Nutrition and Benefits of Lecithin

Understanding Its Effects on Cholesterol, Ulcerative Colitis, and Other Conditions

Lecithin is a mixture of fats that have important functions in human cells. It is found in a variety of different foods, including egg yolks, sunflower seeds, soybeans, and fish. Cellulose Acetate Butyrate Uses

Nutrition and Benefits of Lecithin

Lecithin has been studied for its effectiveness in treating and preventing certain health conditions, including dementia, high cholesterol, and ulcerative colitis. Although it has shown promise in some studies, more research is needed.

This article explores the purported health benefits of lecithin. It also discusses dosing information, potential interactions, and how to shop for lecithin supplements.

Lecithin is a type of fat found in foods like the following:

Lecithin is considered safe at recommended doses for short-term use. It is also sometimes added to the following products:

Lecithin contains phospholipids like phosphatidylcholine. Phospholipids are a type of fat combined with phosphate. Your body converts phosphatidylcholine into choline. Choline supports cell structure in the following areas of your body:

Lecithin has been studied to treat various conditions, including but not limited to the following:

This article examines lecithin uses, sources, and evidence for its effectiveness. It also discusses possible side effects, dosage, and what to look for when buying lecithin supplements.

Lecithin is used in cooking as an emulsifier ; it helps stabilize ingredients that aren't easily mixed, like oil and water.

Two level tablespoons (15 g) of soya lecithin granules contained approximately the following nutrients:

The fats are primarily linoleic acid n-6 (LA), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).

Other lecithin products, like soybean lecithin oil, have a different nutrition profile. One tablespoon (13.6 g) of soybean lecithin oil contains the following:

Growing conditions can affect the amounts of a plant-derived product's fatty acids and phospholipids.

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Lecithin is not a single substance. It's a group of chemicals, including phospholipids (fat plus phosphate).

The following highlights research conducted using lecithin for specific conditions.

Researchers have looked into lecithin's effects on the following:

The results of the meta-analysis (collection of studies) suggested lecithin positively impacted self-reported memory issues. However, results for dementia treatment were unclear.

Another review suggested that choline may be somewhat helpful for cognitive impairment from a head injury. The phosphatidylcholine in lecithin, in part, breaks down to choline. However, further research is warranted regarding lecithin's specific effects.

Lecithin has been suggested to have anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular protective effects.

A small study found that 430 mg of soy lecithin daily significantly decreased total cholesterol and triglycerides in adult male rats. Larger, well-designed studies are needed to confirm these results.

Do not discontinue your prescribed medication without first discussing it with your healthcare provider. Before you add lecithin to your daily regimen, review the pros and cons with your healthcare provider.

Mastitis is an inflammation of breast tissue. It can occur in breastfeeding people. Clogged milk ducts can lead to mastitis.

Some studies have found that lecithin may treat or prevent clogged milk ducts. One source recommended taking 5 to 10 g of soy or sunflower lecithin a day to reduce inflammation in the milk ducts. However, further study is needed.

Before using lecithin or other supplements during breastfeeding, please speak with your obstetrician, child's pediatrician, or another healthcare provider.

Researchers used a high (1,200 mg per day) or low dose (600 mg per day) of soy lecithin or placebo for eight weeks in people undergoing menopause.

The group taking the higher dosage reportedly experienced the following:

More research is needed to confirm these results.

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is characterized by uncontrolled body movements and can be due to certain medications used to treat neurological (brain) conditions.

A number of older studies have examined the effects of lecithin on TD. The authors of a 14-study review, however, concluded that there isn't enough evidence to warrant further study of lecithin's effectiveness against TD.

Lecithin is believed to stimulate mucus production in the intestine. This may aid digestion and help protect the lining of your gastrointestinal system.

Lecithin is sometimes suggested for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, some limited research suggests that soy lecithin may increase the abundance of undesirable gut bacteria.

Larger, more well-designed studies are needed before lecithin can be recommended for digestion and IBS.

Some individuals with ulcerative colitis have low levels of phosphatidylcholine (also found in lecithin). Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affecting the large intestine. Scientists have suggested phosphatidylcholine supplementation may protect the colon from "bad" bacteria and inflammation. A meta-analysis (collection of studies) suggested 30% phosphatidylcholine-containing lecithin improved outcomes in people with ulcerative colitis.

