Table of Contents
- What Are They?
- May Prevent or Halt Alzheimer’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Improved Digestion and Absorption
- Does Lecithin Contain Any Nutritional Value?
- Where Can I Find Lecithin?
- Are There Side Effects I Should Worry About?
- Final Thoughts
You can find lecithin is your body, in plants and animals, and in commercially prepared products. It has many uses, and science continues uncovering multiple benefits for your overall health.
Plant-based lecithin has been around since the 1920s when Herman Bollmann received a patent for his unique extraction process. However, his methodology saw use in the food industry as a natural emulsifying agent and not a health supplement.
Let’s take a look at the therapeutic side of lecithins, and you can discover how they might improve your health and daily life.
What Are They?
They are fatty acid chains that when combined create a lecithin. The most common types are egg, soybean, animal fat-based, fish, corn, and sunflower lecithin. They also exist naturally in your body, such as your brain and stomach.
You might recognize the name from certain food and beauty aid labels. Companies use lecithin to stop ingredients from separating. Unfortunately, these product types generally won’t contain enough lecithin to provide a nutritional or topical healthful benefit.
What Are the Benefits of Taking It?
Other benefits might exist, but the above list covers scientifically studied benefits. Some areas might require more research. However, preliminary evidence suggests promise.
Does It Banish High Cholesterol and Lower Heart Disease Risks?
Cardiovascular diseases are often silent killers. High cholesterol is a major factor that raises your risk for a heart attack or stroke..
High cholesterol is one risk factor lecithin can assist in lowering. The majority of studies feature soy lecithin; however, we know sunflower-based varieties provide similar benefits, such as linoleic acid.
The above study lasted for two months. Participants saw a drastic drop in bad cholesterol in the first month, and their decline continued into the second.
May Heal and Soothe Inflamed Skin and Scalp Conditions
Eczema, dermatitis, and acne treatments vary widely.
With eczema, science and doctors are still unsure of exact causes and sure-fire treatments for the common condition. However, lecithin shows incredible promise with its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hormone regulating properties when you combine it with other ingredients.
Acne is another skin condition that lecithin might help. The consensus derives from sunflower lecithin’s ability to stabilize hormones. We need more clinical research for definitive answer.
Another possibility is lecithin’s ability to transport other vitamins and minerals through suspension, which greatly increases your skin’s ability to absorb and use them.
Is Lecithin Good for Hair Growth and Health?
It can be a good addition to your hair care routine. It supports overall hair health and cellular regeneration. Lecithin nourishes your scalp, reverses damage, and when used internally and topically, it assists in carrying other key nutrients throughout the body.
Let’s not forget lecithin is an antioxidant, which supports your body in fighting free radicals that lead to cancer, disease, and premature aging. Free radicals do affect the appearance of your hair and its health.
Despite being a fatty acid, lecithin is great for all hair types. Dry, brittle hair and certain scalp conditions might see more benefits from topical application.
May Prevent or Halt Alzheimer’s Disease
The choline present in lecithin is a necessary nutrient for cognitive health. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are a growing concern for many adults, and there might be a solid association between the diseases and choline deficiency.
Loss of your cholinergic neurons can lead to onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Scientists see a lack of these neurons in diagnosed cases, but we do need more research.
As of today, the results of one long-term study does show promise in improving cognitive function in both individuals with and without Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
May Reverse or Stop Bipolar Mania and Schizophrenic Episodes
Some research does show a benefit in using therapeutic doses of lecithin for mania related depression and panic disorders. Most studies have been small or individual case studies, but the overview of the science suggests promise as an alternative therapy.
One case study highlighted a 16-year-old boy with diagnosed bipolar disorder and insomnia. His manic periods were mild. He received a therapeutic dose over 14 months, and he saw vast improvement in his symptoms and the mild mania stopped.
The study used phosphatidylcholine, which you can find in lecithin. Scientists are unsure as to why it alleviated and reversed some of his symptoms. This isn’t a fluke. Similar studies repeat the same result for bipolar and schizophrenia.
Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Improved Digestion and Absorption
UC is the condition scientists are studying lecithin benefits on, but it might also improve irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive and absorption disorders.
