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What is Lecithin?
Most people think that lecithin has a lot more to do with how we digest our foods than how our brains function. But this natural supplement, a polyunsaturated fat, is also important to brain cells and nerves. That’s because it is crucial in helping supply the body with choline, a B vitamin which is vital to making the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is required for the smooth functioning of both our nerves and our brains.
While many nutritional supplements containing lecithin are on the market today, it is also found in many of the foods we eat. Derived from egg yolks and the humble soybean, the word lecithin comes from a Greek word meaning egg yolks. In fact, eggs contain a tremendous amount of lecithin, and it is also found in meat, especially organ meat, legumes such as soybeans and nuts and some vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage.
Lecithin also is instrumental in helping liquids emulsify, or making it easier to combine two liquids together that normally do not mix easily. As a result, it is also found in large quantities in ice cream, margarine and mayonnaise. Supplements of lecithin can be sprinkled directly on foods or taken in capsule form.
Scientific studies have shown that lecithin can help improve brain power. One reason is that it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier without problem, which apparently not many other properties do. Students who took health supplements containing lecithin before exams both enhanced the effectiveness of their studying, and also were able to significantly improve their memory.
Studies also showed that lecithin can be of particular benefit to old people, who see decreased levels of acetylcholine in their bodies with age, which impairs brain function. In other tests, people who took lecithin supplements were observed to have better levels of attentiveness, were more alert and had quicker reactions.
Other Uses for Lecithin
Lecithin, found in many foods, can contribute to better brain function, according to certain studies. It may be helpful for people who experience age-related memory loss and improve brain function overall. It may also help with liver problems and other ailments. As with all supplements, consult a doctor before taking to make sure there is no interaction with other supplements or prescribed medication.