By: Sammy Cusimano
As the old saying goes, “If you do not make time for your wellness, then you will be forced to make time for your illness.” In modern society, there are so many factors constantly challenging our health physically, mentally and emotionally. Safeguarding all the components of your own personal wellness is imperative. Finding the most beneficial “super foods” and “super nutrients” to give yourself every advantage on your quest to optimal health is crucial. The common denominator of many of these “super foods” and “super nutrients” is their diverse range of health benefits for not only the body but also the mind and even one’s emotional well-being.
One such nutrient that effectively improves numerous dimensions of your health is lecithin. This healthy fat is found in such foods as egg yolks, soybeans and even sunflower seeds. Lecithin has many medicinal purposes, in addition to being utilized as a source of many medicines. The health benefits of this powerhouse nutrient range from treating memory disorders (i.e. dementia and Alzheimer’s disease) to lowering cholesterol, improving the effects of liver disease and even treating conditions such as anxiety and depression to gallbladder disease and eczema. Lecithin is also known for improving heart health and even used topically as a skin moisturizer.
Although the human body naturally produces lecithin in the liver, taking a daily supplement of lecithin will help ensure that you are getting enough of the nutrient to see the maximum amount of its positive health benefits. The recommended dosage each day is 1200-3600 mg. Lecithin can aid in the regeneration of the liver’s cells and even prevent damage to the liver caused by cirrhosis, due to excessive alcohol usage.
Due to the content of fatty acids found in lecithin, fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are more easily broken down and absorbed within the body when supplementing with the nutrient. Lecithin facilitates the processing of vitamins because of its high content of healthy fatty acids, which differ from the fatty acids found in foods such as fish.
Lecithin is an essential component of many prenatal supplement regimens because it aids nutrients as they enter existing cells. It is a vital part of proper cell production as well as cell membrane functioning. Pregnant women are encouraged by their doctors to incorporate a daily lecithin supplement into their nutritional routines. Many breastfeeding experts also promote lecithin as an effective supplement for producing milk in the breasts that has a lower viscosity, thus decreasing the chances of milk ducts within the breasts becoming clogged.
In the realm of digestion, lecithin can improve the effects of ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. The aspect of lecithin that makes it so helpful to the digestive system is rooted in its emulsifying properties. As an emulsifier, it keeps fats and oils from mixing with other substances in the digestive tract. The chain reaction that begins with this process improves the mucus in the intestine. The entire digestive process is then able to work more efficiently, while the delicate lining of the stomach and intestines are protected.
Although lecithin is found in many everyday foods (egg yolks, red meat, whole grains, vegetables and some nuts), the two main sources of lecithin in supplement form are soybeans and sunflower seeds. Soybean lecithin is much more common in the supplement market, but the better overall choice is sunflower lecithin. While soy is very cost-effective, it may also be genetically modified. Extracting lecithin from soybean oil can involve potentially harmful chemicals such as acetone and hexane. If you choose a soy-based lecithin supplement, ensure the organic quality of the product before adding it to your nutritional line-up of daily vitamins.
The sunflower-based lecithin products are a much healthier and safer choice than the soy-based ones because of the difference in how the lecithin is extracted from the seeds. Similar to the process of extracting olive oil from olives, lecithin is derived from sunflower seeds via a cold press. No chemicals are used during this natural process. There are also generally much fewer sunflower allergies than soy allergies in individuals, thus making organic sunflower lecithin a more universal source.
Soy is also linked to higher levels of estrogen. For women, this can be dangerous because many breast cancers require estrogen to grow. Elevated levels of the hormone could raise the risk of cancer. For men, the increase of estrogen associated with soy can cause a hormonal imbalance in the ratio of testosterone to estrogen. This imbalance can lead to issues for men, especially as they age and aim to conserve every bit of testosterone that they can.
The list of essential nutrients found in sunflower lecithin is much higher than soy lecithin. There are more fatty acids in the sunflower-based products and also a higher concentration of vital nutrients such as choline. Although it is naturally produced in the body by the liver, heart and kidneys, choline is a nutrient that is commonly deficient in some individuals’ bodies. It is crucial to DNA synthesis as well as a healthy nervous system. Choline is needed to make the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which plays an important part in vital functions of the body involving memory, muscle movement and even regulating the rhythm of the heartbeat.
The side effects of lecithin supplementation are mainly connected to the soy products. Some individuals have reported digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, nausea and cramps. Choosing sunflower-based lecithin will decrease the chances of any side effects, when proper amounts of the supplement are taken. It is also important to consult with a doctor before taking a lecithin supplement to verify that it will not interfere with any other medications you may be taking.
Nearly every cell of the human body is positively affected by lecithin. The immense variety of benefits to the overall wellness of the body make lecithin a vital nutrient for preventative purposes as well as treatment of many health issues. An increasing number of health and medical professionals are advocating lecithin each day. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, lecithin can help you on your journey to becoming the best version of yourself every single day.