Lecithin is a fat that is essential in the cells of the body. It can be found in many foods, including soybeans and egg yolks. Lecithin is taken as a medicine and is also used in the manufacturing of medicines.
Lecithin is used for treating memory disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used for treating gallbladder disease, liver disease, certain types of depression, high cholesterol, anxiety, and a skin disease called eczema.
Some people apply lecithin to the skin as a moisturizer.
You will often see lecithin as a food additive. It is used to keep certain ingredients from separating out.
You may also see lecithin as an ingredient in some eye medicines. It is used to help keep the medicine in contact with the eye’s cornea.
How does it work?
Lecithin is converted into acetylcholine, a substance that transmits nerve impulses.
Possibly Effective for:
- Liver disease. Taking lecithin seems to reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who are fed long-term through a needle in the vein (parenteral nutrition).
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Gallbladder disease.
Likely Ineffective for:
- Dementia related to Alzheimer's disease or other causes.
- Age-related memory impairment.
- Head injury.
- High cholesterol. Limited research shows that lecithin decreases cholesterol in healthy people and in people taking cholesterol-lowering therapy (statins). However, other evidence shows that lecithin has no effect on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or total cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
- Manic-depressive disorder. Early research shows that taking lecithin improves symptoms of delusions, jumbled speech, and hallucinations in people with mania.
- Dry skin, dermatitis. Lecithin is often put in skin creams to help the skin retain moisture. People may tell you this works, but there is no reliable clinical research showing that lecithin is effective for this use.
- Athletic performance. Limited research shows that taking lecithin by mouth does not seem to improve athletic performance in trained athletes.
- Movement disorders (tardive dyskinesia). Early studies suggest that taking lecithin by mouth alone, or in combination with lithium, does not appear to improve symptoms in people with tardive dyskinesia when used for 2 months.
- Parkinson’s disease. Early research shows that 32 grams lecithin daily does not improve clinical symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & Safety
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of lecithin during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
The appropriate dose of lecithin depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for lecithin. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.