.