What Is Lecithin Good For?

Lecithin is a fatty substance found in plants and produced naturally in your body. You can consume lecithin from both plant and animal sources and from lecithin supplements. Your body requires lecithin to function properly, and as such, lecithin serves several important functions that contribute to your overall health.

Soybeans growing in a field. Credit: jxfzsy/iStock/Getty Images

Sources of Lecithin

Many plants produce lecithin, including the soy plant, from which you can extract soy lecithin. Your body also naturally produces lecithin in the liver. However, according to the "Lecithin Book," you should still obtain lecithin from the foods you eat on a daily basis to maintain optimal health. However, many individuals do not consume sufficient levels of lecithin through diet and require supplementation. You can find lecithin supplements in both capsule and liquid form.

Essential for Cell Production

According to "Human Physiology: The Mechanisms of Body Function," as a phospholipid, your cell membranes require lecithin to function properly. Furthermore, developing fetuses require lecithin, and many doctors recommend lecithin supplements to pregnant women as part of a prenatal vitamin regimen. Lecithin also facilitates the entry of nutrients into existing cells.

Uses of Lecithin

Your liver not only produces lecithin, but also requires it to function properly. In your liver, according to "Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine," lecithin helps prevent the scarring and cirrhosis caused by long-term, excessive alcohol use. Additionally, lecithin supports the regeneration of your liver's cells. Moreover, lecithin can also help to heal livers with hepatitis. Furthermore, lecithin contributes to a healthy gallbladder and heart.

Processing Vitamins

Lecithin contains several fatty acids. However, the fatty acids found in lecithin are not the same as those found in fatty acids from fish. As a result of these fatty acids, lecithin is high in fat. This fat content helps your body process fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K by facilitating both the breakdown and absorption of the nutrients.

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