Produced by the liver and an important component of the mucus layer in the large intestines, lecithin is composed of three types of fat-soluble molecules called phospholipids. These molecules are major building blocks for cell membranes and, along with cholesterol and triglyceride, help facilitate cell communication and keep cells from sticking to each other. Soybeans are rich in lecithin and are used in soy lecithin granules, a natural compound containing all the elements found naturally in cell membranes.
Liverdoctor.com says that controlled animal studies have shown lecithin to be beneficial in preventing alcoholic-induced cirrhosis. Cirrhosis occurs when chronic inflammation of liver cells causes extensive build-up of scar tissue, or collagen. Lecithin granules raise choline levels in the liver, which increases an enzyme effective in breaking down collagen. Because of lecithin's ability to emulsify and break down fat, it may also prevent fatty liver disease, a condition resulting from accumulation of fat deposits in liver cells.
Ingredients in soy lecithin granules are essential to nerve and muscle function, including the heart, and are contained in the sheath that covers every nerve and muscle cell in the body. Lecithin is an emulsifying agent that breaks down cholesterol and other fats, easing their removal from the body. This prevents build-up in artery walls, benefiting cardiovascular health and helping prevent atherosclerosis. A 2009 study, published in the journal "Cholesterol," showed that daily administration of soy lecithin significantly reduced total cholesterol and stimulated fatty acid secretion with high levels of cholesterol when compared with diets without lecithin.
When you consume lecithin or soy lecithin granules, it is broken down into the nutrient choline before entering cell membranes. Choline is used to make acetylcholine, a nerve chemical essential for proper brain function. Results of studies on the effectiveness of lecithin as an aid in human brain-related disorders and treatment for Alzheimer's, bipolar disorder and dementia have been inconclusive. However, a 2007 study, published by "CNS Drug Review," used a derivative of lecithin to examine the benefits for analgesia and Alzheimer's disease therapy and concluded the compound as a potential candidate for chronic use to treat Alzheimer-disease-related pathology.
Gallstones form in your gallbladder where bile is stored and released into your intestine to aid in digestion. Too much cholesterol can crystallize into stones. Lecithin is a major component of bile and helps breaks down fat by allowing it to mix with water, ensuring its quick elimination from the body. According to the Healthier Life website, increased risk of gallstones is related to age, weight, diet and hormonal changes. As many as 20 percent of people over 65 develop gallstones but only about 4 percent experience symptoms which can include pain in the upper right abdomen or back lasting several hours, nausea and vomiting.
- Lecithin Guide Info: Soya Lecithin: Its Composition
- Cholesterol: Clinical Study: Influence of Soy Lecithin Administration on Hypercholesterolemia
- Nutritional Supplement Education Center: Lecithin Supplements: What Can It Do For You?
- CNS Drug Review: DP-155, a Lecithin Derivative of Indomethacin, is a Novel Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drug for Analgesia and Alzheimer's Disease Therapy; Dvir E, et al.; 2007
- The Healthier Life: Dietary Advice To Help Lower Your Risk Of Gallstones
- Liverdoctor.com: Cirrhosis