I realized I'd never actually read much on lecithin itself, though it's the major component of Lipo-C.
It turns out that Lecithin is super important in the body. Now in my personal level in the group of incredible-substances along with DMSO, Humic-Fulvic minerals, Castor Oil, Vitamin C and B3, and now Lecithin. (I think I forgot a couple things.)
Anyway, I put this together for my forum friends so it was organized (more readable). This is just a speed read excerpt to use for googling on things one may find interesting. No references.
LECITHIN: What it is
Lecithin was originally isolated in 1850 by Dr. Gobley from egg yolk. Named after the greek word Lekithos for that. In the late 1800s it was also spelled "lecithine" in English, a spelling that is still used in German to refer to the pure or chemical lecithin. One large egg can contain up to 2,000 mg of lecithin.
Lecithin is a necessary component of every cell in the human (and animal and vegetable) body, and is concentrated especially in the vital organs such as heart liver brain kidneys, and in cell membranes and nerve sheaths.
It has many critical functions in many parts of the body. Lecithin is comprised of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, choline and phosphorus. Components are the B vitamin choline, but also linoleic acid and inositol. Chemically, lecithin is phosphatidylcholine. Choline comprises about 15% of the weight of phosphatidylcholine.
The fatty acid makeups of phosphatidylcholine from plant and animal sources are different. Both sources are considered safe. In addition to animal vital organs, eggs and soybeans, lecithin can also be found in smaller measure in cabbage, cauliflower, garbanzo beans, split peas, organic meat, seeds and nuts.
Sunflower Lecithin Non-GMO Liquid cold-pressed is obtained by pressure extraction of sunflower seeds to produce raw oil. No solvents are used in the extraction process. The raw oil is then degummed with addition of water and centrifuged to produce liquid sunflower lecithin.
Commercially, "Lecithin" often refers to a natural mixture of neutral and polar lipids. It is heavily used in the food manufacturing industry. Commercial soy lecithin also typically contains roughly 30-35% unrefined soy oil. Phosphatidylcholine, which is a polar lipid, is present in commercial lecithin in concentrations of 20% to 90%. Most of the commercial lecithin products contain about 20% phosphatidylcholine. What is commercially called lecithin can be two-thirds other phospholipids.
European research has tended to use products concentrated to contain 90% phosphatidylcholine in lecithin, and their dosages are based on that type of product. For psychological and neurological conditions, doses as high as 5 to 10 g taken three times daily have been used in studies. For liver disease, a typical dose is 350 to 500 mg taken three times daily; for high cholesterol, 500 to 900 mg taken three times daily has been tried.
Lecithin dietary supplements come in three forms: Liquid (thick, syrupy), capsules and granules. All three contain the specific "phosphatidyl choline," but the granules contain the highest concentration of it. For the small-scale commercial lecithin, generally 1 tablespoon of liquid lecithin is equivalent to 1.5 tablespoons of granular lecithin.
(How the equivalency ref relates to the powder-is-stronger ref I can't say, they seem contradictory to me. - pjg)
Phosphatidylcholine is absorbed into the mucosal cells of the small intestine, mainly in the duodenum and upper jejunum, following some digestion by the pancreatic enzyme phospholipase. This forms Phosphatidylcholine which is transported in the blood in various lipoprotein particles. It is then distributed to the various tissues of the body.
Lecithin is a multi-functional surface-active agent. Each molecule has, like Janus, two faces. The fatty-acid portion of the molecule is attracted to fats (it is lipotrophic) and the phosphoric acid portion is attracted to water (it is hydrotrophic). Because of this dual nature, lecithin molecules tend to position themselves at the boundary between immiscible materials, such as oil and water. There they serve many useful functions through a surface modifying effect. In aqueous solution, lecithin's phospholipids can form either liposomes, bilayer sheets, micelles, or lamellar structures, depending on hydration and temperature.
THE BRAIN AND MEMORY
* Approximately 30% of your brain is composed of lecithin.
* In the brain, lecithin's choline is transformed into acetylcholine, a vital compound for the transmission of messages from one nerve to another. This has a direct and substantial effect on memory, thinking ability and muscle control.
