Pet Food Ingredients
on July 28, 2008

Dealing with choline chloride

It's an "Intel inside" type of molecule -- but also a problem child

It's the "Intel inside" kind of molecule that allows others to function to their full potential.

Dogs and cats, like many other species, require choline. It's the "Intel inside" kind of molecule that allows others to function to their full potential. Almost all commercial petfoods contain supplemental choline, predominantly from choline chloride. However, putting choline chloride into the formula can have profound effects on the way the ingredients are combined and processed during production due to the molecule's hygroscopic (water-loving) nature.

Essential nutrient

Studies with dogs in the 1930s first led researchers to identify choline as a necessary nutrient. Since that time it has been recognized as a:

  • Key component of cell membrane phospholipids;
  • Vital part of the neurotransmitter molecule acetylcholine;
  • Lipotropic agent in fat utilization and lipid signaling; and
  • Methyl group donor in reactions involving methionine, folic acid, vitamin B12, glycine and serine.

The choline oxidation product betaine also acts as an osmolyte in the kidney. In its absence, choline deficiency can result and cause weight loss, vomiting, fatty liver and even death in dogs and cats.

While often grouped with theB-vitamins, choline is actually a closer fit, structurally and functionally, with the amino acids and fatty acids. Its similarity to B-vitamins is associated with the way it moves through the body. Specifically, choline is soluble in polar solvents like water and alcohol, has no bodily storage depots and is metabolized and excreted in proportion to the amount consumed. Thus, it must be replenished daily. Because of this constant…

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