• Choline Supplementation

    Written by Antigone Means-Burleson

    Choline is an element that is very similar to the B vitamins and is found in all living cells. Researchers are still debating whether or not it is a vitamin, since there are no known symptoms of deficiency in humans. It plays a vital role in the central nervous system, and also serves several metabolic functions. Choline may be an important element for hedgehogs because a deficiency of choline can result in increased fatty deposits in the liver! Fatty liver disease is a common hedgehog ailment, and we have used choline as part of a successful regime to reverse symptoms suggesting fatty liver problems (obesity, with yellowing at the "armpits" and so on). Sometimes choline is sold on the human supplement market as a fat burner, but really it's function is more to prevent the storing of bad fats in the liver, rather than blocking fats in general. Animal supplement companies present research suggesting that choline is vital in the healthy development of young animals. In various species, problems can include retarded growth, behavioral disturbances, poor fertility, nerve disorders, poor coat, breathing problems, loss of appetite, and muscular dystrophy.

    When supplementing with choline, it is important to remember that while it isn't toxic, consumption of too much choline can lead to over-stimulation of the muscles. In human beings, this means tightening of the shoulders and neck, resulting in tension headaches. It could spell problems for hedgies as well. Thus, food sources of choline may be preferable to processed sources. Foods high in choline include egg yolks, liver, meats, brewers yeast, milk, lentils, cabbage, cauliflower, and whole grain cereals. Eggs and meats should always be cooked before feeding to hedgehogs.