Lecithin is a fatty material naturally found in all living cell membranes within animal and plant cells. In both animal and plant cells, it’s the most plentiful phospholipid, constituting about half of total phospholipid content. In human beings, Lecithin is a vital part of HDL cholesterol and it’s the major phospholipid in plasma.
Lecithin is a precursor for the acetylcholine neurotransmitter which is responsible for cell signaling in brain cells. It forms a major portion of the myelin sheath surrounding your nerves, making it essential for brain and skin health. It also functions as an emulsifier, controlling the entry and exit of cell nutrients in the lipid bilayer.
Since Lecithin is available from several natural sources, it is considered a key dietary source of choline. It is found naturally in numerous foods, like egg yolks, soybeans, milk, grains, fish, yeast, wheat germ, legumes, and peanuts. It is also found in liver, grape juice, cauliflower, and cabbage.
It is also sold as a dietary supplement and may be combined with phosphatide, choline, inositol and phosphatidylcholine and other compounds.
Uses of Liquid Lecithin
In the Food Industry
Lecithin liquid has a long history of use as an emulsifier in the food industry because it can be fully metabolized in the body. In food products such as margarine, mayonnaise, sauces, shortenings, soups, gravies, and salad dressings, it is used as an emulsifier.
It is also added as an emulsifying, dispersing, and a wetting agent to chocolate and caramels and to prevent crystallization. It is added to powdered products like cocoa powder, cake mixes, and instant pudding mix.
Lecithin is also used as a food additive and functions as a thickener, moisturizer, emulsifier, and mild preservative. As an additive, it is used to prevent some ingredients from separating. It’s also used as a moisturizing and anti-caking agent and added to baked goods like breads, cookie dough, and cakes.
It is used as an ingredient in medicines but can also be taken as medicine. It’s an ingredient in some eye medicines and works by keeping the medication in contact with the cornea. Lecithin is also used to treat memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
For Brain Health
Consuming extra lecithin may lead to higher choline levels in your body. This results in enhanced cholinergic activity in your brain, necessary for memory improvement. Cholinergic activity affects all the signaling pathways involving the acetylcholine neurotransmitter. This is essential in the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia because acetylcholine production is compromised.
Previous research shows that the consumption of choline supplements, such as lecithin, may increase the accessibility of acetylcholine in the brain. This may reinforce brain cell health and memory that declines with age.
In the study, soy lecithin-derived phosphatidylserine plus phosphatidic acid were given to elderly test subjects. After some time, there was a noticeable improvement in cognition, mood, and memory. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease experienced a change in their emotional state, daily functioning, and general condition.
The study concluded that there was a significant effect observed in elderly patients after giving them Lecithin.
For Hypercholesterolemia (High Cholesterol)
When soy lecithin is taken as a dietary supplement, it can reduce cholesterol levels. A lecithin-rich diet activates fatty acid emission with high levels of cholesterol and phospholipids. In this study, the test subjects were given a lecithin capsule every day. After a month, it was noted that there was a significant decrease in their LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol. It is believed that lecithin reduces the intestinal absorption of cholesterol or increases the secretion of bile acids that contain high levels of phospholipids and cholesterol.
In Managing the Symptoms of Different Conditions
Lecithin can also increase cognitive capacity, help with weight loss, and enhance skin health. This natural supplement is also believed to improve poor nutrition and boost energy and physical performance.
Lecithin is also applied in the treatment of liver disease, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, eczema, and anxiety. In people suffering from liver disease, lecithin consumption has been shown to reduce accumulation of fat in people on long-term parenteral nutrition.
It may enhance cardiovascular health and support the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K). It can help manage neurological disorders, psoriasis, improve digestion, and support general health.
Research also indicates that oral consumption of lecithin can help relieve symptoms of hallucinations, jumbled speech, and delusions in people suffering from manic-depressive disorder.
Supplementing with liquid lecithin has been highly successful in the treatment of choline depletion. Increasing dietary lecithin or supplementation in patients undergoing high cholesterol treatment with niacin has been shown to improve body choline levels. Lecithin is also recommended to breastfeeding women as it may help prevent blocked milk ducts.
For the Skin
You can take liquid lecithin orally or apply it directly to your skin as a moisturizer. It is an ingredient in many skin creams believed to retain skin moisture and treat dermatitis and dry skin.
Research shows that hydrogenated lecithin does not irritate or sensitize human or animal skin. They are safe to use in rinse-off cosmetic products and in leave-on products, so long as they do not exceed concentrations of 15% – which are the highest levels tested in clinical studies. The ingredients are not safe to use in cosmetic products that contain N-nitroso compounds as they may bring about the creation of nitrosamines.
Most of the claims about the benefits and uses of liquid lecithin are based on the fact that it is an emulsifying agent. There is need for a lot of research to back up the claims.
While dosages of 1,000 mg to 25 g have been used in different research studies, the FDA hasn’t given a standardized dosage for lecithin. In research studies on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the administered dosages have ranged from 1,000 mg to 25g. Some studies on lecithin for cholesterol lowering effects have used 1.80 g. Currently, there is insufficient scientific information to help establish an appropriate dosage.
Your ideal dosage depends on your age, health condition, and reasons for taking it. Since the safety of natural supplements isn’t always assured, take it as directed. Follow the directions on the product label to the letter.
In addition, consult a medical professional before consuming the dietary supplement.
A Review of Liquid Lecithin
Lecithin is sold as a powder, soft gel capsules, granules, and in liquid form. The granules or powder may be put in beverages or food or used directly on the skin as treatment. Lecithin capsules should be taken according to the package directions.
The liquid form of lecithin is preferred by most consumers, especially those taking dosages greater than 2 g a day. Liquid lecithin can be quickly added to protein shakes or smoothies. It may be highly filtered and might contain less than 35% phosphatidylcholine.
For topical application, liquid lecithin is best as compared to powder or granules. It comes ready to use while the granules or powder require dissolving before use. Swallowing several pills in tablet form, on a daily basis, may be an inconvenience as well.
The popular source of liquid lecithin is organic soybeans. There are other sources available if you are intolerant or allergic to soy. One great option is sunflower liquid lecithin, which is ideal for those with allergies or concerns about soy and estrogen.
The Side Effects of Liquid Lecithin
Liquid lecithin is categorized as likely safe in different forms, especially when it is used appropriately. In the food products it is present in, lecithin is rated as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
According to a study carried out by Vanderbilt University, majority of people don’t experience any side effects after taking lecithin supplements that contain 10-30 grams. Clinical studies that researched on the phospholipid found that it is well tolerated, as few and mild side effects were reported.
If a dosage higher than 30 grams is ingested every day, liquid lecithin may cause gastrointestinal problems, weight gain, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, rash, and a fish-like body odor. You may also experience a headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, or fullness. Increased levels of acetylcholine due to lecithin supplementation may worsen the symptoms of depression.
People with soy intolerance or allergy can experience a negative reaction to the trace amounts of soy protein found in soy lecithin – even though it is very unlikely. The other ingredients that make up the supplement may be responsible for many of the negative effects. This is because the effects don’t manifest with phosphatidylcholine supplementation only.
Liquid lecithin is not recommended for use by pregnant or lactating women. There is insufficient research on the effects of the supplement on this group of people.
This natural supplement has been known to interact with Diclofenac. However, when topically applied with Diclofenac on the skin, lecithin may enhance its absorption. There are no other known interactions with other medications, herbs, supplements, foods, or diseases.
Consult your health care provider before using liquid lecithin supplements for any medical purposes.