Quest Vitamins LTD,
Lecithin is a fatty substance which is made by the liver (synthesised from choline). It is also present in certain foods. Lecithin was named after the Greek word for egg yolk (?leci-thos?). Lecithin is comprised of phosphatidylcholines - a group of phospholipids each made up of glycerol, Phosphorus, choline and two fatty acids of varying identity.
However, the term lecithin usually encompasses a wider group of substances - namely, phosphatidylcholine together with phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylethanolamine, Phosphatidylserine and free fatty acids, choline and inositol.
Lecithin is made internally by the liver and is also present in certain foods.
Lecithin is a very rich precursor source of choline, which is needed to make acetylcholine - a neurotransmitter that is essential for normal brain function.
The phosphatidylcholine component of lecithin functions structurally as a component of cell membranes and is also an emulsifying component of bile.
Lecithin increases the faecal excretion of neutral steroid molecules. This may reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol from the intestinal contents whilst restricting the re-absorption of endogenously produced cholesterol into the bloodstream.
Lecithin does not have any reported side effects at levels up to 100g per day for up to four months.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and patients with severe liver or kidney disease has not been determined.
There are no known drug interactions or other contra-indications for lecithin.
Supplements of lecithin are usually produced either from eggs or from soya, but soya lecithin is nutritionally to be preferred as the fatty acids contained in this lecithin have a higher polyunsaturated to saturated ratio.
Importance of Unbleached Lecithin Products
The manufacturing of unbleached lecithin is slower and more labour-intensive than conventional lecithin. The process does not use solvents and results in a more stable product.
1. Polichetti E, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effect of soyabean lecithin in normolipidaemic rats by stimulation of biliary lipid secretion. British J Nutrition, 75;3:471-478 1996.