A study gave participants either 0.8 g, 1.6 g, or 3.2 g of a supplement containing over 94% phosphatidylcholine-concentrated soy lecithin for 12 weeks. It suggested improvements in the Simple Clinical Colitis Activity Index, particularly in the group taking the 3.2 g supplement.

Further studies are needed to confirm these results.

Lecithin supplements are sometimes recommended for preventing and reducing gallstones.

However, the research supporting this use is limited to older studies and/or those with few participants.

More research must be done to understand if lecithin can help manage gallbladder disease.

Research suggested phosphatidylcholine could help prevent or reduce metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD, formerly known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). In MASLD, fat builds up in the liver.

Over time, MASLD can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver failure. 

However, phosphatidylcholine is one part of lecithin. The research for phosphatidylcholine or lecithin in liver disease is very preliminary. More research is needed to confirm these results.

Lecithin may help wounds heal faster. In one study, One animal study found that the free radical scavenging activities of soy and egg lecithin could help speed wound healing.  However, that evidence is insufficient as effects in animal studies don't necessarily translate into effects in humans. Further research with humans would be needed.

In most cases, lecithin supplements are safe, but side effects and possibly an allergic reaction can occur.

Ask your healthcare provider before taking lecithin or any other supplement. This is especially important if you:

Common side effects of lecithin include the following:

Vomiting has been a severe side effect of lecithin.

Seek immediate medical attention if you believe you have a side effect from lecithin.

Lecithin is generally considered safe at suggested doses. However, since it is possible to experience side effects, consult your healthcare provider before taking lecithin supplements.

Keep the following precautions in mind when using lecithin:

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

In studies, the following dosages were used for the following conditions:

Generally, never take more than the dose suggested on the label. Please consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions.

In one study, a daily dosage of up to 54 g of lecithin appeared to have no adverse effects.

However, seek immediate medical attention if you've ingested too much lecithin.

The following interactions may occur with lecithin:

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients are in the product and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

Supplements similar in action to lecithin include the following:

Lecithin comes in powder, oil, granule, capsule, and other forms.

Unlike prescription medications, dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States. This means the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed.

Choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as the following:

You can also look for products from manufacturers with current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs).

Note that even if supplements are third-party tested, it doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. These organizations certify that the supplement contains the ingredients on the label and test supplements for purity.

Talking to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and checking in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications is essential.

Lecithin contains phospholipids. It may be found in specific foods or taken as a supplement. It is said to aid in the function of the brain, nerves, and other organs.

Lecithin has been studied for its use in preventing or treating various health conditions. However, the evidence supporting its use for these conditions is weak; more studies are needed.

Lecithin is thought to be safe. Still, check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements. You may need to avoid it if you have chronic kidney disease due to potential phosphorous content.

Take the amount your healthcare provider or the label suggests. And look for products that have been tested for purity by a third party.

Robert C, Couëdelo L, Vaysse C, et al. Vegetable lecithins: A review of their compositional diversity, impact on lipid metabolism and potential in cardiometabolic disease prevention. Biochimie. 2020;169:121-132. doi:10.1016/j.biochi.2019.11.017

Bostock EL, Morse CI, Winwood K, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in immobilisation: Part A- Modulation of appendicular mass content, composition and structure. J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(1):51-58. doi:10.1007/s12603-016-0710-5

Dai Y, Tang H, Pang S. The crucial roles of phospholipids in aging and lifespan regulation. Front Physiol. 2021;12:775648. doi:10.3389/fphys.2021.775648

Food and Drug Administration. Lecithin.

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin K.

Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Lecithin.

