When medical researchers use the term "lecithin", they are referring to a purified substance called phosphatidylcholine (PC). Supplements labeled as "lecithin" usually contain 10-20% PC. Relatively pure PC supplements are generally labeled as "phosphatidylcholine". PC best duplicates supplements used in medical research.
Most commercial lecithins contain various amounts of other phospholipids such as phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylethanolamine.
, a lipotropic molecule and the major constituent of phosphatydyl choline, is also available by itself (without the "phosphatidyl" group) in foods and supplements. It is found in soybeans, liver
and other animal organs, bile
, oatmeal, cabbage, and cauliflower. Egg yolks, meat, and some vegetables contain PC. Lecithin
(containing 10-20% PC) is added to many processed foods in small amounts, for the purpose of maintaining texture consistency.
Most commercial lecithin is derived from soybeans. Choline
is added as an ingredient in some multivitamin products as well as those specifically designed for the liver
conditions. Choline is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine
, and is often added to products designed to improve memory or depression
Commercial lecithin supplies choline, inositol
, phosphoric acid and fatty acids
to the diet.
Choline can also be found in stable salt forms such as choline bitartrate.
Function; Why it is Recommended
PC acts as a supplier of choline
. Choline is now considered an essential nutrient, needed for cell membrane integrity and to facilitate the movement of fats in and out of cells. It is also a component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine
and is needed for normal brain functioning, particularly in infants. For this reason, PC has been used in a number of preliminary studies for a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders [Benjamin J, Levine J, Fux M, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of inositol treatment for panic disorder. Am J Psychiatry 1995;152: pp.1084-6.
], though not every study suggests that supplemental choline is capable of reaching the brain [Dechent P, Pouwels PJW, Frahm J. Neither short-term nor long-term administration of oral choline alters metabolite concentrations in human brain. Biol Psychiatry 1999;46: pp.406-11
]. Choline participates in many functions involving cellular components called phospholipids.
Choline is a vitamin that is lipotropic (has an affinity for lipids
- fats). Lipotropics are fat metabolism assisting agents. As a lipotropic agent it is helpful in moving fat out of the liver
into the bile
As a precursor to betaine, choline is also involved in methylation of homocysteine as well as DNA.Lecithin
, with other phospholipids, is essential for every cellular and sub-cellular membrane in the body, especially the brain and central nervous system
. Lecithin helps to regulate fat and cholesterol
metabolism and is beneficial in atherosclerosis
has been used in connection with the following conditions:
In high amounts, pure choline
can make people smell like fish, so it's rarely used, except in the small amounts found in multivitamin supplements.