6 Proven Benefits of Lecithin

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The consumption of lecithin is an essential part of health, but in some cases, you may need supplements of this compound, so understanding all the details are important.

What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is a rather generic term for a combination of phospholipids; variations of this compound are found in both animal and plant sources. These phospholipids, which are formally referred to as phosphatidylcholine, are perfectly safe and are commonly present in cellular membranes. In the human body, lecithin is directly related to proper development in the brain and is found in high concentrations in the liver, kidneys, and cardiovascular system. [1]

While most people have no idea what lecithin is, because they get an adequate amount in their diet without even realizing it, it is incredibly important to normal metabolic activity in the body. Once lecithin was isolated for the first time, it was possible to use more pure forms of lecithin for medicinal and supplemental purposes.

A bowl of lecithin gel capsules a wooden table

Lecithin gel capsules Photo Credit: Shutterstock

There are many claims about the health effects of this compound, and while a great deal of research has been done, the exact parameters of what it can and cannot do have not been firmly defined. There is a lot of crossover between this compound and choline, as they tend to both be present in certain foods, and can serve similar purposes within the body. [2]

Lecithin Benefits

The many benefits of proper lecithin levels include the following:

  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Better immune function
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved cognitive function

Cognitive Function

Once consumed, this compound is a vital part of cognitive health and the repair processes in the brain after it is converted into the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This can help to slow cognitive decline and prevent neurodegenerative diseases. [3]

Immune System

By increasing vascular and metabolic health, this compound helps to protect the body against unnecessary inflammation, as well as defending against infections.

Heart Health

Lecithin is known to improve cholesterol levels, and thus reducing the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries and blood vessels, thus lowering the risk of atherosclerosis. [4]

Skin Appearance

These phospholipids are antioxidant in nature, meaning that they can help prevent the negative effects of free radicals throughout the body, including the skin. Supplementation or proper levels of lecithin can help prevent wrinkles and age spots. [5]

Male Sexual Health

This phospholipid group can increase circulation and boost cardiovascular health, which can improve sex drive and virility in men. [6]


Extra lecithin is often used as an additive or emulsifier in foods, and it does help to improve digestive function, including the absorption of nutrients by the small intestines. [7]

Lecithin Food Sources

If you want to increase your lecithin levels, there are a number of food sources that are rather easy to incorporate into your diet, such as the following:

  • Soybean
  • Seafood
  • Green vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Red meat
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products

In most people, the amount of this compound that they consume in their food is enough, and no supplementation is required. However, it has been shown that certain health conditions can be mitigated with more lecithin in the body. [8]

If you are prescribed or advised to take supplements, the dosage range is between 1 gram and 35 grams. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any reason to believe you may be lacking in this essential nutrient, and before you begin adding this to your health regimen.

Lecithin Side Effects

When this compound is consumed in your diet, there is a very low chance of side effects, but if you are taking a more concentrated supplement, there is an increased risk of gastrointestinal effects and possible complications for pregnancy.

  • Stomach Issues: As can often happen when you drastically shift the amount of a certain nutrient in your diet, this supplement can cause diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and other gastrointestinal side effects.
  • Pregnancy: It is not known whether a concentrated dose of lecithin can be passed through breast milk or into the placenta, so it is not recommended to use supplements while pregnant or nursing.
  • Drug Interactions: Be sure to speak with your doctor about any other medications you are taking before adding this supplement to your diet, regardless of what the medication is for.
  • Allergic Reactions: Some people experience inflammatory responses to taking this supplement, in the form of hives, rash or even difficulty breathing. In the case of serious side effects, discontinue use immediately.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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