* Choline is taken up directly by the brain and used almost at once to help the brain make acetylcholine. This means the amount of lecithin (phosphatidyl choline) furnished by each meal has a direct and almost immediate effect on the efficiency of the brain. Researchers found this surprising because it had long been believed that the blood-brain-barrier shielded the brain from such direct influences.
* Acetylcholine mediates our emotions and behavior and provides an important chemical bridge between nerve cells.
* ... 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."
* ... University of Montreal ... 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.
* ... 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."
* 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-cerebellas atrophy (wasting away of the brain), Alzheimer's disease (a mind destroying disease that starts with memory difficulties), and myasthenia gravis (progressive paralysis). Not all of these have research and some is contradictory but lecithin has been reported to help with issues related to acetylcholine deficiencies.
* Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that a daily supply of lecithin “improves brain chemical activity.” In particular, they found that lecithin affected brain activities such as learning, memory, motor coordination, sensory feedback, and sleep patterns. Studies showed “improvement of thinking and intelligence” as well as substantial improvement in the area of speech.
* The main source of energy for the brain comes from a combination of oxygen and glucose (sugar). For brain cells to function normally they must receive a constant supply of these nutrients. As areas of the brain become more active blood flow into and out of these areas increase. In addition to oxygen and glucose, the brain uses chemical compounds known as phospholipids. These phosopholipids make up the covering of nerve cells that assist in the transfer of information from cell to cell. Without phospholipids brain cell activity may become abnormal and cause problems in the nervous system. Certain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and brain tumors can affect blood flow to the brain and change the way the brain metabolizes phopholipids. In addition to diseases, changes in the brain occur with normal healthy aging. Lecithin's key elements can make a significant difference in many areas of the brain, beyond merely the acetylcholine element. Everything good it does for cells and membranes in the rest of the body applies to the brain as well.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL AND SLEEP ISSUES
* Helps improve anxiety and nervousness.
* Lecithin nourishes the nerves in the brain, alleviates their fatigue, activates brain cells, and improves symptoms like insomnia.
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM, NERVES & THEIR MYELIN SHEATH
* The human spinal cord contains 6-10% lecithin.
* Lecithin is found in your spine, in your nerves, and in all the muscles of your body.
* 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.
* Multiple sclerosis patients have significantly less lecithin in the brain and myelin sheath than normal persons. And, the lecithin that is present in the brain and myelin sheath of these people is essentially composed of all saturated fatty acids and no unsaturated fatty acids. (Note: lecithin sources such as eggs are more saturated and vegetable [e.g. soy, sunflower] sources are more unsaturated.]
* It is claimed by some that Lecithin will help heal and balance the frayed nerves that are present as a result of prolonged inflammation.
* “Lecithin is very calming to the nervous system,” says Dr. Bernard Rimland, Director of the Center for Autism Research in San Diego. Feingold used lecithin extensively in his supplemental program for children who were suffering with hyperactivity.
THE LIVER - FATS
* ~5% of the weight of the liver is lecithin.
* About 66% of the liver's natural fat is lecithin.
* Fatty liver can be caused by certain chemical compounds, nutritional or endocrine disorders, and by genetic factors. Drugs and chemical compounds that can cause fatty liver include alcohol, tetracycline, methotrexate, valproic acid, cortisone and cortisone-like medications, carbon tetrachloride, and other solvents. Of these, alcohol is by far the most common cause. Liver inflammation may accompany exposure to these toxins. Nutritional causes of fat in the liver include starvation, malnutrition, or obesity. Fat in the liver can also occur with rapid or extreme weight reduction such as might occur following an intestinal or gastric bypass operation for obesity. In some patients with fatty liver the fat is accompanied by inflammation (steatohepatitis), and occasionally the fat and inflammation may lead to scarring of the liver (fibrosis). The endocrine causes of fatty liver include diabetes mellitus, elevated cholesterol or triglycerides, and fatty liver of pregnancy. Fatty liver during pregnancy occurs near the end of pregnancy and may result in premature delivery or termination of the pregnancy.
* Lecithin speeds the flow of fats and cholesterol through the liver, preventing the buildup of fats, and helping it eliminate toxins.
