Healthy Decisions for the Love of Health

Lecithin - New Super Food

Lecithin is a fat-like substance called a phospholipid. It is produced daily by the liver, if the diet is adequate. It is needed by every cell in the body and largely makes up cell membranes; without it, they would harden.

HealthSmart Nutrition's soy lecithin is a mixture of fatty substances that are derived from the processing of soybeans. Studies show most soy-allergic individual can safely eat products containing soy lecithin without experiencing any allergic reactions.

Soy Lecithin provides a naturally-occurring combination of Phosphatidyl Choline and other valuable phospholipids.

Just one tablespoon supplies a rich source of Choline (approx. 250 mg), almost as much as one egg, but without the cholesterol!

Lecithin is important in preventing arteriosclerosis and assisting in protecting against cardiovascular disease. Lecithin protects cells from oxidation, and helps make up the protective sheaths surrounding the brain.

Using lecithin can improve brain function and has also been known to promote energy. Lecithin is manufactured in the body by choline and inositol. It is composed largely of B vitamins, phosphoric acid, choline, linoleic acid and inositol. Lecithin is high in phosphorous and unites with iron, iodine and calcium.

W.S. Hartroff, M.D., Ph.D., reported in the American Journal of Public Health that the lack of choline was found to head infants toward high blood pressure. Furthermore, it has been found that a choline deficiency induced tendency to high blood pressure can not be reversed. Interestingly enough, human milk contains lecithin while cow’s milk does not.

Lecithin aids in the absorption of thiamine by the liver and is needed to help repair the damage to the liver caused by alcoholism.

Although it is a fatty substance, it is also a fat emulsifier—lecithin enables fats, such as cholesterol, to be dispersed in water and removed from the body. Hence, it also supports the circulatory system by preventing fatty buildup in the arteries and vital organs.

Without sufficient lecithin, the body cannot utilize the fat soluble vitamins A,D, E, and K. Lecithin improves the digestion and utilization of these vitamins.

When a person exercises regularly to improve their muscle tone, the amount of lecithin contained in the muscles increases. This increase in muscle lecithin is in part responsible for the greater endurance of the muscle.

Dr. H. Dietrich of Texas has found that often a diabetic''s insulin requirements are reduced when lecithin is added to the diet.

Psoriasis is apparently due, at least in part to a faulty utilization of fat and is usually accompanied by a high cholesterol level. Generally, with 3 to 5 tablespoons of lecithin granules per day cholesterol goes down and psoriasis clears up.

At Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, Dr. David A. Druling found that in patients with gallstones, gallstone attacks were cut in half by taking 13 grams of lecithin a day (a tablespoonful is 7.5 grams). Also, the size of gallstones were greatly reduced in one patient.

Researcher Lehninge, in his book ''Biochemistry,'' found that proper function of the sex glands and improved sexual function in general are often attributed to a good amount of lecithin in the diet.

Choline assists detoxification reactions in the liver. Although choline can be synthesised by the body from methionine, recent evidence indicates that choline is an essential nutrient.

Many of choline's effects have a lot more to do with digestion than with brain function. Yet there are components of lecithin that seem to play a critical role in nerve function - and our brains, of course, are nothing more or less than elaborate, busy nerves making interesting connections.

Lecithin forms naturally in all living cells of the body, and acts as an emulsifier. It helps keep fatty substances in bile, which is essentially a kind of juice produced by your liver. When lecithin is doing all it should, it also eases digestion and helps your body absorb valuable nutrients.

Lecithin also helps to maintain the structural integrity of cells, says Steven Zeisel, MD, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. ''Without lecithin, nothing would survive, because you wouldn''t be able to separate the various compartments within cells, nor would you be able to separate cells from each other.''

Lecithin also serves as a source of messengers used to help control blood pressure and regulate insulin, the all-important hormone that helps unlock cells so that blood sugar can be absorbed for energy. Without lecithin - derived messengers helping to co-ordinate these activities, many cells would be at a loss about what to do. ''You wouldn''t have the ability to send proper signals,'' notes Dr. Zeisel. ''Everything would grind to a halt.''

