Clayton's Health Facts: Lecithin.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.
1. What is it and where does it come from?

Lecithin is a compound containing two fatty acids and choline. It is the most common phospholipid in the body. Phospholipids are cells forming a protective sheath around cells and providing for their framework.

What is lecithin, really? Actually lecithin is purified phosphatidyl choline (PC) and generally consists of 10-20% PC. Lecithin is found in many animal proteins, such as beef, lamb, liver, and pork. It is also found in high concentrations in soybeans, egg yolks, oatmeal, wheat germ, and peanuts. High quality lecithin supplements are available from Bodybuilding.com.

2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?

As a supplier of choline, PC is needed to maintain cell membrane integrity and to facilitate the movement of fats in and out of cells, as well as ions, wastes, and nutrients. Also, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine contains PC as a component. Due to its presence in acetylcholine, a wide variety of studies have been conducted on PC for its possible aid in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Due to its choline make-up, lecithin has been touted as a memory enhancer by improving cognitive function. Research shows a link between depleted acetylcholine levels in the brain and Alzheimer's disease. Although it has not been shown to have the ability to cure the degenerative disease, lecithin may slow its onset. Lecithin also has value as a fat synthesizer and may be beneficial to a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol because it would increase their breakdown and utilization by cells.

3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Virtually anyone who wants to help his or her body process fats better and his or her mind function better should supplement with lecithin. Think about it--25% of your brain by weight is phospholipids. Many other vital organs such as the liver, muscles, and reproductive tract contain high quantities of phospholipids. The most common phospholipid is lecithin! Lecithin is also good supplement to take for people with a variety of ailments. It has been shown to improve eczema, anxiety, gallbladder attacks, hepatitis, liver support, and manic depression. Real world deficiencies are not common for lecithin, although they have been induced in the laboratory.

4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

Just as it is with any dietary supplement, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Overdosing with lecithin can cause diarrhea and/or nausea. Follow the recommendations found on the bottle!