Depression is a condition in which we commonly treat with antidepressants and other drugs. These medications create many potential side-effects, as they combat one’s symptoms. Since these drugs increase neurotransmitter levels and activity, your diet and supplementation can also play a role.
Choline supplements are now being researched for their effects on depression and anxiety. In fact, choline supplementation has been shown to improve mania in patients that suffer from bipolar disorder. Although evidence is limited at this time, many have reviewed choline supplements, explaining how they’ve helped improve their overall mood.
When choline levels are low, individuals often experience anxiety. Therefore, choline may be a great way to boost your mood, while reducing anxiety. First, let’s take a closer look at depression and anxiety, then focus on the ways in which choline may benefit the symptoms of these conditions.
Current Treatment Options for Depression and Anxiety
It is hard to generalize, as each individual is unique. Not only does your environment play a role in your mental state, but your brain chemistry does as well. When someone experiences mild to moderate depression, they may also suffer from anxiety. The symptoms of both these conditions, tends to hinder one’s ability to maintain their quality of life.
Currently, most people being treated for depression and anxiety, are taking prescription medication. Due to the rising concerns regarding antidepressants, more and more people are looking for alternative methods. For some, antidepressants actually worsen their mood, leading to thoughts of suicide. As some people take these drugs, their symptoms of depression and anxiety tend to worsen.
Your lifestyle choices can have a large impact on your mood. There have been many studies conducted, which support the fact that a balance diet and ample exercise, contribute to a more stable state-of-mind. What happens when a healthy diet is not enough? What if you are not getting all the nutrients you need? For this reason, many are seeking out supplements, eliminating various deficiencies.
Taking Choline Supplements for Depression
Although our bodies can produce choline, it is typically not enough. It is highly recommended that you seek-out choline sources, incorporating them into your diet. If you do not get enough choline in your diet, then supplements are your best bet.
When you have enough choline in your body, you experience multiple benefits. Not only is this molecule linked to improved mood, but increased cardiovascular health, the prevention of neural tube defects, and improved memory.
The level of choline in your system, directly influences your acetylcholine levels. Since choline is a direct precursor to this neurotransmitter, it indirectly affects cognitive functioning, mood, brain health, and more.
How Acetylcholine Relates to Mood
We now know that choline influences acetylcholine production, but what then? How do increasing levels of acetylcholine benefit one’s mood? It is believed that acetylcholine may hinder or stimulate various functions regarding mood. Mood regulation is crucial, when attempting to prevent depression.
Although research has been fairly limited, numerous studies have found a correlation between high levels of anxiety, and low levels of choline. There is also a relation between acetylcholine and GABA, a neurotransmitter that is known for its ability to regulate high levels of stress.
In some cases, acetylcholine helps to increase GABA levels, which can help combat overwhelming symptoms of depression and anxiety. Since choline plays such a vital role in the production of acetylcholine, supplementation may successfully treat anxiety and depression.
How Choline Impacts Your Brain
If you are deficient in choline, you could potentially experience a number of complications. Not only are poor moods common, but a lack of energy, as well as memory loss. When you become deficient, it may be necessary to supplement. Although supplementation is typically the best way to get enough choline, you should also focus on incorporating more choline-rich foods into your diet.
When you consume foods that are high in essential fatty acids and B6, you can start to balance low levels of choline. The following are some the richest sources of choline within your diet:
- Vegetables: While attempting to kickstart acetylcholine production, there are various vegetables to choose from. The same is true for some herbs and spices, so make sure you’re consuming a varied, yet balanced diet. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are both great options, each containing around 60 mg of choline.
- Nuts, Seeds, and Soy: If you’re looking to amp up your choline intake, then add more flax seed, organic soy, and nuts into your diet. If you do not eat meat, then focus on consuming foods such as tofu (as 3 ounces, yields about 100 mg of choline).
- Eggs and Milk: Eating one large egg, will provide your body with approximately 120 mg of choline. Although not as high, 1 cup of skim milk, still yields 38 mg of choline.
- Meat and Seafood: Meat is typically very high in choline. Only about 3 ounces of beef liver, provides you with 350 mg of choline. The same is true for seafood, as 3 ounces of cod, salmon, or shrimp; all provide you with 60-140 mg of choline.
Recommended Dosage of Choline Supplements
It is recommended that you take anywhere from 250 mg to 500 mg, once daily. The maximum dosage is debatable amongst providers, however, adults can typically use up to 1.0 grams daily. If you have never taken this supplement before, start with 50 mg a day. From there, you can increase your dosage.
Although choline bitartrate is the most commonly sold supplement in health stores, Alpha GPC and Citicoline are more reliable sources, as they contain higher concentrations of bioavailable choline. You can purchase these options online, as they are harder to find in retail stores.