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Betaine (trimethylglycine) (6 grams per day) and choline (2 grams per day) have each been shown to lower homocysteine levels.1, 2 Choline in the amount of 2.6 grams per day (provided as 34 grams per day of soy lecithin) has also been shown to lower homocysteine levels in a double-blind trial.3 More recently, 1.5 grams of betaine per day, an amount similar to that in a typical diet, also has been found to lower homocysteine levels.4 Doctors usually consider supplementation with these nutrients only when supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 do not reduce homocysteine levels sufficiently. The results of this study, however, point to the potential benefit of increasing one’s intake of foods rich in betaine (such as whole wheat, spinach, beets, and other plant foods).
1. Wilcken DEL, Wilcken B, Dudman NP, Tyrrell PA. Homocystinuria—the effects of betaine in the treatment of patients not responsive to pyridoxine. N Engl J Med 1983;309:448-53.
2. Jancin B. Amino acid defect causes 20% of atherosclerosis in CHD. Fam Pract News 1994(Oct 15):7.
3. Olthof MR, Brink EJ, Katan MB, Verhoef P. Choline supplemented as phosphatidylcholine decreases fasting and postmethionine-loading plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82:111-7.
4. Olthof MR, van Vliet T, Boelsma E, Verhoef P. Low dose betaine supplementation leads to immediate and long term lowering of plasma homocysteine in healthy men and women. J Nutr 2003;133:4135-8.
1. Childs MT, Bowlin JA, Ogilvie JT, et al. The contrasting effects of a dietary soya lecithin product and corn oil on lipoprotein lipids in normolipidemic and familial hypercholesterolemic subjects. Atherosclerosis 1981;38:217-28.
2. Knuiman JT, Beynen AC, Katan MB. Lecithin intake and serum cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;49:266-8.
3. Wilson TA, Meservey CM, Nicolosi RJ. Soy lecithin reduces plasma lipoprotein cholesterol and early atherogenesis in hypercholesterolemic monkeys and hamsters: beyond linoleate. Atherosclerosis 1998;140:147-53.
4. Oosthuizen W, Vorster HH, Vermaak WJ, et al. Lecithin has no effect on serum lipoprotein, plasma fibrinogen and macro molecular protein complex levels in hyperlipidaemic men in a double-blind controlled study. Eur J Clin Nutr 1998;52:419-24.
A double-blind trial of 20 to 25 grams per day of lecithin failed to produce improvements in mental function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.1 However, there were improvements in a subgroup of people who did not fully comply with the program, suggesting that lower amounts of lecithin may possibly be helpful. Lecithin supplementation has also been studied in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor drug called tacrine, with predominantly negative results.2, 3, 4, 5
1. Little A, Levy R, Chuaqui-Kidd P, Hand D. A double-blind, placebo controlled trial of high-dose lecithin in Alzheimer's disease. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1985;48:736-42.
2. Gauthier S, Bouchard R, Lamontagne A, et al. Tetrahydroaminoacridine-lecithin combination treatment in patients with intermediate-stage Alzheimer's disease. Results of a Canadian double-blind, crossover, multicenter study. N Engl J Med 1990;322:1272-6.
3. Chatellier G, Lacomblez L. Tacrine (tetrahydroaminoacridine; THA) and lecithin in senile dementia of the Alzheimer type: a multicentre trial. Groupe Francais d'Etude de la Tetrahydroaminoacridine. BMJ 1990;300:495-9.
4. Fitten LJ, Perryman KM, Gross PL, et al. Treatment of Alzheimer's disease with short- and long-term oral THA and lecithin: a double-blind study. Am J Psychiatry 1990;147:239-42.
5. Eagger SA, Levy R, Sahakian BJ. Tacrine in Alzheimer's disease. Lancet 1991;338:50-1 [letter; comment].
Phosphatidylcholine (PC)—a purified extract from lecithin—is one of the components of bile that helps protect against gallstone formation. Some preliminary studies suggest that 300–2,000 mg per day of PC may help dissolve gallstones.1, 2 Some doctors suggest PC supplements as part of gallstone treatment, though the supporting research is weak.3
1. Toouli J, Jablonski P, Watts JM. Gallstone dissolution in man using cholic acid and lecithin. Lancet 1975;ii:1124-6.
2. Tuzhilin SA, Dreiling D, Narodetskaja RV, Lukahs LK. The treatment of patients with gallstones by lecithin. Am J Gastroenterol 1976;165:231-5.
3. Holan KR, Holzbach T, Hsieh JYK, et al. Effect of oral administration of ‘essential' phospholipid, 8-glycerophosphate, and linoleic acid on biliary lipids in patients with cholelithiasis. Digestion 1979;19:251-8.
When medical researchers use the term “lecithin,” they are referring to a purified substance called phosphatidyl choline (PC) that belongs to a special category of fat-soluble substances called phospholipids.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.
Suggested Use: As a dietary supplement, take 1 softgel daily with meals.
Store in a cool, dry place. Keep out of reach of children.