Q:

What effect does lecithin have and why?

A:

Quick Answer

When used to treat neurologic disorders and dementias, lecithin improves memory by increasing acetylcholine, or ACh, production, a substance that transmits nerve impulses. People who use it to treat liver disease accumulate less fat in the liver, WebMD claims.

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Full Answer

Lecithin is a fat derived from animal and vegetable sources. As lecithin is a source of choline, it stimulates ACh production in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in memory function. As such, it may improve memory retention in people with dementia disorders.

Patients also use lecithin to treat liver disease, WebMD adds. When used intravenously, it reduces fat accumulation in the liver. People may use lecithin to treat hypercholesterolemia. As it enhances cholesterol metabolism, lecithin reduces the amount of cholesterol present in the body. Some evidence suggests that this mechanism reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, although more research is needed to prove this.

Other uses include taking soy lecithin to support immunological functions, National Center for Biotechnology Information notes. The phosphatidylcholine in the product stimulates macrophages to increase their ability to phagocytise pathogens by 29 percent. More clinical evidence is needed to strengthen this claim.

Although there are usually no side effects from lecithin, some report gastrointestinal symptoms and hepatitis, according to Drugs.com. As of 2015, no contraindications have been noted, and there is a paucity of research with regard to its safety for use during pregnancy.

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