The word lecithin comes from the Greek word “Lekithos” meaning egg yolk because lecithin was first isolated from egg yolks. Lecithin is a group of naturally occurring fatty substances, known as phospholipids, that are produced in plants and animals. Phospholipids break down into choline which is an essential nutrient for the body that is not naturally occurring, so it needs to be obtained through diet.
When you consume lecithin, your body breaks it down into choline which is an essential nutrient within the nervous system and the rest of your body. Choline stimulates the muscles in your body to contract, helps transport fat, regulates metabolism, and maintains cell health.
Lecithin can be naturally found in many places like green vegetables, red meat, seeds, and, of course, eggs. So what are the benefits of taking lecithin as a supplement? Adding lecithin to your diet could help to lower cholesterol, improve sleep, help with memory, and reduce inflammation. Lecithin is a common supplement taken by breastfeeding women to help prevent mastitis and clogged ducts. The use of lecithin as a medicinal aid has not been approved by the FDA.
There are three main sources of lecithin supplements: egg, soy, and sunflower. Soy lecithin is the most common type and is typically made with a chemical called hexane. Hexane is also commonly used to make glue and roofing materials.
Sunflower lecithin is made using the gum of dehydrated sunflower seeds and is usually cold-pressed like olive oil, so it can be extracted without the use of chemicals like hexane. Sunflower lecithin is an allergen-free alternative to egg and soy lecithin.