(Trivia 1: L-carnitine may enhance fat metabolism by the liver also.)
(Trivia 2: I read a claim that steroids can actually cause fatty liver. Some hormones are steroids so even that could probably do it.)
THE LIVER - BILE
* Phosphatidylcholine (PC), part of lecithin, is one of the components of bile. It is required for normal transport of bile acids.
* Lecithin aids the bile in the blending effect on bile salts and bile components. Without lecithin, the proteins in bile separate out and form gallstones.
* Cholesterol is normally dissolved and kept in solution as a flowing liquid when there are adequate amounts of essential fatty acids. The melting point of solid cholesterol that one would find in the artery wall is 300 degrees F. When lecithin is present, such as in the biliary system, the melting point of cholesterol falls to 180 degrees F, but it is still insoluble without the addition of bile salts. The chemical structure of lecithin and the electrical charges it carries give it powerful detergent action. It is able to emulsify oils and hold them in solution. Lecithin is an important constituent of bile. It enables fats including cholesterol to be dispersed in water and removed from the body. When the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic are present in sufficient quantity, the melting point of cholesterol falls to 32 degrees, which is well below normal body temperature.
* Lecithin reduces plasma membrane disruption by hydrophobic bile salts. It may play a key role in preventing bile salt injury of biliary and gastrointestinal epithelia.
GALLBLADDER AND GALLSTONES (related to liver)
* 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.
* 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 case.
* Cholesterol and bile salts are in a delicate balance in bile and an absolute or relative increase of one over the other tends to result in stone formation. The detergent action of lecithin can prevent this stone formation.
THE LIVER - TOXINS, FIBROSIS, CIRRHOSIS
* Lecithin can accelerate the reproduction of liver cells for recovery from damage.
* Most liver metabolism occurs on cell membranes, which occupy about 33,000 square meters in the human. More than 2 decades of clinical trials indicate that PC protects the liver against damage from alcoholism, pharmaceuticals, pollutant substances, viruses, and other toxic influences, most of which operate by damaging cell membranes.
* Animals fed high alcohol diets develop liver cirrhosis without lecithin, but with supplementation cirrhosis does not occur.
* The human liver is confronted with tens of thousands of exogenous substances. The metabolism of these xenobiotics can result in the liver's detoxicative enzymes producing reactive metabolites that attack the liver tissue. Sufficient dietary supplementation with PC has been showed to significantly speed recovery of the liver.
* 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. "Humans who are fed intravenously with solutions that lack lecithin and choline start to have liver cell death," says Dr. Zeisel. "This can be reversed when you give them a lecithin or choline supplement."
* One form of choline, phosphatidylcholine (PC), seems to be particularly beneficial to the liver. In clinical studies, PC helped with alcoholic liver damage, cirrhosis, viral liver damage, and drug-induced liver damage. Animal research showed that PC supplementation was superior to any other treatment for alcohol-induced liver damage and cirrhosis. PC is found in small amounts in most lecithin supplements. Greater concentrations are available in supplements labeled PC or Leci-PC.
(Trivia: In addition to milk thistle and some other herbs [some say turmeric for example], supplements containing alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, and Omega 3 fatty acids are also cited by some physicians as being helpful to damaged liver.)
THE BLOODSTREAM - CHOLESTEROL
* 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.
* 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.
* 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.
* Studies in Japan showed consumption of 15-20g of lecithin lowered LDL-cholesterol up to 16%. | Lowers LDL-cholesterol. Raises HDL-cholesterol.
* Phosphatidylcholine occurs in all cellular organisms, being one of the major components of the phospholipid portion of the cell membrane.
* 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.
SKIN AND SCALP
* Lecithin increases the skin metabolism and disposal of toxin wastes.
* 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.
* It enhances absorption into the skin.
* Lecithin can be used topically to treat sunburns, minor skin irritations, scrapes, and to soften dry skin.
* Choline and Inositol in lecithin are the main nutrients for maintaining skin and hair health. [I didn't find much on this though. - PJ]
THE BLOOD SYSTEM
* Lecithin helps improve the elasticity of blood vessels.
