STRENGTH: 1200 mg
Reduces cholesterol levels.
The name 'lecithin' itself has different meanings when used in chemistry and biochemistry, than when used commercially. From a chemical stand point, lecithin is phosphatidylcholine. This name refers to a natural mixture of neutral and polar lipids (fats). Phosphatidylcholine is present in commercial lecithin in concentrations that range from 20 to 90%.
The lecithin sold today is produced from vegetable, animal and microbial sources but is mostly from vegetable sources. The main sources are soybean, egg, sunflower and rapeseed for the commercial lecithins, with soybean being the most common source for retail products. Plant derived lecithin is considered to be GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the government. The fatty chemical make up of lecithin differs from plant and animal sources differ. Saturated fatty acids, such as palmitic and stearic, make up 19 to 24% of soy lecithin; the monounsaturated oleic acid contributes 9 to 11%; linoleic acid provides 56 to 60%; and alpha-linolenic acid makes up 6 to 9%. In egg yolk lecithin, the saturated fatty acids, palmitic and stearic, make up 41 to 46% of egg lecithin, oleic acid 35 to 38%, linoleic acid 15 to 18% and alpha-linolenic 0 to 1%. Soya lecithin is clearly richer in polyunsaturated fatty acids than egg lecithin.
High concentrations of lecithin are found in the brain and prostate gland. Lecithin is largely made up of choline, linoleic acid and inositol. It acts as an emulsifying agent, enabling fats and other lipids to be dispersed in water. It solubilizes fats and cholesterol in the bloodstream, intestinal mucosa, and maintains the structural integrity of cell membranes. The phospholipids in lecithin are essential components of lipoproteins and cell membranes. Lecithin is also a source of choline, a B vitamin with powerful lipotropic activity. Choline is utilized by virtually every cell in the body in the synthesis of various phospholipids, proteins, and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Research has shown that administration of choline or lecithin can raise plasma and brain choline and acetylcholine levels systemically. There is evidence that oral choline and lecithin can help alleviate neurological motor disturbances, as well as restore cognitive capabilities and memory. Phosphatidylcholine's role in the maintenance of cell membrane integrity is vital to all of the basic biological processes. These include, information flow that occurs within cells for repair and replication; the management of cellular energy and intracellular communication. Decreased cell membrane fluidization and breakdown of the cell membrane integrity are associated with a number of disorders, including liver disease, neurological diseases, various cancers and cell death.
Phosphatidylcholine is absorbed into the mucosal cells of the small intestine, mainly in the duodenum and upper jejunum, following some digestion by the pancreatic enzyme phospholipase. Phosphatidylcholine is transported in the blood in various lipoprotein particles, including very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), where it is distributed to the various tissues throughout the body. Phosphatidylcholine is also metabolized to choline, fatty acids and glycerol in the gut. Its use may be indicated to help restore liver function in a number of disorders which include alcoholic fibrosis, and some types of hepatitis. It may also be indicated for the treatment of some mental conditions, and also have a possible future role in cancer therapy, and tardive dyskinesia.
The choline in lecithin has a vital role in that it serves as a base material for neurological and hormonal messengers used to help control blood pressure and regulate insulin. Without these messengers helping to coordinate these activities, many cells would be lost as to what to do. Although nutrition scientists have known about choline for many years, it is only today that researchers are starting to understanding how essential this vitamin is. Choline can positively affect brain development throughout life, and have an ongoing impact on cardiovascular health, liver function, and reproductive development. The choline in lecithin is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine as stated, and choline is widely regarded as important in brain and mental development of both the fetus and infant. The body makes good use of the available lecithin that is taken during pregnancy to help maintain and sustain the growth of the prenatal fetus. Similarly, the choline concentration in mothers milk is over 100 times the level in the maternal blood stream. Pregnant or lactating women have a higher recommended dietary intake level for these reasons. Lecithin has been wholly under utilized over the years, primarily because most people are busy looking for the next new wonder product. Well they need look no further; because some times the answer has been right in front of you all the time!
AL, Dubin M, Jenden D, et al. Lecithin increases plasma free choline
and decreases hepatic steatosis in long-term total parenteral nutrition
patients. Gastroenterology. 1992; 102(4 Pt 1):1363-1370.