What is soy lecithin
Lecithin is a substance found in cell membranes of both plants and animals. There are two main kinds of it- egg lecithin and soy lecithin.
Soy lecithin is obtained by extraction from soy, specifically from soy oil. It is used as a food, food supplement and food additive (usually as emulsifier).
Soy lecithin is believed to be beneficial for people who suffer from certain diseases and disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, liver disease, gallbladder disease, bipolar disorder and high cholesterol.
However, as it is case with all the products of soy, people tend to either idolize it as a wonder food, or to fear that it may be a toxic byproduct that should be banned from human consumption.
Soy lecithin is made of carbohydrates, triglycerides, fatty acids and phospholipids. It contains choline, a compound that the body uses to make acetylcholine, a chemical that is low in patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of soy lecithin
Producers of soy lecithin supplements claim that this substance can help prevent or cure a wide range of medical conditions, including anxiety, dementia and eczema. The problem is that there is little scientific evidence to prove with certainty that lecithin is in fact effective for those conditions. As for its use in children, it is better to avoid it, because no one knows if lecithin can be beneficial for them or if it can even cause health problems.
The diseases and disorders that may benefit from lecithin, according to its advocates, include high cholesterol, eczema, liver disease, gallbladder problems, anxiety, dementia, bipolar disorder, dry skin, fatty liver due to IV feeding, extrapyramidal symptoms, and several more.
Soy lecithin is sometimes used to raise sperm count in men who are having problems with fertility and some use it as an aid in weight loss.
Children can consume soy lecithin in other foods, where it is added as a stabilizer or emulsifier. However, when it is used as an additive, lecithin does not offer any health benefits. Food products that contain soy lecithin as an additive should not be expected to have medicinal effects. Children should not be given lecithin supplements, especially without the approval or recommendation of a doctor.
Soy lecithin is used instead of egg lecithin by those who do not eat eggs for medical or other reasons, like certain religions, vegans or lacto-vegetarians.
Other, non-dietary uses of lecithin are seen in pharmaceutical industry, paint industry, animal farming, for textile, plastic, and rubber production, and many more.