* Lecithin protects red blood (and other) cells from oxidation (and removes superoxide, a ROS).
* Due to the effect of improved blood circulation and better cholesterol profile in the cardiovascular system, lecithin lowers high blood pressure.
* 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. Note: Human milk contains lecithin, but cow's milk does not.
* Lecithin can enhance the functions of hemoglobin.
BOWEL / DIGESTIVE TRACT
* Without sufficient lecithin, your body cannot utilize the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
* Lecithin in the digestive tract reduces bloating, hyperacidity and flatulence.
PANCREAS AND INSULIN
* The lack of lecithin can seriously decrease the functions of pancreas and affect the normal secretion of insulin.
* Lecithin also increases the excretion of blood sugar.
* Diabetics are generally found to have lower levels of lecithin in their body as compared to non-diabetics.
* Some diabetics' insulin requirements are often reduced or removed when sufficient lecithin is added to the diet.
* I found a variety of claims that sufficient lecithin intake would reduce or remove joint (e.g. knee) pain but nothing solid on this. - pjg
* Lecithin assists with some of the toxic waste disposals in the body.
* Reduces edema.
* Improves proteinuria in kidney patients.
* Test tube studies have shown that lecithin has the ability to restore normal structure and movement to abnormal sperm cells and nearly double the acrosomal response.
* Lecithin is involved in the availability of platelet activating factor (PAF). PAF is involved in reproduction in "three ways: 1) in implanting of the egg in the uterine wall, 2) in fetal maturation and 3) in inducing of labor.
* Lecithin is essential for the production of sperms and eggs.
* Reported to help in treating erectile dysfunction in males.
* La Leche League recommends its use to prevent blocked or plugged milk ducts which can lead to mastitis in breastfeeding women.
GENERAL - ENDURANCE
* Your heart (the hardest muscle to fatigue) has the highest lecithin content.
* 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.
* After (and during) strenuous exercise, choline levels drop in the body, and this drop is linked to fatigue. The lower choline levels result in lower acetylcholine, which means nerve impulses (the messengers that tell your muscles when to work) travel slower, leading to slower reaction times and even more fatigue. Research has shown that when runners take choline (not lecithin), they may shave 5 minutes off their times in a 20-mile course compared to placebo, and swimmers may also dramatically improve their performance.
* Reported to alleviate post-menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, headaches, depressions, dizziness, tiredness and insomnia.
* 1% of human body weight is made up by lecithin.
* The body's highest concentration of lecithin is found in the vital organs.
* ... [some researchers report that] proper functions in general are often attributed to a good amount of lecithin in the diet.
* Lecithin helps to metabolize (break down) excessive fat all through the body.
* Some claim the nutritional value of Lecithin is nearly equal to that of protein or that of vitamins.
* Egg-derived lecithin is not usually a concern for those allergic to eggs since commercially available Egg Lecithin is highly purified and devoid of allergy causing egg proteins.
* Egg lecithin is not a concern for those on low-cholesterol diets, because the lecithin found in eggs markedly inhibits the absorption of the cholesterol contained in eggs.
* A safe dose of lecithin is considered to be up to 30 grams per day. Some people taking high dosages (over 30 grams per day, normal weight humans) can experience side effects, such as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, anorexia (lack of appetite), a fishy body odor, and nausea.
Humorous note I found for college students: "A think drink: Mix 3 to 6 tablespoons of lecithin granules (or take capsules) with 1 tablespoon of vinegar (which is acetic acid) in a nonalcoholic beverage. Some brain cells combine these ingredients, to make acetylcholine, for your brain cells to communicate and remember with. More acetylcholine, means more memory available, since more cells are connected by more acetylcholine. Quicker thinking too. Proper nutrition and plenty of protein produces a powerful brain and premium peak performance. Alcohol will destroy the effect, since it depletes acetylcholine, causing less of it, and alcohol destroys brain cells that make it, which lowers your capacity to manufacture this important neurotransmitter."
So.... the best thing since reading on Vitamin C was reading on Lecithin. And conveniently, my homemade lipospheric C is both!
Constant caveat: I am not a scientist. For "real science" you should read articles by people with academic credentials, of which I have none.