When medical researchers use the term “lecithin,” they are referring to a purified substance called phosphatidyl choline (PC) that belongs to a special category of fat-soluble substances called phospholipids.
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
500 mg choline per day
Choline appears to protect against neural tube defects when taken prior to and early in pregnancy, as it has similar biochemical effects as folic acid.
In a preliminary study of California mothers, those who had higher intakes of during the three months prior to conception were significantly less likely to give birth to a child with an NTD, compared with women with lower choline intakes. The possibility that choline may protect against NTDs is plausible, as choline has similar biochemical effects as folic acid, which is known to reduce NTD risk.
500 mg per day
Taking lecithin supplements may be a useful way to lower cholesterol.
is a phospholipid-rich compound from plants that often contains large amounts of phosphatidylcholine. Soy-derived lecithin is widely used in the food industry as an emulsifier. Some research shows lecithin from plant oils, such as soy and sunflower oils, may reduce cholesterol levels by decreasing absorption and increasing excretion of cholesterol. In a placebo-controlled trial in 30 people with high cholesterol levels, those given 500 mg of soy lecithin daily had a 42% reduction in total and 56% reduction in LDL-cholesterol levels while those given placebo had no significant reductions in cholesterol levels after two months. However, another placebo-controlled trial in 20 men with high cholesterol levels found 20 grams of lecithin daily for four weeks had no impact on cholesterol levels.
2 grams daily choline or 34 grams daily lecithin
Choline has been shown to lower homocysteine levels.
Betaine (trimethylglycine) (6 grams per day) and (2 grams per day) have each been shown to lower homocysteine levels. Choline in the amount of 2.6 grams per day (provided as 34 grams per day of soy lecithin) has also been shown to lower homocysteine levels in a double-blind trial. More recently, 1.5 grams of betaine per day, an amount similar to that in a typical diet, also has been found to lower homocysteine levels. Doctors usually consider supplementation with these nutrients only when supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 do not reduce homocysteine levels sufficiently. The results of this study, however, point to the potential benefit of increasing one’s intake of foods rich in betaine (such as whole wheat, spinach, beets, and other plant foods).
25 grams lecithin twice a day, providing 35 grams of phosphatidyl choline per day
Lecithin and phosphatidyl choline may help improve symptoms.
and have both been used for people with TD. While some studies have shown a beneficial effect, others have reported variable improvement or no improvement. In a small, two-week, double-blind trial, people with TD were given 25 grams of lecithin twice a day (providing 35 grams of phosphatidyl choline per day), or a matching placebo. All participants experienced significant improvement of symptoms.
Refer to label instructions
Weak evidence suggests that moderate amounts of lecithin, a fat used by the body to build membranes that may be obtained through food sources, may slightly improve symptoms.
A double-blind trial of 20 to 25 grams per day of failed to produce improvements in mental function in people with Alzheimer’s disease. However, there were improvements in a subgroup of people who did not fully comply with the program, suggesting that lower amounts of lecithin may possibly be helpful. Lecithin supplementation has also been studied in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor drug called tacrine, with predominantly negative results.
Refer to label instructions
Phosphatidylcholine (PC)—a purified extract from lecithin—is a component of bile that helps protect against gallstones. Supplementing with it may help dissolve gallstones
(PC)—a purified extract from —is one of the components of bile that helps protect against gallstone formation. Some preliminary studies suggest that 300–2,000 mg per day of PC may help dissolve gallstones. Some doctors suggest PC supplements as part of gallstone treatment, though the supporting research is weak.
Refer to label instructions
Taking phosphatidylcholine (found in lecithin) was found to be beneficial in one study of people with chronic hepatitis B.
Taking 3 grams per day of (found in lecithin) was found to be beneficial in one investigation of people with chronic hepatitis B. Signs of liver damage on biopsy were significantly reduced in this trial.
How It Works
How to Use It
Small amounts of choline are present in many B-complex and multivitamin supplements.
Where to Find It
Choline, the major constituent of PC, is found in soybeans, liver, oatmeal, cabbage, and cauliflower. Soybeans, egg yolks, meat, and some vegetables contain PC. Lecithin (containing 10–20% PC) is added to many processed foods in small amounts for the purpose of maintaining texture consistency.
Although choline deficiencies have been artificially induced in people, little is known about human deficiency in the real world.
Best Form to Take
Commercially available forms of choline include choline chloride and choline bitartrate. There is no clear evidence that choline chloride is more effective than choline bitartrate as a supplement, or vice versa.1
Phosphatidylcholine and lecithin (which contains phosphatidylcholine) are also sources of choline. Taking lecithin has been shown to produce relatively greater and more sustained levels of choline than choline itself. However, choline makes up only a certain percentage of both lecithin and phosphatidylcholine, so relatively large amounts of these substances are needed to deliver therapeutic amounts of choline.2
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
The body uses both PC and pantothenic acid to form acetylcholine.
Interactions with Medicines
With several grams of choline per day, some people will experience abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, or nausea. Supplementing choline in large amounts (over 1,000 mg per day) can lead to a fishy body odor. PC does not have this effect. Depression has been reported as a side effect in people taking large amounts of choline, such as 9 grams per day.
Last Review: 03-24-2015
Copyright © 2023 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.
The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2023.