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What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is actually a generic term which is used for anytype of yellow or brown fatty substance which can be found in the tissues ofplants, animals and humans. This type of substance contains triglycerides,glycolipids, glycerol, fatty acids, choline, phosphoric acid and differenttypes of phospholipids such as the phosphatidylinositol,phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine. The actually term was firstused in 1847 by Theodore Gobley who was a pharmacist and chemist from France.He actually used it to describe the first pure form of phosphatidylcholine. Thelecithin was first isolated from egg yolk. Gobley then established the completechemical formula of phosphatidylcholine and figured out that it can be found ina large number of different sorts of biological matters such as sheep brain,chicken brain, fish roe, fish eggs, human brain tissue, bile and even venousblood. The name lecithin was derived from an ancient Greek word “lekithos”which stands for egg yolk. There are different ways of extracting lecithin, butthe two most common types include mechanical and chemical extractions fromvarious kinds of readily available sources such as soy beans. The chemical processof lecithin extractions requires the use of hexane. It is a well known factthat lecithin is characterized by low solubility in water and that itsphospholipids tend to form lamellar structures, micelles, bilayer sheets orliposomes when in aqueous solutions, but it all depends on the temperature andthe degree of hydration. The end result of the whole thing is a certain type ofsurfactant which is chemically classified as amphipathetic. Lecithin iscommonly sold as a food supplement but it can be used for a wide array ofmedicinal purposes as well. It serves various culinary purposes too as it isvery efficient in emulsifying different foods and preventing them from sticking.The presence of lecithin in human tissues is of utmost importance for theirproper biological functioning. It is characterized as fully edible anddigestible in most cases. As far as its strong stabilizing and emulsifyingproperties are concerned it is usually contained in different sorts ofchocolate and margarine. Lecithin can also be used for a wide array ofpharmaceutical properties as well. The cosmetic industries also use lecithin quiteoften in the production of numerous different kinds of products such asconditioners, lipsticks and creams.

What is Lecithin used for?

As far as medicinal uses go, lecithin can be used for theprevention and treatment of various medical conditions. Those include differentsorts of dementias and similar neurologic disorders. This is mainly due to thefact that lecithine is an excellent source of choline which is alwaysextensively used for the treatment of dementias. Phosphatidylcholine isconsidered as a precursor for the process of synthesis of acetylcholine.Choline is very efficient in increasing the amount of accumulated acetylcholineinside the brain. Acetylcholine is highly beneficial for the overall functioningof the brain as it improves the memory. Not all cases of neurologicalconditions can be improved by using lecithin supplements. Other medicalconditions which are commonly treated by using lecithin include different sortsof liver related ailments along with hypercholesterolemia. Lecithin may also beof great help when it comes to preventing and treatment of atherosclerosis, butthere are no clinical or epidemiologic evidence which would confirm itsefficacy. It comes in very handy when it comes to reducing the levels of badcholesterol in the blood. It is a little known fact that lecithin can be usedfor the modification of the immune system, mainly by activation of nonspecificand specific defense systems inside the human body. Depending on the purpose,the recommended daily dosage of lecithin may vary greatly from 1 to 35 grams.Lecithin is perfectly safe for use and consumption as there are no identifiedcontraindications at all. Breastfeeding and pregnant women should avoid usinglecithin because there are no studies yet which would confirm its completesafety in such cases. It is also very relieving to know that lecithin is notassociated with any interactions with medicaments or other sorts of substances.Lecithin is usually not associated with occurrence of any side effects at all. Therehave been some extremely rare cases of side effects induced by lecithin andthose included symptoms such as hepatitis, increased salivation, nausea,anorexia and several other minor gastrointestinal effects. There is little orno information at all concerning the toxicology of lecithin. Another importantaspect of lecithin is that it may sometimes be incompatible with several typesof special diets. Those who take niacin for the treatment of high levels of badcholesterol in the blood usually need to accompany it with lecithin in order toavoid reduced amount of choline in the body. Vegans and vegetarians shouldabstain from lecithin derived from eggs if they want to follow their dietsnormally.

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