Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is the predominant phospholipid building block of cellular internal and external membranes, and an integral part of the structure of circulating lipoproteins.1 It is a vital component required for membrane integrity, structure, and function. PC is a normal constituent of bile and facilitates fat emulsification, absorption, and transport. Although small amounts of choline, provided by PC, can be synthesized from methionine or serine, it is considered an essential nutrient and must be obtained from the diet.2 Although thresholds have been established for an adequate intake of choline, studies have shown that this may not be sufficient for prevention of symptoms of choline deficiency such as fatty liver or muscle damage.* 3 The risk of choline deficiency is higher in men, postmenopausal women, vegans or vegetarians, and individuals with genetic polymorphisms related to folate or choline metabolism.1 Supplemental intake of PC is one means of providing sufficient choline for the body’s needs.
Sufficient levels of PC are necessary for many biochemical pathways, supporting critical functions and physiology. This includes fat and cholesterol metabolism, homocysteine metabolism, fetal development, neurocognitive health and development, and liver detoxification of chemicals, heavy metals, and xenobiotics.* 1,4 Choline provided by PC is a precursor for the synthesis of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter centrally in the brain, and necessary peripherally for muscle control and other aspects of cholinergic signalling. Choline supports the body’s antioxidant status, reducing lipid peroxidation,5 and is also a major source of methyl groups via its metabolite trimethylglycine (TMG),1 which is important for Phase II hepatic detoxification.*