Higher Dietary Choline and Betaine Intakes Are Associated with Better Body Composition in the Adult Population of Newfoundland, Canada

Background Choline is an essential nutrient and betaine is an osmolyte and methyl donor. Both are important to maintain health including adequate lipid metabolism. Supplementation of dietary choline and betaine increase muscle mass and reduce body fat in animals. However, little data is available regarding the role of dietary choline and betaine on body composition in humans. Objective To investigate the association between dietary choline and betaine intakes with body composition in a large population based cross-sectional study. Design A total of 3214 subjects from the CODING (Complex Disease in Newfoundland population: Environment and Genetics) study were assessed. Dietary choline and betaine intakes were computed from the Willett Food Frequency questionnaire. Body composition was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry following a 12-hour fast. Major confounding factors including age, sex, total calorie intake and physical activity level were controlled in all analyses. Result Significantly inverse correlations were found between dietary choline and betaine intakes, with all obesity measurements: total percent body fat (%BF), percent trunk fat (%TF), percent android fat (%AF), percent gynoid fat (%GF) and anthropometrics: weight, body mass index, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio in both women and men (r range from -0.13 to -0.47 for choline and -0.09 to -0.26 for betaine, p<0.001 for all). Dietary choline intake had stronger association than betaine. Moreover, obese subjects had the lowest dietary choline and betaine intakes, with overweight subjects in the middle, and normal weight subjects consumed the highest dietary choline and betaine (p<0.001). Vice versa, when subjects were ranked according to dietary choline and betaine intakes, subjects with the highest intake of both had the lowest %TF, %AF, %GF, %BF and highest %LM among the groups in both sexes. Conclusion Our findings indicate that high dietary choline and betaine intakes are significantly associated with favorable body composition in humans.


About Robert Zinn

Robert Zinn, M.D., Ph.D. is a medical doctor, physician, and web entrepreneur, who, for over 15 years was employed by academic and research institutions and focused his clinical practices on very specialized patient populations, such as those with rare genetic diseases or rare cancers. He shares his knowledge through his website, NutritionTheory.org

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