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Lecithin

Medically reviewed: June 7, 2018

What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is found in many animal and vegetable sources, including beef liver, steak, eggs, peanuts, cauliflower, and oranges. Commercial sources for lecithin may come from soybeans, egg yolk, or brain tissue.

Scientific Name(s)

1,2-diacyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine

Common Name(s)

Lecithin, lecithol, vitellin, kelecin, granulestin

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical

Lecithin originated from the Greek lekithos, referring to egg yolk. Lecithin was discovered in 1805 and has been proposed for use in treating liver ailments, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, and nerve diseases, as well as in the food processing industry. Lecithin is a common compound found in cells of all living organisms; it is required for proper biological function.

General uses

Lecithin is used for binding things together that do not naturally bind in the food, drug, and cosmetic industries. Proposed drug use of lecithin includes treatment for high levels of cholesterol in the blood, nerve disorders, manic disorders, and liver ailments. However, no quality clinical trials exist to support lecithin's use for these indications.

What is the recommended dosage?

Studies of lecithin in mental impairment have used a wide variety of doses, from 1 to 35 g daily. In a study of patients with bipolar disorder, 10 mg given 3 times daily improved symptoms of mania.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Adverse effects usually are not associated with lecithin. However, there have been reports of anorexia, nausea, sweating, increased salivation, other GI effects, and hepatitis.

Toxicology

Information regarding toxicology with the use of lecithin is limited.

References

1. Lecithin. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; November 2013.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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