Nutrition & Supplement :: Using Lecithin Supplements
In recent years, lecithin has received much attention on its being a possible treatment for a variety of illnesses, including high cholesterol, heart problems, Alzheimer's disease, and memory loss. Not only that, but manufacturers of lecithin supplements are also marketing the compound as an aid to weight loss. But is there some basis to all this?
First, we examine what the compound lecithin is. Generally speaking, lecithin refers to a complex mixture of phosphate acids naturally found in foods that we eat, including soybeans, egg yolk, wheat germ, grape seed, and virtually every plant and animal. The compound acts as an emulsifier, maintaining the fats in bile and easing digestion to help the body better absorb valuable nutrients.
However, when scientists speak of lecithin, they generally mean the compound element phosphatidyl choline or PC. Phosphatidyl choline is s vital component in the formation of cell membranes and cell walls, which play a role in facilitating the movement of fluids in and out of the cell. Professor and chair of the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill Steven Zeisel, M.D., Ph.D. says that lecithin also helps to maintain the structural integrity of cells.
He explains, "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."
When phosphatidyl choline enters the body, it turns into choline, an essential nutrient. The claims revolving around lecithin supplement can all be traced back to this element - choline. As an essential nutrient, choline cannot be manufactured inside the body. In order to get our supply of it, we must turn to our daily diet and supplements such as lecithin supplement.
Choline is very important because it is one of only two nutrients needed by the liver to promote the breakdown of fats. The other nutrient is methionine, an essential amino acid.
Choline is a lipotropic agent. As such, it promotes or encourages the export of fat from the liver. If you want to keep your liver healthy and capable of burning the exported fat for additional energy, then taking in lecithin supplements may help to keep up your daily supply of choline.
Lecithin supplements prevent fats and bile to become trapped in the liver, which could happen if you do not have enough supply of lipotropics, such as choline in your body. This in turn could cause severe problems, including cirrhosis of the liver and blocking of fat metabolism, which could lead to atherosclerosis and high blood cholesterol.
Choline in lecithin supplements functions as a methyl donor. It is required for proper liver function as it assists in detoxification reactions that normally occur in the liver.
The Best Source of Choline
The best source of choline is still a healthy and well-balanced diet that includes lecithin-rich foods. However, one cannot expect everyone to get enough supply of choline. To answer for whatever is lacking in your choline levels, lecithin supplements are there for that purpose.
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