Choline is a conditionally essential nutrient for cats, meaning that it can be produced by their body naturally, but this is not sufficient to meet all their bodies’ requirements. That’s why cats need a diet that includes choline.
Choline is a vitamin-like component that plays an important role in liver health and nerve transmission, and thereby also cognitive function and muscle function in cats. As said above, cats produce some choline naturally, but due to its importance, pet food brands are advised to add this nutrient into the food.
Krill – a natural source of phosphatidylcholine
Choline is available in various forms, choline chloride, lecithin, or choline bitartrate. The commonly used one is choline chloride which is 12 times less bioavailable than the choline found in krill (phosphatidylcholine).
Krill meal is made from Antarctic krill (Euphausia Superba), which is a crustacean related to shrimp. The choline found in krill is all-natural and in the form of phosphatidylcholine. Krill is also rich in phospholipid omega-3s, marine proteins, and astaxanthin.
Therefore, one of the ways to increase choline intake in cats is to include in their diet a pet food with krill meal, which provides choline.
Choline - an essential nutrient for cats
In 2018, a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated that 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese. This has serious health consequences for pets, including fat accumulation in the liver.
A balanced, healthy diet for cats accompanied by regular physical activity is essential for overall health. In addition, nutritional supplements may help to reduce the risk of weight-related issues or optimize nutrition for cats. One way to do that is to provide cats with pet food with krill meal containing choline in the form of phosphatidylcholine.
Phosphatidylcholine is one of the most fundamental molecules that make up the living cell. Being an essential component of the cell membrane, it is also the most abundant in a class of phospholipids known as “essential phospholipids”, as it forms the structural barrier that surrounds the cell.
Choline and its metabolites have multiple physiological roles in the body which are important for the building of cell membranes, liver fat transport to prevent fatty liver, nerve impulse transmission in the brain and muscles, and provision of methyl groups that maintain liver, heart, and kidney health.
What is choline essential for?
1. Building of cell membranes
Phosphatidylcholine is an integral part of almost every cell in the animal body, being a major constituent of cell membranes. It's also important for normal cellular membrane composition and repair. Its role in cell membrane integrity is vital to all basic biological processes such as the information flow within cells from DNA to RNA to proteins.
2. Liver fat transport to prevent fatty liver
Choline improves and maintains a healthy liver function and can aid in the proper metabolism of fat. In other words, choline is very important for the proper functioning and regulation of the liver and gallbladder. This vitamin-like substance aids in hormone production and minimizes fat accumulation in the liver by regulating fat and cholesterol metabolism.
3. Nerve impulse transmission in the brain and muscles
Choline is needed for the proper transmission of nerve impulses and is a constituent of acetylcholine, the major neurotransmitter. This is essential in supporting brain development, the learning process, and the nerve transmitters and affects the overall mental well-being of pets.
4. Providing methyl groups that maintain liver, heart, and kidney health
Being a structural element of cell membranes (as phosphatidylcholine), choline supports lipid transport and acts as a source of methyl groups (after it is transformed into betaine) for various chemical reactions in the body. By controlling protein function and gene expression, choline is important for the proper function of the heart and blood vessels, nerve system, liver and reproduction.
Therefore, we can say that choline in the form of phosphatidylcholine is an essential nutrient that cats require for a healthy and happy life. It supports muscle function, cognitive function and memory, helps maintain normal cholesterol values, and protects the liver from toxicity (without phosphatidylcholine, fat, and cholesterol accumulate in the liver due to reduced low-density lipoprotein levels).
Moreover, choline can prevent the appearance of fatty liver syndrome and also support normal liver function. It can reduce insulin requirements in cats with diabetes, and diminishes seizure frequency, being important in the treatment of epilepsy.