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5 Health Benefits of Lecithin

Making pancakes using non-stick cooking spray

Maybe you've seen the name lecithin before; after all, it's a common ingredient in some baking products. But if you're here for lecithin's role in non-stick cooking sprays, you might've clicked the wrong link!

Fortunately, lecithin brings a lot more to the table than keeping your cookies from sticking to a baking sheet. From your heart to your brain to your complexion, here are the 5 top benefits you'll get from taking a quality lecithin supplement.

What is lecithin, and what is lecithin used for?

Put simply, lecithin is a mixture of lipids and phospholipids, fatty substances that occur in animal and plant tissues that are essential to our cells. It also has a number of commercial uses, mostly centered around its ability to stabilize mixtures of oil and water. As a nutrient in food and as a supplement, it benefits your entire body, including your skin, digestive health and more.

Where do you find lecithin?

A nutrition-rich fresh green smoothie

Lecithin can be found in a variety of foods. It's present in green veggies, red meat, eggs, cheese and other dairy, soy, and sunflower seeds, to name a few. But before you channel your inner baseball player and grab a handful of sunflower seeds, you should be warned that you'll need to raid your birdfeeder! The black sunflower seeds typically found in bird seed mixes are a much better source of oil than the salty bags of striped seeds at your grocery store (but they probably don't make for nearly as good of a snack).

How do you take lecithin?

Lecithin supplements are often sourced from soy rather than sunflower seeds. Supplementing is an excellent way to overcome dietary shortcomings that won't have you competing with cardinals and blue jays for your nutritional support.

Lecithin can be taken alone, but the granules can also be easily mixed with juices or added into things like soups or salad dressings with your regular meals.

What are the benefits of lecithin supplements?

There are more than a few benefits from supplementing with lecithin—in fact, we counted five!

  1. Lecithin helps maintain heart health and already-healthy cholesterol levels

    – Staying on top of your cholesterol levels and keeping your ticker ticking are important steps to staying well for the long-term. Soy lecithin can impact levels of both HDL (the good guys) and LDL (the bad), helping you maintain those already-healthy cholesterol levels. Soy lecithin can also help maintain already-healthy blood pressure levels.
  2. Supports a healthy inflammatory response

    – Lecithin pairs nicely with curcumin, helping to enhance its solubility and thereby supporting its effectiveness. Together, they support the already impressive curcumin, teaming up to help promote a healthy inflammatory response beyond the use of curcumin alone.
  3. Young woman taking morning supplement with water
  4. Liver health and digestion support

    – Keeping your digestion moving comfortably and your liver humming are important for maintaining your overall health. One of the components of lecithin (dilauroyl phosphatidyl choline) was shown in a preclinical study to support liver health. Lecithin also contains phosphatidylcholine, which makes up a large portion of the mucus layer in your intestines, helping you maintain healthy digestion.
  5. Be beautiful inside and out with lecithin

    – Not all of lecithin's benefits require you to ingest it. Lecithin is often a component of skin care regimes. Applied topically, it can help smooth and moisturize your skin, and also has antioxidant properties.
  6. A smart choice for brain health

    – Lecithin has several notable impacts on your brain function and health. Lecithin functions as a precursor for choline, which in turn creates the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Maintaining these neurotransmitter levels helps support healthy cognitive function. The phosphatides in lecithin also help support cell membranes throughout the body, including in the brain, which helps maintain healthy brain structure and function.

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Can I take lecithin along with omega-3s?

Protein-rich meal with healthy fats

The better question might be "Why wouldn't I take lecithin and omega-3s together?" And the answer to that is: you should!

There's a good chance you may already be taking a fish oil supplement or trying to follow an eating plan like the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes eating more healthy, fatty fish. It is well known that regularly eating fish or taking a quality fish oil supplement is an excellent way to ensure an adequate intake of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are often lacking in typical western diets, which tend to include more omega-6s.

Increasing your omega-3 intake is well worth it. These fatty acids offer a wealth of health benefits, from promoting a healthy inflammatory response to cognitive and cardiovascular support.

If you're thinking that sounds a lot like lecithin's resume, you're definitely on to something. Both supplements can support your health in similar ways. But their synergy might go well beyond their overlapping benefits; they don't just complement each other; they actively make each other better.

How does lecithin work with omega-3s?

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A study found that combining lecithin with DHA and EPA increased blood levels of DHA and EPA, suggesting that lecithin helps increase the availability of omega-3s in your body. And another study found that the combination was effective at supporting against oxidative stress and maintaining already healthy-blood pressure levels and promoting a healthy inflammatory response.

Simply put, either supplement offers impressive health support by itself, but when you stick them together, this dynamic duo just might bring out the best in each other.

About the Author: Philip Vogt graduated from Western Maryland College with a degree in English and journalism. He has more than 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical regulatory review before joining Life Extension as a proofreader.