What are the health benefits of lecithin? Should I take supplements?

What are the health benefits of lecithin? Should I take supplements?

What are the health benefits of lecithin? Should I take supplements?
What are the health benefits of lecithin? Should I take supplements?

Lecithin is one of the key nutrients needed for the nervous system to function properly. It is present in all tissues and the brain is 30% lecithin. Meeting the norm of this substance helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and has a positive effect on liver function.

As a result of metabolism, lecithin is converted to choline, which is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses. In addition, choline affects carbohydrate metabolism by regulating insulin production. Despite their importance for health, both nutrients are practically not produced in the body and must be supplied with food.

Lecithin - what is it?

Lecithin

Lecithin is a common name for esters of polyhydric alcohols consisting of phospholipids and triglycerides. The name comes from the Greek word "lecithos" (λέκιθος), which means yolk - lecithin was first discovered in egg yolk.

From a physical point of view, lecithin has a unique ability - as an emulsifier, it allows the mixing of initially immiscible liquid phases (eg water and fats). Due to this property it is used in the food industry as an additive E322.

In practice, lecithin is included in all types of baked goods (providing a mixture of water and butter), as well as in chocolate, mayonnaise, margarine and other products. Among other things, special lecithin-based food supplements are produced.

Lecithin - in brief:

  • a fat-like substance discovered in 1845
  • allows you to mix water and fat
  • essential for choline production

Why is choline needed?

Choline is an essential nutrient that is important for human health, but is practically not produced in the body. Choline was originally referred to as "vitamin B4", but modern science compares its metabolism to amino acids, not vitamins.

The benefits of choline are mainly in ensuring the functioning of the brain and nervous system - and in particular in maintaining neuroplasticity. Acetylcholine activates and accelerates cognitive functions, contributes to the formation and retention of memory.

What are the benefits of lecithin?

The first food product in which lecithin was found was egg yolk, which owes its name to it. Later, lecithin was found in soybeans and other grains (including peanuts), in sunflower seeds, rapeseed oil, and also in the flesh of organs (mainly in the liver).

In fact, talking about the health benefits of lecithin comes down to talking about the benefits of lecithin from eggs, soy or sunflower. Each of them is composed of a specific type of phospholipids and triglycerides.

Studies show that taking soy lecithin supplements lowers bad cholesterol in the blood and is also beneficial in reducing the production of the stress hormone cortisol.

1. Reduces cholesterol

Daily intake of 500 mg soy lecithin for two months helped reduce total cholesterol in patients by 42% - while the level of "bad" LDL cholesterol was reduced by 56% ³.

2. Improves cognitive functions

Choline (for which lecithin is the starting material) is essential for brain function. Animal studies show that choline intake has a positive effect on both brain development and aging.

3. Affects liver function

Lecithin is a key active ingredient in hepatoprotectors - drugs designed to prevent liver disease. Lecithin is thought to regulate bile production and can prevent the development of cirrhosis of the liver in alcohol abuse.

4. May increase immunity

Animal studies have shown that lecithin intake increases the number of macrophages by 29%. Macrophages are white blood cells that metabolize microbes, cancer cells and foreign materials in the body.

Should I take supplements?

Should I take supplements

Despite the health benefits of the substance, there are no clear recommendations for daily lecithin intake. Daily needs vary from person to person, depending on diet and level of physical activity.

As for choline, we usually talk about 425 - 560 mg per day. However, statistics show that in the United States, most people get their norm with regular food and do not need to take choline supplements  4  .

For example, one egg covers about 30% of the need for this substance. However, the list of foods containing lecithin is quite limited and is not always included in the daily diet.

//  List of lecithin products:

  • egg yolk
  • soybeans
  • peanuts and other legumes
  • Sunflower oil
  • rapeseed oil (  canola oil  )
  • meat offal (liver)
  • seafood and fish

Soy lecithin - contraindications

Most of the lecithin used in the food industry (additive E322) and in the production of food additives is produced from soy. We often talk about the use of genetically modified crops. Among other things, the emulsifier lecithin undergoes complex hydrolysis processes.

Although studies do not confirm the harm of such lecithin, manufacturers prefer to gradually abandon it. The substitute is sunflower lecithin, obtained from sunflower seeds by cold pressing.

The main contraindication is the combined use of lecithin and alcohol. Because ethyl alcohol destroys amino acids, choline esters are literally burned in it - as a result of which the additive completely loses its useful properties.

***

Lecithin is one of the key nutrients needed for the proper functioning of the human nervous system. The substance is useful both for liver health (regulates cholesterol synthesis) and for maintaining cognitive functions of the brain. However, no additional intake in the form of supplements is often required.

Data sources:

  1. Natural lecithin promotes the complexity and activity of the neural network  source
  2. Soy lecithin supplement - health benefits, dosage, side effects,  source
  3. Everything you need to know about lecithin  source
  4. Foods high in lecithin,  source
  5. zasporta.com Source