Multiple sclerosis patients have significantly less lecithin in the brain and myelin sheath than normal person. The autopsies also show that the lecithin that is present in the brain and myelin sheath of these multiple sclerosis victims is essentially composed of all saturated fatty acids and no unsaturated fatty acids. Multiple sclerosis is also known to have a much higher incidence in countries where the diet is high in saturated fats.

The liver exports fat. To do that, it must wrap the fat in an envelope containing lecithin and certain proteins. When lecithin is unavailable, no envelope can be made, and fat accumulates in the liver. Liver cells low in lecithin fill up with fat and then die. Closely related to the way lecithin benefits the liver is the way it helps to prevent gallstones.

Lecithin granules are 97% pure phospholipids. Often referred to as oil-free lecithin, lecithin granules have essentially all the natural soybean oil removed from them. This is the only form of Lecithin that does NOT contain Lecithin Liquid. Lecithin can be mixed with any foods consumed as a nutritional supplement. It has a mild nutty flavor. One tablespoon of lecithin granules provides about 50% of the new (DRI) Dietary Reference Intake Level for choline. These pure Lecithin granules are the type we have available. 

Other Types of Lecithin Supplements

Granules made of Soy Flour and Liquid Lecithin. (sometimes referred to as Soy Lecithin Granules) 

A little liquid lecithin (soy oil containing lecithin) is mixed with soy flour. Basically liquid lecithin (containing only 10% phosphatidylcholine) is added back to the soybean it was extracted from. This product is then extruded and looks like a small rabbit pellet about the size in diameter of a cake decorating sprinkle. It contains only 3% phosphatidylcholine

Note to the savvy consumer: Real lecithin granules contain NO protein at all. If Protein is listed as an ingredient on the label, you are looking at an imitation product made from soy flour and liquid lecithin. The ingredient statement for REAL lecithin granules is naturally simple: Lecithin. Don't be mislead by this product.

Liquid Lecithin (soy oil containing lecithin)

This is the first form of lecithin, it has a 37% triglyceride level. The oil part! It contains only 10% of the essential phosphatidylcholine, the lecithin part. Many people with high cholesterol also have high triglyceride levels and do best to supplement their diets with lecithin granules without the high triglyceride levels of liquid lecithin.

Lecithin Capsules (soy oil containing lecithin)

These contain lecithin liquid. Most contain only 10% of the essential nutrient phosphatidylcholine. One tablespoon of lecithin granules provides the same amount of choline as 10 large soft gel lecithin capsules (30 small size), and provides about 50% of the new DRI. It is important to remember that these have a 37% triglyceride level.

Lecithin Tablets

If made of pure lecithin you would need to consume 20 to 60 tablets to get 100% of the recommended Dietary Reference Intake of choline. Central Soya has determined through lab tests that pure lecithin tablets will not dissolve and be assimilated by the body. To put lecithin in a tablet form  the tablet must contain a high percentage of dispersants. This increases the amount of tablets needed to consume for your full recommended Dietary Reference Intake of Choline.

Lecithin in Food

Lecithin is a naturally-occurring group of phospholipids that's found in nearly every living cell. Though the word lecithin is derived from the Greek "lekithos", which means "yolk of an egg," the primary commercial source of lecithin comes from the soybean. It is commonly referred to as soya or soy bean lecithin.

Lecithin Information

.IT' S CRITICAL TO CORONARY HEALTH & BRAIN AND NERVE FUNCTIONING

Approximately 30% of your brain is composed of lecithin. Of the insulating and protective sheaths that surround your brain, spine, and thousands of miles of nerves, lecithin accounts for two- thirds of their composition; and of all the muscles in your body, your heart - the hardest muscle to fatigue - has the highest lecithin content.

Lecithin is a nutrient compound which was first isolated from egg yoke in 1850 by Maurice Bobley. Since that time, it has been shown to be present in many foods. Soybeans and other legumes, grains, wheat germ, brewers yeast, and fish, as well as egg yokes are all good sources of lecithin.