Lecithin can improve the mucous present in your digestive system, according to studies. Mucus aids in digestion and safeguard’s your stomach lining. When dietary or supplement lecithin enters your digestive tract, it binds with and stabilizes your mucous.
That improved mucous barrier can halt or reduce the bacteria from causing inflammation. Scientists believe this same bond can help other digestive disorders with reduction of symptoms and improved vitamin and mineral absorption.
Does Lecithin Contain Any Nutritional Value?
Dietary and Supplement Sunflower Lecithin Will Provide You With:
Sunflower lecithin also enhances the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins, such as A and E.
Does Sunflower Lecithin Contain Omega-6?
Yes, it’s an excellent choice for omega-6 fatty acids. Its most notable contribution is linoleic acid, which aids in its heart-healthy properties we previously outlined. Whether you use sunflower oil or take a supplement, you will receive a healthy dose of omega-6 fatty acids along with omega-3.
Where Can I Find Lecithin?
You can find sources in nature, including plant and animal sources. For sunflower lecithin, sunflower seeds and oils have a variety of applications in a modern diet.
Many processed margarines, dressings, chocolates, and mayonnaises contain lecithins. Remember that you’re unlikely to see any direct health benefits from these products; companies add them for their ability to emulsify.
Aside from natural sources, a supplement form is the next best choice for daily use.
Replenishing your resources is necessary for overall healthfulness. Dietary choices derived from whole foods are the best source.
Is Sunflower Lecithin Better Than Soy Lecithin?
Nutritionally, they offer similar benefits. The hormones they effect is one area where you’ll find a difference. Sunflower lecithin doesn’t require a chemical extraction process to separate it like soy varieties do.
You also won’t have to worry about phytoestrogens, which soy lecithin contains; these can disrupt hormones. If you’re concerned about genetically modified ingredients, you would want to avoid soy too.
Post-menopausal and menopausal women could see more benefit from soy lecithin though. The phytoestrogen in soybeans could relieve or lessen menopause side effects, such as hot flashes.
Another reason to consider sunflower lecithin is allergic reaction. Soy, corn, fish, and egg are common allergens. Their supplements can promote a histamine production if you’re allergic or intolerant. Sunflower allergies are rarer.
How Much Lecithin Should I Take Daily?
No official maximum dose exists. However, doctors generally recommend staying under 2,400 mg/day or 1 to ½ tablespoons of powder, liquid, or granules to ward off side effects.
Consider exceeding the dose only with the guidance of your doctor or trained professional.
Are There Side Effects I Should Worry About?
Some adverse effects can occur in higher doses that exceed 5,000mg/day. Upset stomach and diarrhea are common complaints. Bloating is another uncomfortable side effect.
In rare cases, sunflower oil and seeds can cause an allergic reaction. This includes sunflower lecithin. If you experience swelling or hives, stop use and seek medical treatment.
Lecithin might lower your risk for stroke and heart disease. It can also help you lower bad cholesterol.
Supplemental doses can protect the brain from cognitive disorders such Alzheimer’s. It can also improve cognitive function in adults without it. Lecithin has the ability to reverse symptoms of mania in psychiatric disorders too.
If you have ulcerative colitis or another gastrointestinal disorder, lecithin might reduce the inflammation in your stomach and protect the lining.
It might reduce eczema inflammation and heal your skin. Other benefits include healthy scalp and possibly hair growth.
Sunflower lecithin carries less risk than other available sources. Side effects and allergies from therapeutic doses are few to none, and it has no known drug interactions.
The healthful benefits you can expect to see are broad, but the preliminary and finished studies show promise for heart, digestive, epidermal, and cognitive disorder benefits. The available science and safety make a great case for daily therapeutic use if you have these conditions or risk factors.
I am 34 years old and currently live in Landenberg, PA. I played many different sports growing up and also started lifting weights at age 12.
In my late teens I got heavy into drugs and ended up even being a heroin addict for a few years.
By my late twenties I finally found myself again, much to the credit of diet and fitness – it helped save my life!
Since overcoming drug and heroin addiction I’ve been able to totally rebuild myself in health, relationships and business. Much of that I credit to diet and fitness.
I now enjoy helping other people overcome addiction (and triumph it) with a project called “Project Unbroken” that myself and my good friend Matt started in early 2018. We share out story of addiction, bringing people through our addiction all the way to where we are now in life.
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