Lecithin benefits our neurological functions

Lecithin benefits our brains because it is a very rich precursor source of choline, which is needed to make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is essential for normal brain function.

Lecithin is a fatty substance which is made by the liver (synthesised from choline). It is also present in certain foods.

Lecithin was named after the Greek word for egg yolk (‘leci-thos’). Lecithin is comprised of phosphatidylcholines, a group of phospholipids each made up of glycerol, Phosphorus, choline and two fatty acids of varying identity.

However, the term lecithin usually encompasses a wider group of substances - namely, phosphatidylcholine together with phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylethanolamine, Phosphatidylserine and free fatty acids, choline and inositol.

Lecithin is made internally by the liver and is also present in certain foods.

The phosphatidylcholine component of lecithin functions structurally as a component of cell membranes and is also an emulsifying component of bile. Lecithin benefits are observed through increases of the faecal excretion of neutral steroid molecules. This may reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol from the intestinal contents whilst restricting the re-absorption of endogenously produced cholesterol into the bloodstream.

Lecithin benefits through supplementation

Lecithin benefits are found in lower high blood lipid levels, but to have a substantial effect, high levels are needed.

Lecithin is able to increase the capacity of the bile to solubilise cholesterol and may be useful in the prevention of

Gallstones. At a minimum dose of 2g per day, lecithin can help to normalise the low phospholipid to cholesterol ratios.

There are many conflicting trials on the use of lecithin in senile dementia. A trial in 1996 reported that Phosphatidylserine derived from soyabean lecithin improves cognitive disorders of cholesterol ratios.

Tardive dyskinesia is characterised by repetitive and uncontrollable movements, caused by the long-term use of "neuroleptic" or antipsychotic medications. Preliminary reports suggest that some patients may benefit from large levels of either lecithin or choline. Further work in this area is warranted.

There is some evidence that the phospholipid content of myelin is depleted in Multiple sclerosis sufferers. Lecithin benefits are found in helping to slow the deterioration of the nerve coverings.

Lecithin benefits without side effects

Lecithin does not have any reported side effects at levels up to 100g per day for up to four months. Higher dosages may cause minor abdominal discomfort, Diarrhoea, and nausea. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and patients with severe liver or kidney disease has not been determined.

Lecithin benefits in fresh food

Food (mg/100g)

  • Wheat 2820
  • Soya bean 1480
  • Peanuts 1113
  • Maize 953
  • Liver 850
  • Oats 650
  • Rice 580
  • Trout 580
  • Meat 450-750
  • Eggs (each) 350
  • Butter 150

Supplements of lecithin are usually produced either from eggs or from soya, but soya lecithin benefits are preferred as the fatty acids contained in this lecithin have a higher polyunsaturated to saturated ratio.

Our personal suggestion for a health supplement combining lecithin benefits with other nutrients to maximize efficacy and results


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