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TABLE 12-1 Studies Reporting on Cholinergic Effects and Fishy Body Odor after Excess Choline Intake


No. of Subjects


Duration (wk)

Adverse Effects

Growdon et al., 1977aa


9 g/d (wk 1); 12 g/d (wk 2)b,c


Mild cholinergic toxicity: lacrimation, blurred vision, anorexia, and diarrhea.

Growdon et al., 1977b


8–20 g/dd


Fishy body odor in all subjects; at 250–300 mg/ kg/d, produced lacrimation, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Gelenberg et al., 1979e


8–19 g/dd


100% with fishy body odor after several days; gastrointestinal irritation.f

Lawrence et al., 1980g


0.2 g/d (3 wk); 9 g/d (3 wk) c,d


At 150 mg/kg/d: 5 of 14 with fishy body odor; 12 of 15 with nausea and diarrhea.

a Study involved a double-blind, crossover protocol.

b Choline was given as a chloride or bitartrate.

c Doses were calculated from data in the report using a reference body weight of 61 kg. Depending on the body weights of the individuals in Lawrence et al. (1980) and Growdon et al. (1977a), the lowest-effect dose may be less than 7.5 g/d.

d Choline was given as a chloride.

e Nonblinded study; did not include a control group.

f Mild, transient Parkinsonian signs (bradykinesia, tremor, and rigidity) were also reported.

g Double-blind protocol; included control group.

because no specific physiological function might be expected to affect sensitivity to excess amounts of choline in older persons, no adjustments are proposed for the elderly.

UL for Adults

19 years and older

3.5 g/day of choline

Other Life Stage Groups

For infants, the UL was judged not determinable because of lack of data concerning adverse effects in this age group and concern

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