Biochemically speaking, lecithin belongs to a group of nutrients known as lipids (fats, oils, waxes) and is a phospholipid called phosphatidyl choline. It is important to note that since what is commercially called lecithin is actually only one-third true lecithin. The other two-thirds is made up of other phospholipids.

It was twenty five years ago, in 1958, that Dr. Lester M. Morrison, director of a research unit at Los Angeles County General Hospital, first published (Geriatrics, January, 1958) his findings that lecithin could be used to lower cholesterol levels. In fact, Dr. Morrison reported that "lecithin was found to be the most effective cholesterol lowering agent tested.." He reported that 80% of his patients suffering from high serum cholesterol levels showed an average decrease of 41% in serum cholesterol after taking lecithin for several weeks.

Instead of "blocking" absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract as other cholesterol reducing agents did, lecithin enhanced the metabolism of cholesterol in the digestive system and aided in its transport through the circulatory system. The lecithin acted as an emulsifier and broke down the fats and cholesterol in the diet into tiny particles and held them in suspension, preventing them from sticking to blood platelets or arterial walls. It is when fats are not properly emulsified, that they become "sticky" and this is the major cause of blood clots, atherosclerosis, and coronary thrombosis. Interestingly enough, researchers have since demonstrated that atherosclerosis (blockage of the arteries) can be induced in the laboratory by either increasing the cholesterol introduced into the body or by decreasing lecithin intake.

Researchers Adams and Morgan have also shown that lecithin from a vegetable source (soybeans) is more effective than lecithin from an animal source (eggs) in accelerating the re-absorption of cholesterol back into the blood stream that has adhered to the walls of blood vessels and caused blockage.

This difference is attributed to the fact that lecithin from animal sources contains high amounts of saturated fatty acids, while lecithin from vegetable sources are about 80% unsaturated fatty acids.

Another researcher, Dr. William Delamater, reported that in older people, if sufficient lecithin was present in the blood, the blood fat level returned to normal in about three hours after a high fat meal. But, if there wasn't sufficient lecithin in the blood, fat and cholesterol levels remained high for as long as twenty hours.

Most research studies using lecithin to lower cholesterol levels have been done using 3-5 rounded tablespoons of lecithin granules daily. After a period of three to four months, significant reduction in serum cholesterol is usually observed.

Perhaps the most interesting new findings on lecithin concern its connection with the functioning of the brain and nervous system.

Besides being an important factor in controlling cholesterol levels and aiding coronary health, lecithin is involved in a myriad of body functions. Every cell of your body contains lecithin. Lecithin is responsible for maintaining the surface tension of the cell membrane. It therefore controls what goes in and out of each cell, allowing nutrients in, or wastes out. Without enough lecithin, the cell wall hardens, thus not allowing enough nutrients in or wastes out. This means premature aging of cells. The surface tension of the cell maintained by lecithin is also responsible for transmitting nerve impulses and messages through or from the cell.

Perhaps the most interesting new findings on lecithin concern its connection with the functioning of the brain and nervous system. A key factor in proper brain and nerve transmissions is the presence of cellular substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine deficiencies are linked with the neurological disorders tardive dyskinesia (involuntary facial grimaces and body jerking), Huntington's chorea (the disease that killed Woody Guthrie). Friedrich's ataxia (speech impairment, irregular movements, and paralysis), olivaponto-cerebellasatrophy (wasting away of the brain), Alzhemer's disease (a mind destroying disease that starts with memoiy difficulties), and myasthenia gravis (progressive paralysis).

Until as recently as six years ago, medical researchers were using choline chloride to help their patients who suffered from these insidious brain disorders to produce more acetylcholine in their bodies. However, in 1977, Dr. Richard Wurtinan and his colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that lecithin (which contains phosphatidyl choline) increased serum choline levels more than three times as much as the previously used choline chloride and kept those levels raised more than three times as long. This meant that researchers had found a way to significantly raise acetylcholine levels in their patients since acetylcholine production in the brain was dependent on serum choline levels.

