The Supplements Section
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Lecithin is a lipid that consists mostly of choline, but also includes inositol, phosphorus, and linoleic acid. Lecithin helps to prevent arteriosclerosis, protects against cardiovascular disease, improves brain function, helps keep the liver and kidneys healthy, aids in thiamin and vitamin A absorption, and can even help to repair liver damage caused by alcoholism--this nutrient is essential to every living cell in the human body.
The choline and inositol in lecithin protect against hardening of the arteries and heart disease by promoting normal processing of fat and cholesterol. Lecithin itself helps to bind fats and cholesterol to water so that they can pass through the body rather than cause a potentially harmful buildup in the heart or liver. Cell membranes, the protective sheaths surrounding the brain, and nerve cells also contain this essential fatty substance.
The choline found in lecithin helps the body produce acetylcholine, a substance that acts as a chemical messenger to parts of the nervous system, and is essential to the brainís memory function. Studies have shown that people taking lecithin have significant improvement in memory test scores and fewer memory lapses than those who took the placebos. Dr. Safford, who conducted studies that showed lecithin and choline supplements seem to actually boost memory, also noted that the health benefits of lecithin are seen almost immediately. ď The fascinating thing about lecithin is that when it helps, itís right away. Itís one of the few substances like alcohol, which crosses the blood-brain barrier and produces an immediate reaction.Ē*
Lecithin is found in a wide variety of foods. Good sources include cabbage, cauliflower, chickpeas, green beans, lentils, soybeans, corn, split peas, calvesí liver, eggs, brewerís yeast, grains, legumes, fish, and wheat germ. It is also a common food additive to ice cream, margarine, mayonnaise, and chocolate bars.
Lecithin is also available in both natural and synthetic supplements. Taking one 1,200-milligram capsule before each meal can help the body digest fats and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin D. Both soy lecithin and egg lecithin products are available. Egg lecithin may help ease symptoms of AIDS, herpes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other autoimmune disorders, but research into this area of lecithin treatment is inconclusive at this time.
There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for lecithin, but most doctors suggest two tablespoons of lecithin granules be sprinkled on food each day (yogurt, soups, cereal, etc.). Excessive doses of lecithin can cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, so donít take megadoses of this supplement without first consulting a physician.
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