You might have heard about the use of lecithin as a nutritional supplement. Go through this article to know more about the possible side effects of this supplement.
Lecithin is getting increasingly popular as a dietary supplement. In fact, it is a fatty substance found in both animal and plant tissues. It is mainly found in the cell membranes, and even the myelin sheaths (membranous covering of neurons) have this lipid material. It is also found in soybeans, egg yolks, wheat germ, legumes, yeast, and peanuts. Studies show that lecithin plays an important role in transportation of nutrients within the cells, in cell communication, brain functioning, etc. As it is claimed to be beneficial for various bodily functions, lecithin is now widely used as a dietary supplement.
What is Lecithin
The term lecithin is usually used to denote a group of yellow-brown fatty substances, which have phosphatidylcholine as the major component. Apart from that, it contains fatty acids, triglycerides, carbohydrates, and phospholipids. It is said that lecithin is beneficial for the body, as it offers protection from the negative effects of oxidation. It also plays an active role in digestion, as bile contains lecithin. It has also been suggested that lecithin can be effective in lowering high blood cholesterol levels. As it is found in the myelin sheath, and is said to play an important role in cell communications, lecithin is also claimed to be effective in treating degenerative diseases, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Owing to these properties of lecithin, it is used in medicines and as a dietary supplement. Being an emulsifier, it is also used in cooking, as a non stick cooking spray. Lecithin is used in foods, paints, and cosmetics. Commercially, lecithin is derived mainly from soybeans, and is available in the form of powder, capsule and granules. Even though lecithin is included in the “Generally Recognized as Safe” list of the FDA, it may sometimes cause certain side effects in some people. So the unrestricted use of lecithin is said to be unsafe.
Adverse Effects of Lecithin
It has been observed that lecithin is free of side effects in most of the users. However, you cannot completely rule out the possibility of lecithin side effects, that are mostly seen in case of over dosage of the supplement. A dosage of less than 30 grams per day, is found to be safe. The side effects are usually associated with consumption of lecithin supplements in very high doses.
The following are some of the possible adverse effects of lecithin.
- Abdominal pain
- Bad breath
- Fishy body odor
- Sudden weight gain/weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Dizziness and fainting
- Allergic reactions
- Increased salivation
Even lecithin injections may cause side effects, like swelling and redness of the site, and burning sensation. While some of these side effects are mild, severe allergic reactions need immediate medical attention. Lecithin in supplements is mainly derived from soy and egg. So those who are allergic to soy and/or eggs, may develop allergic reactions, as they use this supplement. Lecithin supplements must be taken according to the instructions of a health care provider. Apart from that, stick to the dosage, as prescribed by the health expert. There is no standard dosage for lecithin, but high doses must be avoided.
Even though lecithin is claimed to be beneficial for health in various ways, there is no scientific backing to prove the same. Those with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant/nursing women must avoid using this product. As these supplements are easily available without prescription, indiscriminate use has been observed.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.