Dr. Wartman's research further astounded the medical community by showing that choline was taken up directly by the brain and used almost at once to help the brain make acetylcholine. This meant that the amount of lecithin (phosphatidyl choline) furnished by each meal could have a direct and almost immediate effect on the efficiency of the brain. Researchers found this so surprising because it had long been believed that the so called blood/brain barrier shielded the brain from such direct influences by nutrients and substances that are excessive or lacking in the day-to-day diet. Only a few substances such as alcohol or powerful drugs were thought to be able to cross this barrier.

Dr. Allen Cott, A New York City Psychiatrist states, "I learned from the work being done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other places that giving 14 grams of Lecithin a day, two heaping tablespoons, just about the best thing you can do for memory."

Scientists soon found to their delight that taking lecithin produced no negative side effects as did other remedies prescribed for brain dysfunctions. One researcher, Dr. Barbeau, at the University of Montreal reported that patients suffering from olivoponocelebellar atrophy (wasting away of the brain) showed a 30% improvement" after only two months of taking 24 grams of lecithin daily.

Additional Findings on Lecithin's
Interaction in the Body

* Without sufficient lecithin, your body cannot utilize the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. By adding an adequate amount of lecithin to your diet, you could improve your digestion and utilization of these vitamins by 100% or more if your diet is now deficient in lecithin.

· When a person exercises regularly to improve their muscle tone, the amount of lecithin contained in the muscles increases. This increase in muscle lecithin is in part responsible for the greater endurance of the muscle.

· Dr. H. Dietrich of Texas has found that often a diabetic's insulin requirements are reduced when lecithin is added to the diet.

· The importance of lecithin to the functioning of the body can be realized in the fact that during starvation, when body fat and protein are being broken down for energy, the lecithin in the body is not used for energy except as a very last resort.

· Autopsies show that multiple sclerosis patients have significantly less lecithin in the brain and myelin sheath than normal persons. The autopsies also show that the lecithin that is present in the brain and myelin sheath of these multiple sclerosis victims is essentially composed of all saturated fatty acids and no unsaturated fatty acids. Multiple sclerosis is also known to have a much higher incidence in countries where the diet is high in saturated fats.

· Psoriasis is apparently due, at least in part, to a faulty utilization of fat and is usually accompanied by a high cholesterol level. Generally, with 3 to 5 tablespoons of lecithin granules per day cholesterol goes down and psoriasis clears up.

· At Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, Dr. David A. Druling found that in patients with gallstones, gallstone attacks were cut in half by taking 13 grams of  lecithin a day (a table spoonful is 7.5 grams). Also the size of gallstones were greatly reduced in one patient.

· Researcher Lehninge, in his blood Biochemistry, found that proper functions in general are often attributed to a good amount of lecithin in the diet.

· Bile, produced in the liver, is stored in the gallbladder. This bile is comprised mostly of bile acids, lecithin, and cholesterol, and it is necessary in fat metabolism. If sufficient lecithin is not present in the bile, the cholesterol forms gallstones.

· Cirrhosis of the liver is no longer a disease of the heavy drinker only. Being the body's waster disposal plant, many toxic materials, like food additives, preservatives, insecticides, growth hormones, etc., all pass through the liver. Lecithin and good general nutrition readily reverses liver damage.

· Dr. Allen Cott, a New York City psychiatrist states, "I learned from the work being done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other places that giving 14 grams of lecithin a day, two heaping tablespoons, is just about the best thing you can do for memory." Dr. Cott also used lecithin to improve concentration and recall in learning disabled children, most of whom are either schizophrenic or autistic. "Clinical observations indicate about a 50% improvement, "Dr. Cott added.

· W.S. Hartroff, M.D., Ph.D., reported in the American Journal of Public Health that the lack of choline was found to head infants toward high blood pressure. Furthermore, it has been found that a choline deficiency induced tendency to high blood pres sure can not be reversed. Interestingly enough, human milk contains lecithin while cow's milk does not.

