Lecithin While Pregnant

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Lecithin might be unsafe during pregnancy. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Lecithin, a substance present in the cell membranes of all living things, contains fatty acids, phosphatides and phosphorous compounds. Although supplemental lecithin has been used as a treatment option for various health conditions, scientific evidence on the safety of the supplement during pregnancy is lacking. Discuss lecithin and any other dietary supplements with your health care provider before use while pregnant.

Identification

Lecithin, a lipid material, contains a variety of compounds, including fatty acids, triglycerides and carbohydrates. A major component of cell membranes, phosphatidylcholine, is reportedly responsible for lecithin's medicinal properties. Lecithin is broken down into choline, which is used by the body to produce acetylcholine, a chemical necessary for proper brain function. Naturally present in protein-rich foods, such as soybeans, eggs, dairy products and meat, lecithin is manufactured from soy products to create dietary supplements.

Possible Benefits

Proponents of lecithin claim that repeated use of the dietary supplement aids in the treatment of high cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, weight loss, anxiety and liver disease. Kelly Bonyata, certified lactation consultant, suggests that a lecithin-rich diet might help breastfeeding mothers who experience recurrent clogged ducts, but more scientific evidence is needed to support this claim. As of publication, little is known about any benefits directly related to pregnancy or fetal development.

Side Effects

Regular use of lecithin supplements might result in certain side effects. High dosages of lecithin might cause vomiting, diarrhea, headache, gastrointestinal problems, weight gain or skin irritation. The supplement also might induce a severe allergic reaction, which can lower an expectant mother's blood pressure and affect blood supply and oxygen levels to the uterus. If you experience symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, including difficult breathing, hives, throat closure or facial swelling, seek immediate medical care. As of publication, effects of lecithin supplements on fetal development are unknown.

Warning

Dietary lecithin is generally considered safe to consume during pregnancy. Lecithin supplements, however, might be unsafe due to a lack of scientific research on the safety and efficacy of the supplement on fetal development. Lecithin supplements might encounter unsafe toxins and contaminants during the manufacturing process. Always consult your midwife or obstetrician before using any type of dietary supplement while pregnant.

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