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Lecithin

When medical researchers use the term “lecithin,” they are referring to a purified substance called phosphatidyl choline (PC). Supplements labeled as “lecithin” usually contain 10-20% PC. Relatively pure PC supplements are generally labeled as “phosphatidyl choline.” PC best duplicates supplements used in medical research. Choline by itself (without the “phosphatidyl” group) is also available in food and supplements. In high doses, however, pure choline can make people smell like fish, so it’s rarely used, except in the small doses found in multi-vitamin supplements. What do they do? PC acts as a supplier of choline. Choline is needed for cell membrane integrity and to facilitate the movement of fats in and out of cells. It is also a component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. For this reason, PC has been used in a number of preliminary studies for a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Where are they found? Choline, the major constituent of PC, is found in soy beans, liver, oatmeal, cabbage, and cauliflower. Egg yolks, meat, and some vegetables contain PC. Lecithin (containing 10-20% PC) is added to many processed foods in small amounts, for the purpose of maintaining texture consistency.