First found by French chemist Theodore Gobley* in 1850. A natural tonic, emulsifier and surfactant, lecithin is found in every living cell of the body, the highest concentrations of which are found in the brain, heart, liver and kidneys.
Our brain contains approximately 30% lecithin which is also the main component of nerve tissue where it promotes growth, development and nerve transmission. It forms the raw material necessary for healthy cell membranes.
Lecithin also works in our blood stream**. The surfactant properties prevent cholesterol accumulation on the walls of arteries and dissolve existing deposits. It's ability to attract and hold on to both fatty and water based substances keeps LDL and other fats in suspension (in blood) keeping them from sticking to walls of vessels.
In the liver, Lecithin helps the processing of fats, particularly the LDL (bad) kind ** keeping the metabolic processes more active. Chinese medicine attributes the smooth flow of Qi and blood to the liver. With a deficient or, on the other end of the scale, a stagnant liver, moods and emotions become increasingly uneven. PMT, period pain will also become prominent. It's health is important in helping us traverse challenging parts of our lives.
So how can we get more of this important substance?
Lecithin is naturally present in both animal and vegetal foods.
Vegetal sources include seeds, peanuts, wheat germ, olives, avocado and cabbage.
Animal sources are liver, milk, fish, fish eggs, chicken, and meat. It is also produced by our body in the bile of the liver.
With such wide external and internal availability, lecithin supplementation isn't normally necessary however a varied and balanced diet is. Include the suggested sources with a wide variety of healthy foods and you stand a great chance of adequate intake.
And as always consume the highest quality monounsaturated fats you can find and stay away from hydrogenated and highly processed varieties.. Keep them in great condition by storing them in dark bottles as UV light damages them and away from heat as it causes oxidation and other deterioration. For this reason fresh is always better. Fats such as coconut or olive oils fit this bill well.
In fact I will add that many of the supplements available are isolated (read highly processed) from soy beans which are also one of the most genetically modified of all foodstuffs. In my book that is all the reasons I need to keep widely away. If you really wish to supplement ensure that any product is certified organic and from a reputable sources.
Should you have concerns about your liver, please raise this at your next shiatsu session. I am happy to answer any questions.
enJoy and share
* Theodore Gobley "Sur la lecithine et la cerebrine"; Journal de Pharmacie et de Chimie 1874,t20, 98-103, 161-166".
** Iwata T, Kimura Y, Tsutsumi K, Furukawa Y, Kimura S (February 1993). "The effect of various phospholipids on plasma lipoproteins and liver lipids in hypercholesterolemic rats". J. Nutr. Sci. Vitaminol. 39 (1): 63Ð71. doi:10.3177/jnsv.39.63
*** Unisci.com, Why Eggs Don't Contribute Much Cholesterol To Diet.