Nutrition Overview

One of the many healthful components of soybeans, lecithin and its primary component, choline, are believed to play essential roles

  • in cardiovascular health, l

  • iver and cell function,

  • fat transport,

  • reproduction and child development,

  • physical performance during endurance activities,

  • cell-to-cell communications (cell signaling),

  • possibly in memory.

In fact, the science on lecithin and choline nutrition is so compelling for long term health that it is now established that  choline is an essential nutrient.

Nutritionists define an essential nutrient as a substance required but not made in adequate amounts by the body. Therefore, it must be obtained from the diet. Proof that a nutrient is essential usually involves showing a deficiency disease when the nutrient is withheld from the diet. For example, humans can make some niacin but not enough to prevent pellagra. Therefore, niacin is an essential nutrient for humans and must be obtained from our diet. Science Daily Research News.

Where Does Lecithin Come From?

Soybeans SoybeanLecithin can be found in a wide variety of foods. Nature puts it there as a natural emulsifier. Unfortunately, many of the richest sources of lecithin are also high in cholesterol and fat. For example, egg yolks and meats are good sources of lecithin. Grains, fruits and vegetables are much poorer sources. Because many people have decreased consumption of fatty foods, their intake of lecithin may be inadequate.
Lecithin is also used in foods and in industry because it has very special properties. Did you know that over 99% of the lecithin used commercially comes from soybeans?

The lecithin is removed from soybean oil by injecting the oil with water, and then separating the lecithin-water mixture from the oil in a centrifuge (like the spin cycle in your washing machine), and drying the lecithin. Lecithin Granules

 

Choline Recommended Dietary Allowances

For the first time, the Food and Nutrition Board, the group within the National Academy of Sciences that sets Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals, has officially recognized the substance choline as an important nutrient.

On April 7, 1998 the Board announced new Dietary Reference Intake levels (DRI) of choline and a number of B vitamins. The Board recommends 425 mg of choline daily for adult women and 550 mg for adult men. Because of a high requirement for choline in growing fetuses and infants, they recommend intakes of 450 and 550 mg for pregnant and lactating women, respectively.

The Board's report comments on the role of choline in liver and heart health, pregnancy and child development, exercise and other health issues.

Why All The Interest In Lecithin?

Lecithin is the main source of choline in the diet occurring widely in a variety of foods. Unfortunately, the richest sources of lecithin also tend to be high in fat and cholesterol, such as eggs and organ meats. Lecithin supplements are the best and most bio-available way to get supplemental choline! In fact, taking granular lecithin provides a "timed release" form of choline, raising blood choline levels higher and for longer periods of time than equivalent amounts of choline chloride or other choline salts. 

 

 

How do you use Lecithin?

Ways to Use and Take Lecithin

Lecithin dietary supplements come in three forms: Liquid (thick, syrupy), capsules and granules. All three contain phosphatidyl choline, but the granules contain the highest concentration of it. It is best to take your lecithin supplement with meals since it will act synergistically with other nutrients.

All lecithin mixes well with peanut butter, tahini, spreads and sauces. Since it is an emulsifier, it will make whatever you mix it with smoother and creamier. People may find the oil naturally contained in liquid lecithin and lecithin capsules aggravates complexion problems. They should use lecithin granules. Soy Lecithin has a natural, nutty taste so you can enjoy Lecithin as a daily food supplement in many different ways…Sprinkle it on cottage cheese, yogurt, granola or cereal. Blend it with orange juice or your favorite nutrition beverage. Add it to fresh salads, fruit or mix with salad dressings. Use it to enhance soups, breads or other baked goods.  It also adds a little texture to sauces and spreads. When possible, add the lecithin after the cooking is finished to help preserve the nutrients naturally present in lecithin.

Whatever form of lecithin you decide to take, be assured that you are helping both your body and mind to be at their best.

 

 Copyright © 2005 HealthSmart Nutrition. All rights reserved.
Revised: May 21, 2006

 

 

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