Choline (Pure) is an organic compound belonging to the group of quaternary ammonium salts, being chemically called 2-hydroxyethyl-trimethylammonium. Known as a B-complex vitamin, it does not have the classic characteristics of the same. Its multifunctionality as a liver protector, methyl group donor, and having a relatively higher requirement than vitamins, in general, makes it different.
In food, choline can be found in various chemical forms such as phosphocholine, glycerophosphocholine, sphingomyelin, and phosphatidylcholine.
The nutrient choline, which is essential to many species, participates in the formation of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps in the contraction of smooth muscles, dilation of blood vessels, increase in body secretions, and decrease in heart rate. An important observation is that all these actions mentioned are linked to the thermoregulatory system of mammals and birds, therefore, directly linked to the welfare and productivity of farm animals.
Constituent of the phospholipids present in the plasma membrane of cells, as part of lecithin, it is found in two forms, phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, with each representing about 35% and 20% respectively of membrane phospholipids.
It is essential for lipid metabolism, preventing the accumulation of fat in the liver, transporting lipids in the form of lecithin.
- Fall in the growth rate;
- Perose or chondrodystrophy;
- Fatty liver;
- Renal degeneration;
- In sows, smaller litter size is attributed;
- Pectoral muscle abnormalities in chickens.
Supplementary hill sources
The source of supplemental choline is synthetic Choline Chloride.
Produced from Trimethylamine, its high hygroscopicity when adsorbed on a vegetable or mineral vehicle, limits its use in premix and concentrates containing mainly soluble minerals. In addition, there is a trend in the market and consumers to reduce synthetic ingredients in chicken and pork diets.
With this in mind, plant sources gained expression as an alternative to choline chloride. The natural choline of vegetable source presents some good advantages in comparison with the synthetic one like:
- Decreased inclusion in diets when compared to Choline Chloride, due to good bioavailability.
- It is safe, with no toxicity.
- It is not hygroscopic, one of the big problems when it comes to Choline Chloride.
In his dissertation for master in Zootechnics (UFG), DIAS (2021), compared the use of Choline Chloride and Choline from a plant source, and two consortia of choline chloride with the plant source. Among the various parameters analyzed, it was concluded that organic choline was effective as a substitute for choline chloride, maintaining the zootechnical indices (average weight, GP, CA, and CR). Furthermore, the uniformity of the birds has improved and no signs of deficiency have been observed. There was also a decrease in serum LDL and the hygroscopic content was almost four times lower.
FARINA (2014), also in a master’s thesis in Zootechnics (UFSM), evaluating the bioequivalence of a plant source as an alternative to choline chloride, concluded that one unit of the natural source is equivalent to 2.52 units of choline from the source synthetic. Better feed conversion was also observed with the plant source.
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DIAS, A.G.F. Substituição do cloreto de colina por uma fonte vegetal de colina em dietas de frangos. Dissertação de mestrado para obtenção do título de mestre em Zootecnia. UFG. Goiânia, 2021. Disponível em: http://repositorio.bc.ufg.br/tede/handle/tede/11219.
FARANI, G. Desempenho de frangos de corte suplementados com diferentes fontes e níveis de colina na dieta. Dissertação de mestrado para obtenção do título de mestre em Zootecnia. UFMS. Porto Alegre, 2014. Disponível em: https://lume.ufrgs.br/handle/10183/104086.