Soy lecithin is a compound produced from soybean oil. Soy lecithin supplements may help decrease the symptoms of certain medical conditions and are often marketed commercially as a weight-loss aid. However, there is little reputable scientific evidence to indicate that using soy lecithin regularly has any beneficial effect on weight. Talk to your doctor about the possible drawbacks of making soy lecithin a part of your weight-management regimen and about other lifestyle changes that can contribute to enhanced health and sustainable weight loss.
Soy Lecithin, Fat Emulsifier
Lecithin is an essential part of the cell membranes of plants, animals and humans. It consists of phospholipids, fatty acids and triglycerides. These compounds give lecithin properties that make it useful as an emulsifying agent in medications and food products. Soy lecithin, derived from soybeans, is the most common commercial source of lecithin. Within the body, soy lecithin acts as a choline source for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and may stimulate the metabolism of cholesterol. Because of this, research studies have focused on soy lecithin as a possible treatment for dementia and high cholesterol and as a potential method for preventing atherosclerosis. Drugs.com reports that the studies have yielded conflicting results. More research is needed before soy lecithin can be recommended as a treatment for any condition.
Fat Chance on Weight Loss
Proponents of soy lecithin supplementation for weight loss claim that since lecithin is a natural fat emulsifier, consuming more of it can help prevent you from storing fat by allowing it to be eliminated from the body. However, Christine Lawhorn of the Vanderbilt University psychology department reports that no scientific evidence exists to support that soy lecithin can do this. Instead, Lawhorn warns that lecithin supplementation may contribute to weight gain, pointing out that one reported side effect of high lecithin intake is an increase in weight.
Supplement Side Effects
Soy lecithin supplementation can cause a number of other side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, bloating and abdominal pain. Additionally, regularly consuming doses larger than 3.5 grams may cause the same side effects as excessive choline supplementation: a sharp drop in blood pressure that can cause lightheadedness or fainting. There is no research to indicate that soy lecithin is safe to use if you are pregnant, nursing or taking prescription medications. Avoid using soy lecithin if you are allergic to soy products and stop using it immediately if you develop hives, facial swelling or difficulty breathing.
Soy lecithin supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are not checked for purity, effectiveness or safety. There is no evidence that long-term soy lecithin supplementation is safe, and insufficient research exists for health professionals to set appropriate doses. Soy lecithin does not appear to be harmful, but it most likely won't help you lose weight, relates registered dietitian Tara Gidus on Chow.com. Before using soy lecithin for weight loss, talk to your doctor about exercise and eating habits that may be more effective than soy lecithin in helping you achieve your weight goals.