There are potentially several benefits of lecithin. For example, the supplement may be used for the treatment of bipolar disorder, eczema, dementia, and extrapyramidal symptoms. However, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to support these claimed lecithin benefits. It is not clear if lecithin supplements are safe for use in children.
Lecithin is claimed to be helpful for a variety of different uses. Some of the possible benefits of lecithin include the treatment of the following conditions:
- Dementia (including Alzheimer's disease)
- Bipolar disorder
- High cholesterol
- Extrapyramidal symptoms (a group of symptoms, such as uncontrollable body movements, caused by some medications)
- Fatty liver (hepatic steatosis) due to IV feeding
- Gallbladder disease
- Liver disease
- Dry skin (when applied to the skin).
Lecithin is sometimes claimed to increase semen production in men and to aid in weight loss. There is little evidence to suggest that lecithin really works for most of these uses (see Does Lecithin Work?).
When used as a food or medication additive, lecithin typically serves as an emulsifier or a stabilizer. In these situations, lecithin is not considered to be a dietary supplement and is usually used in fairly small amounts.
Lecithin contains a mixture of different compounds, such as fatty acids, triglycerides, carbohydrates, and phospholipids. Lecithin contains choline, a compound that the body can use to make acetylcholine, an important brain chemical that is low in people with Alzheimer's disease. Because lecithin is a complex mixture of different compounds, it is not entirely clear how it might work.
Lecithin contains more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which could potentially cause negative effects for heart health.