How it helps: The vitamin-like compound is the main building block of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in brain functioning as well as muscular movement. The unsung nutrient also plays an important role in a properly operating metabolism and nervous system. Symptoms of prolonged choline deficiency can include poor memory, sagging energy levels, muscle aches and altered mood.
Are you missing out? Only about 10 percent of Americans eat the recommended amount of choline—550 and 425 milligrams each day for men and women, respectively. And poor intakes might be especially concerning for endurance athletes. One study on long-distance runners published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that choline stores dropped by about 40 percent following a race. That’s because the more you exercise, the more acetylcholine is used up for the purpose of stimulating muscular contraction. So without a resupply of choline, your muscles may feel less than spunky during training.
Load up: An easy way is to crack open an egg—a single yolk has about 145 milligrams of choline. Other dietary sources include liver, beef, fish, chicken, milk, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and peanut butter.