What is Phosphatidylcholine?
That’s a mouthful. It sounds like something fancy. But it’s not. It’s actually pretty common.
Most of us who are not vegan or vegetarian ingest about 3 to 6 grams of lecithin a day. The term lecithin and phosphatidylcholine are used interchangeably because phosphatidylcholine makes up most of lecithin. Choline is another component of lecithin. Choline is a component of phosphatidylcholine, which is a component of lecithin.
Phosphatidylcholine and Brain function
Phosphatidylcholine makes up a big part of cell membranes. In order to make phosphatidylcholine, our body also needs docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), uridine, and choline.
The reason why there is such an interest in phoshpatidylcholine is because the body uses it to make acetylcholine, a brain chemical involves in memory, and phosphatidylcholine is shown to be able to increase acetylcholine level. PC is thought to benefit brain conditions, such as memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, manic-depressive disorders, and a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia.
Unfortunately, the current research findings do not consistently support the role of phosphatidylcholine in helping with cognitive function, and that supplementation with PC does not seem to result in any dramatic effects on mental cognitive abilities. The benefit on brain function from taking lecithin or PC supplements is only minimal.
As mentioned earlier, a typical person consumes about 3 to 6 grams of lecithin a day, which means the risk of phosphatidylcholine deficiency is low. However, because each human being are unique genetically, there are always a few person who are difficulty biochemically in making adequate amounts of phosphatidylcholine from scratch. Certainly, these individuals would benefit from PC supplementation.
Don’t give up yet…
I have a colleague at work who swears that phosphatidylcholine works wonders on his 2 year old son, who was diagnosed with autism. I know, I know. He’s too young to be diagnosed with autism. But he does have all the signs – speech delay, SUPER intelligent. I know this boy’s developmental pediatrician. This boy knows the difference between trapezium and rhombus at a tender age of 1 year old. According to dad, he recognizes most of the alphabet (English alphabets) and sight-read a couple words.
Anyway, my colleague told me since starting PC, his son is able to communicate more and able to recognize kids of his age and interact with them. However, the oral aversion is still a problem. Did I mention this child is also on the gluten-free casein-free diet?
My point here is studies only tell you what’s most likely to happen to the general population. Until you try it out yourself, you’ll never know if you’re the responding group or the non-responding group.
Phosphatidylcholine supplementation is also recommended in the book “What's Eating Your Child?: The Hidden Connection Between Food and Childhood Ailments” by Kelly Dorfman, MS, LND for sensory processing disorder and speech apraxia.
Start with getting PC from food sources first. Try eggs, soy, and meats. Vegetables, fruits and grains contain very little lecithin. If you plan to take the supplement instead, stay with a lower dose for your child, something like three grams a day or less.
Other Uses of PC
Phosphatidylcholine is also used for treating hepatitis, eczema, gallbladder disease, circulation problems, high cholesterol, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS); for improving the effectiveness of kidney dialysis; for boosting the immune system; and for preventing aging.