Moré MI, Freitas U, Rutenberg D. Positive effects of soy lecithin-derived phosphatidylserine plus phosphatidic acid on memory, cognition, daily functioning, and mood in elderly patients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Adv Ther. 2014;31(12):1247-1262. doi:10.1007/s12325-014-0165-1

Roy P, Tomassoni D, Nittari G, Traini E, Amenta F. Effects of choline containing phospholipids on the neurovascular unit: A review. Front Cell Neurosci. 2022;16:988759. doi:10.3389/fncel.2022.988759

Javaid S, Farooq T, Rehman Z, et al. Dynamics of choline-containing phospholipids in traumatic brain injury and associated comorbidities. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(21):11313. doi:10.3390/ijms222111313

Alshammary SM, Khaleel LW. Protective role of soybean lecithin in reducing hypercholesterolemia and DNA fragmentation inducing by high cholesterol in adult male rats. Kufa J Vet Sci. 2018;9(1):35-45.

Mitchell KB, Johnson HM, Rodríguez JM, et al. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine clinical protocol# 36: the mastitis spectrum, revised 2022. Breastfeed Med. 2022;17(5):360-76. doi:10.1089/bfm.2022.29207.kbm

Hirose A, Terauchi M, Osaka Y, et al. Effect of soy lecithin on fatigue and menopausal symptoms in middle-aged women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J. 2018;17(1):4. doi:10.1186/s12937-018-0314-5

Tammenmaa-Aho I, Asher R, Soares-Weiser K, Bergman H. Cholinergic medication for antipsychotic-induced tardive dyskinesia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;3(3):CD000207. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000207.pub2

Stremmel W, Vural H, Evliyaoglu O, et al. Efficacy of enteric lecithin (phosphatidylcholine) in the treatment of ulcerative colitis: a meta-analysis. MMW Fortschritte der Medizin. 2022;164(Suppl 7):3-11. doi:10.1007/s15006-022-0832-0

Miclotte L, De Paepe E, Li Q, et al. Long term exposure of human gut microbiota with high and low emulsifier sensitivity to soy lecithin in M-SHIME model. bioRxiv. 2021:2021-12. doi:10.1101/2021.12.16.472798

Stremmel W, Vural H, Evliyaoglu O, Weiskirchen R. Delayed-release phosphatidylcholine is effective for treatment of ulcerative colitis: A meta-analysis. Dig Dis. 2021;39(5):508-515. doi:10.1159/000514355

Stremmel W, Vural H, Evliyaoglu O, et al. Delayed-release phosphatidylcholine is effective for treatment of ulcerative colitis: A meta-analysis. Dig Dis. 2021;39(5):508-515. doi:10.1159/000514355

Karner M, Kocjan A, Stein J, et al. First multicenter study of modified release phosphatidylcholine "LT-02" in ulcerative colitis: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial in mesalazine-refractory courses. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109(7):1041-1051. doi:10.1038/ajg.2014.104

Gaby AR. Nutritional approaches to prevention and treatment of gallstones. Altern Med Rev. 2009;14(3):258-267.

Maev IV, Samsonov AA, Palgova LK, et al. Effectiveness of phosphatidylcholine as adjunctive therapy in improving liver function tests in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic comorbidities: Real-life observational study from Russia. BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2020;7(1):e000368. doi:10.1136/bmjgast-2019-000368

Nasab ME, Takzaree N, Saffari PM, Partoazar A. In vitro antioxidant activity and in vivo wound-healing effect of lecithin liposomes: a comparative study. J Comp Eff Res. 2019;8(8):633-643. doi:10.2217/cer-2018-0128

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Choline.

Tuominen M, Karp HJ, Itkonen ST. Phosphorus-containing food additives in the food supply-An audit of products on supermarket shelves. J Ren Nutr. 2022;32(1):30-38. doi:10.1053/j.jrn.2021.07.010

Mourad AM, de Carvalho Pincinato E, Mazzola PG, et al.Influence of soy lecithin administration on hypercholesterolemia.Cholesterol.2010;2010:1-4doi:10.1155/2010/824813

Lordan R, Tsoupras A, Zabetakis I. Phospholipids of animal and marine origin: Structure, function, and anti-inflammatory properties. Molecules. 2017; 22(11):1964.

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement label database.

Food and Drug Administration. Current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) for dietary supplements.

By Regina C. Windsor, MPH, RDN Listen to yourself. Connect the dots. Find your people. Go have fun.

Thank you, {{}}, for signing up.

There was an error. Please try again.

Nutrition and Benefits of Lecithin

Perfluoropolyether Oil By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.