What is lecithin?
Lecithin is a group of fatty acids or phospholipids, that can be found in plant and animal products, and that are essential to human health.
Lecithin is naturally found in foods such as soybeans, egg yolks, sunflower oil, and it is added to certain packaged foods. Soy is the most common ingredient used for supplements though sunflower lecithin is also commonly used.
These phospholipids are naturally present in tissues of the body and found in high amounts in the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. Lecithin is also sold as a dietary supplement.
Sunflower lecithin is a source of many nutrients such as phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, choline, inositol, omega 3 fatty acids, and omega 6 fatty acids.
As a breastfeeding aid
Lecithin is a natural component that is found in breast milk. It is used as a breastfeeding aid as it can help to prevent clogged milk ducts and promote consistent milk flow.
A clogged duct can impede breast milk supply to the baby and cause discomfort for the mother as well as increase the risk of infection.
If you experience clogged ducts regularly, lecithin might be recommended to you as a natural treatment to help reduce the viscosity of breast milk and potentially help to prevent future occurrence of blocked milk ducts or mastitis (1)(2).
Risks of lecithin supplements while breastfeeding
Though lecithin supplementation has shown promising results as a breastfeeding aid and is considered to be "generally recognized as safe" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more scientific research is needed to properly assess its efficacy and safety for breastfeeding mothers. Always verify first with your health professional before supplementing. Large doses of lecithin are to be avoided and may cause harm.
What are the other benefits of lecithin?
Research suggests that lecithin may improve cholesterol levels and support heart health.
Soy lecithin, in particular, was shown to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol as well as total cholesterol levels during the first month of treatment suggesting that the daily administration of soy lecithin may be used as a supplemental treatment in hypercholesterolemia (3).
Lecithin may be an effective dietary supplement for cardiovascular health due to its ability to reduce hyperlipidemia and influence lipid metabolism.
Improved immune function
More research is needed in humans.
The combination of lecithin with quercetin may provide more immune benefits than if solely supplemented on its own. Combining quercetin, a flavonol compound with antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory effects, with lecithin may increase its bioavailability by as much as 20 times (5).
A lecithin supplement may improve certain digestive conditions, including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome, by reducing bowel inflammation.
Lecithin's emulsifying properties improve mucus and reduce inflammation in the intestines while protecting the intestinal lining (6). About 70 percent of the phospholipids in the intestinal mucus layer are made up of lecithin, providing a protective barrier against pathogenic bacteria. Lecithin may be a particularly effective natural treatment to consider in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.
Ulcerative colitis has been shown to be associated with low levels of phosphatidylcholine, a component of lecithin and that is protective to the digestive system (7). Research confirms that lecithin is effective in resolving the inflammatory activity of Ulcerative colitis and may even prove to be a first line therapy for this disease (8).
Enhanced cognitive function
Lecithin is a good source of choline and fatty acids, which are essential nutrients for healthy brain and nerve function.
Among Alzheimer's patients, short-term supplementation of phosphatidylserine and phosphatidic acids produced from soy lecithin showed a stabilizing effect on daily functioning, emotional state, and self-reported general condition (12). These findings suggest that lecithin may have a positive effect on mood and the maintenance of good cognitive function.
TOP Supplements from Vitasave
NOW Sunflower Lecithin Powder has phosphatidylcholine, the most abundant phospholipid in the cell membrane. It also naturally abounds in Phosphatidyl Inositol, Phosphatidyl Ethanolamine, and essential fatty acids. Lecithin aids in emulsifying fats, enabling them to be dispersed in water. NOW Sunflower Lecithin Powder is Soy-Free and non-GMO.
Lecithin is a good source of choline, which helps maintain liver health and is critical to the proper function of cells and the nervous system. Some diets may not always provide enough lecithin for optimal health. Natural Factors Unbleached Lecithin is a high-quality blend made from 100% soy.
Phosphatidyl Choline (also referred to as phosphatidylcholine) is a preferred form of choline derived directly from lecithin. Scientific research has revealed the outstanding benefits of phosphatidyl choline (PC) as a nutritional supplement. This versatile phospholipid is recognized for its advantages to liver function as well as a nutrient essential to brain function.
NOW Sunflower Lecithin has phosphatidylcholine, the most abundant phospholipid in the cell membrane. Although phosphatidylcholine phospholipids are present in almost all cells within the body, the highest concentrations may be found in the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys. NOW Sunflower Lecithin also naturally abounds in phosphatidyl inositol, phosphatidyl ethanolamine, and essential fatty acids. Lecithin in the diet aids in emulsifying fats, enabling them to be dispersed in water; and as a choline-containing phospholipid, its choline is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. NOW Sunflower Lecithin Liquid is Non-GMO and Soy-Free and can be taken directly, or added to foods, beverages, and health shakes.
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