Choline citrate supplements are used by many individuals since the essential nutrient can only be made to a limited extent by the body. Due to its purported energizing and cellular health-promoting effects, some athletes choose to use choline citrate supplements. Patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia may also benefit from choline supplementation, as the nutrient is believed to improve the absorption and use of minerals like magnesium and calcium. Although there has been some research suggesting that choline be used to promote the cognitive development of infants in utero, more research is needed before its use during pregnancy can be established.
The largest expenditure of choline within the body is the manufacture of betaine. Betaine facilitates methylation by donating some of the molecules required for the process. Methyl donors like betaine are needed for the synthesis of lipids and some neurotransmitters as well as for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) transcription. It is possible that the DNA transcription errors in part associated with aging may be due to the deterioration of the body's methylation abilities over time. Some alternative medical practitioners theorize that the use of dietary supplements containing choline citrate may slow the aging process, although there is no research as of 2011 to support this claim.
Choline's importance in the manufacture of neurochemicals, however, is well-understood. The cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer's disease are sometimes attributed to damage to the brain's cholinergic system, which is responsible for learning, memory, mood and other functions. These deficits are sometimes treated with drugs to increase serum concentrations of acetylcholine, one of the most important of the brain's excitatory chemicals. Supplements containing choline citrate may provide the body with additional choline for use in the manufacture of this and other neurotransmitters.
Choline is also required for the creation and maintenance of healthy cellular membranes. The nutrient is used within the liver in the synthesis of phosphotidylcholine, an important component of the phospolipid bilayer that makes up the majority of cellular and nuclear membranes. The structure of the phospholipid bilayer enables cells to control what enters and leaves through the cell membrane by acting as a barrier between fluids within and outside the cell.
Although choline can be obtained through a wide variety of dietary sources, including meats, vegetables, nuts, beans and eggs, some people choose to supplement their natural intake with choline citrate supplements. While the body makes a limited amount of the nutrient, choline deficiency is rare in individuals eating a normal diet. Choline is vital for a number of the body's structural and metabolic needs, including DNA transcription, brain chemistry, and the maintenance of cell walls.