Lecithin is a fat-like compound found in human cells and is required for proper biological functioning – it’s a good source of the essential nutrient choline.

What are its health benefits?

Lecithin is a fat that is essential in the cells of the body. Lecithin is converted into choline, belonging to the B group of vitamins, which transmits nerve impulses.

Lecithin is used as an emulsifying and stabilising agent in food (for example, margarine and chocolate production) and cosmetics (creams, lipsticks, conditioners). It is taken as a complementary medicine and also used in the manufacturing of medicine.

Lecithin supplements may have the following benefits:

  • As it is a good source of choline, lecithin assists in the management of memory disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • It is used as a skin moisturiser and assists in the relief of symptoms associated with eczema.
  • Lecithin assists in the management of gallbladder disease, liver disease and high cholesterol.
  • It aids in the management of depression and anxiety.

Do you have a deficiency?

Lecithin deficiency is rare, however, in cases where choline deficiency occurs, symptoms may include:

  • Fatty liver
  • Tingling in hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness

Find it in these food sources

Lecithin is found in animal and vegetable sources, including:

  • Beef liver
  • Steak
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Cauliflower
  • Oranges
  • Soybeans

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

There is no average RDA for lecithin. Your dosage will depend on the condition being treated, your age and health status.

To assist in memory disorders, dosages vary from 1 to 35g daily.

Consult your Clicks pharmacist or doctor for dosage guidance.


Warnings

Avoid supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as not enough is known about its safety during these periods.

Possible side effects

Side effects could include:

  • Gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal pain
  • Feeling of fullness/weight loss
  • Increased salivation
  • Anorexia
  • Hepatitis

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

This medicine has not been evaluated by the Medicines Control Council. This medicine is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in September 2015