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Dietary Supplements 3rd Edition Lecithin

Dietary Supplements 3rd Edition Lecithin

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Published by Akira Strix

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Published by: Akira Strix on Oct 14, 2011
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Lecithin is a phospholipid and is known asphosphatidylcholine.
Lecithin is composed of phosphatidyl esters,mainly phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidyletha-nolamine,phosphatidylserineandphosphatidyl-inositol. It also contains varying amountsof other substances such as fatty acids,triglycerides and carbohydrates. One teaspoon(3.5g) lecithin granules provides on average:energy 117kJ (28kcal), phosphatidyl choline750mg, phosphatidyl inositol 500mg, choline100mg, inositol 100mg, phosphorus 110mg.
Human requirements
Lecithin is not an essential component of thediet. It is synthesised from choline.
Lecithin is a source of choline (see Choline)and inositol. It is an essential component of cellmembranes and a precursor to acetylcholine.
Dietary sources
Soya beans, peanuts, liver, meat, eggs.
About 50% of ingested lecithin enters thethoracic duct intact. The rest is degraded toglycerophosphorylcholine in the intestine, andthentocholineintheliver.Plasmacholinelevelsreflect lecithin intake.
Not established.
Possible uses
Lecithin is claimed to be beneficial in the treat-ment of disease related to impaired cholinergicfunction (see Choline). It has also been claimedto be of benefit in lowering serum cholesterollevels and improving memory. It is sometimestaken for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
An open clinical trial in the 1970s showedthat oral lecithin in large doses (20–30g daily)led to a significant reduction in cholesterolconcentration in one out of the three healthysubjects studied and three out of the sevenpeople with hypercholesterolaemia.
However, in a double-blind study, 20 hyper-lipidaemic men were randomised to receivefrozen yoghurt, frozen yoghurt with 20g soyabean lecithin or frozen yoghurt with 17g sun-flower oil. Sunflower oil was used to controlfor the increased intake in energy and linoleicacid from the lecithin. Lecithin treatment hadno independent effect on serum lipoprotein orplasma fibrinogen levels in this group of men.
Areviewof24papersexaminingtheeffectof consuming lecithin on serum cholesterol raisedconcern about the small size and lack of controlgroups in many of the studies. The authorsconcluded that there was no evidence for aspecific effect of lecithin on serum cholesterolindependent of its linoleic acid content orsecondary changes in food intake. The observedlecithin-inducedhypocholesterolaemiceffectsinthe studies were artefacts caused by the mannerand design of the data analysis, were mediated
by dietary changes or were due to the linoleicacid present in lecithin.
 Alzheimer’s disease
A double-blind, placebo-controlled crossoverstudyin11outpatientswithAlzheimer’sdiseasefound that lecithin 10g three times a day for3months was associated with an improvementin tests of learning ability, but there was noimprovement in any of the psychological testsused.
Two further double-blind studies (one inpatients with Alzheimer’s disease,
one innormal adults
) showed no effect of lecithin onmemory.Another double-blind RCT in 53 subjectswith probable Alzheimer’s disease involved theuse of lecithin and tacrine or lecithin andplacebo for 36weeks. No clinically relevantimprovement was found in any of the groupsover 36weeks.
A Cochrane review investigating the efficacyof lecithin in the treatment of dementia orcognitive impairment found 12 RCTs involvingpatientswithAlzheimer’sdisease(265patients),Parkinsonian dementia (21 patients) and sub-jective memory problems (90 patients). Notrials reported any clear benefit of Alzheimer’sdisease or Parkinsonian dementia. A dramaticresult in favour of lecithin was obtained ina trial of subjects with subjective memoryproblems. The authors concluded that evidencefrom randomised trials does not support theuse of lecithin in the treatment of dementia.A moderate effect could not be ruled out, butthey concluded that results from the small trialsto date do not indicate priority for a largerandomised trial.
Controlled clinical trials have provided noevidence that lecithin lowers cholesterol orhelps to improve memory in patients withAlzheimer’s disease. Claims for the valueof lecithin in lowering blood pressure andalso in hepatitis, gallstones, psoriasis andeczema are unsubstantiated. Further trialsare needed to assess the role of lecithin.
None known.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding
No problems have been reported, but therehave not been sufficient studies to guaranteethe safety of lecithin (in amounts greater thanthose found in foods) in pregnancy and breast-feeding.
 Adverse effects
None reported.
None reported.
Lecithin is available in the form of tablets,capsulesandpowder.Lecithinsupplementspro-vide between 20 and 90% phosphatidylcholine(depending on the product).The dose is not established. On currentevidence, lecithin is unlikely to be useful. Prod-uct manufacturers recommend 1200–2400mgdaily.
1 Simons LA, Hickie JB, Ruys J. Treatment of hyper-cholesterolaemia with oral lecithin.
Aust NZ J Med 
1977; 7: 262–266.2 Oosthuizen W, Vorster HH, Vermaak WJ,
et al 
.Lecithin has no effect on serum lipoprotein, plasmafibrinogen and macromolecular protein complexlevels in hyperlipidaemic men in a double-blindcontrolled study.
Eur J Clin Nutr
1998; 52:419–424.3 KnuimanJT,BeynenAC,KatanMB.Lecithinintakeand serum cholesterol.
Am J Clin Nutr
1989; 49:266–268.4 Etienne P, Dastoor D, Gauthier S,
et al 
. Alzheimerdisease: lack of effect of lecithin treatment for 3months.
1981; 31: 1552–1554.5 Brinkman SD, Smith RC, Meyer JS,
et al 
. Lecithinand memory training in suspected Alzheimer’s dis-ease.
J Gerontol 
1982; 37: 4–9.

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