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Vegans need choline

Expert insight:

Choline is crucial for proper cell function throughout the body, says study author Taylor Wallace, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. It also helps your body produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in muscle contractions. If you don’t get enough of the nutrient, muscle function gets impaired.

The first signs of a choline deficiency include premature mid-workout fatigue and weakness as well as excessive post-workout soreness, Wallace says. Endurance athletes are likely to feel the effects the most. The longer you exercise, the lower your choline stores fall.

The bottom line:

Meat-eaters can get the daily adequate intake from beef, eggs, and chicken. Vegans will need to take a supplement—or eat seven cups of Brussels sprouts or broccoli per day, Wallace notes—to reach that threshold. Talk to your doctor before starting a regimen.