Lecithin

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Monday, March 30, 2015


AFTER a trip to a certain health shop which sells different types of food and vitamin supplements, I came across a certain bottle with the label "Lecithin." And suddenly, if my memory had served me right, a flashback of a TV advertisement endorsing lecithin plus vitamin E was once selling like pancakes with commercial models exposing their sexy skin and bodies.

So what is lecithin?

Originating from the Greek word "Letkithos," which means egg yolk, medical literatures share, lecithin is a common compound found in cells of a number of living organisms needed for proper biological function.

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This substance was first isolated by French chemist and pharmacist Theodore Nicolas Gobley in 1846 from egg yolk.

Physiologically speaking, lecithin is considered a keystone in the construction of cells and prevents the hardening of cell membranes. In turn, at the cellular level, lecithin promises healthy cells that eventually reflect healthy bodies.

Thought to protect the cells, lecithin may also fight off many diseases that attack healthy cells.

Studies have also suggested that lecithin has cardiovascular benefits by preventing fats and cholesterol from sticking to the coronary artery as lecithin is a surfactant that has the tendency to "non-stick." In fact, industrial use of lecithin includes the production of lecithin sprays that prevent the sticking of fatty and oily food to frying pans.

How lecithin acts as a surfactant or "non-stick" can be explained by its properties: this compound has the unique ability to dissolve both in water and fat. Clinically, this helps in moving nutrients, hormones and other substances in and out of cells and to act as emulsifying agents to keep fats suspended in blood and fluids of the body.

Lecithin is also believed to benefit the liver especially those that have been damaged by alcohol and certain medications.

Memory and learning and some neurological conditions are enhanced accordingly with lecithin.

Lecithin can be obtained from the diet or through supplementation.

Dietary sources of lecithin include the following: soy and soy milk products, egg yolks, milk, marine sources, rapeseed, cottonseed and sunflower.

As a dietary supplement, it is thought to benefit acne and lower bad cholesterol. But such claims need more extensive clinical studies and not merely relying on consumer perception studies that may be eclipsed by placebo.

Although toxic effects of lecithin are yet to be studied, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and intestinal distress are thought to be caused by too much consumption of lecithin.

[Email: polo.journalist@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 31, 2015.

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