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Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1303-10. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28456. Epub 2010 Mar 10.

Are dietary choline and betaine intakes determinants of total homocysteine concentration?

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  • 1Department of Food and Nutrition, Sookmyung Women's University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



Elevated homocysteine concentrations are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a decline in cognitive function. Intakes of choline and betaine, as methyl donors, may affect homocysteine concentrations.


The objective was to examine whether choline and betaine intakes, assessed from food-frequency questionnaires, are associated with total plasma homocysteine concentrations under both fasting and post-methionine-load conditions in both pre- and post-folic acid fortification periods in the United States.


We assessed the association between choline and betaine intakes and fasting and post-methionine-load homocysteine concentrations using the US Department of Agriculture revised food-composition tables and evaluated whether the associations varied by folic acid fortification periods in 1325 male and 1407 female participants in the sixth examination (1995-1998) of the Framingham Offspring Study.


A higher choline-plus-betaine intake was associated with lower concentrations of post-methionine-load homocysteine; the multivariate geometric means were 24.1 micromol/L (95% CI: 23.4, 24.9 micromol/L) in the top quintile of intake and 25.0 micromol/L (95% CI: 24.2, 25.7 micromol/L) in the bottom quintile (P for trend = 0.01). We found an inverse association between choline-plus-betaine intake and fasting homocysteine concentrations; the multivariate geometric mean fasting homocysteine concentrations were 9.6 micromol/L (95% CI: 9.3, 9.9 micromol/L) in the top quintile and 10.1 micromol/L (95% CI: 9.8, 10.4 micromol/L) in the bottom quintile (P for trend < 0.001). When we stratified by plasma folate and vitamin B-12 concentrations, the inverse association was limited to participants with low plasma folate or vitamin B-12 concentrations. In the postfortification period, the inverse association between choline-plus-betaine intake and either fasting or post-methionine-load homocysteine was no longer present.


Choline and betaine intakes were associated with both fasting and post-methionine-load total homocysteine concentrations, especially in participants with low folate and vitamin B-12 status. The inverse association between choline and betaine intakes and homocysteine concentrations was no longer present in the postfortification period.

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