When it comes to nutritional supplements, Lecithin is often ignored. Lecithin, a lipid material composed of choline and inositol, is found in all living cells as a major component of cell membranes, which regulate the nutrients entering and exiting the cell. Scientists define lecithin as synonymous with phosphatidylcholine, the name for one of the principle phospholipids. Lecithin rich foods are egg yolk, soybeans, grains, wheat germ, fish, legumes, yeast, and peanuts, and sunflower seeds. It is often associated with improving memory and muscle functions. Think about thinking with Lecithin.
A Lecithin pill is a rich source of phosphatidylcholine. Around the campfire, I like to refer to it as choline but scientists like calling it PC, which confuses people even more. Choline is a crucial component of PC and acetylcholine or ACh, a neurotransmitter essential for normal brain function.
Phosphatidylcholine is a key structural component of cellular membranes and also plays an important role in the transport of fats throughout the bloodstream. As a constituent of bile, PC helps prevent fatty buildup in the liver and maintain gallbladder function.
Acetylcholine is involved in sleep, particularly dream (REM) sleep and is seen as a components that helps process long-term memory in your brain. Ever hear of sleep paralysis? During the day acetylcholine is used as a vital neurotransmitter for moving the muscles of your arms, legs, neck, and face. At night, during dream states, Ach moves up to your brain by pulling a switch with another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. Because of this, your arms and legs in dream state are essentially paralyzed.
The acetylcholine neurons that are most important in the sleep process have cell bodies in the Pons and the Basal Forebrain. In order for the dream processes to take place, there are two other neurotransmitters involved, norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin (5-HT). NE and 5-HT levels do not increase with the cortical arousal that accompanies REM sleep. Only during those REM dream cycles, ACh plays an important role in your forebrain.
By observing the effects of deficiencies, scientists know that acetylcholine is essential to sleep, dreaming, learning and memory. Continued research reveals more things that are going on with the ACh roles in learning and memory processes.
Some research cite evidence that foods containing lecithin, often added as an emulsifier to mayonnaise, sauces and dressings, promote the production of acetylcholine in the body. Eggs, seafood, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, dairy products, nuts and other foods rich in B vitamins are other rich sources.
Lack of acetylcholine has been associated as a possibility of events that may lead to certain cognitive disorders and is one of the competing theories surrounding the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cholinergic activity during REM sleep is similar or higher than during waking. This high cholinergic activity might promote synaptic consolidation by supporting plasticity of the cerebral cortex. Use of Lecithin as a dietary supplement may not make you smarter necessarily but may help you remember more because of the rich source of PC.
For possibly better dreaming and deeper thinking, add Lecithin supplements to your diet and eat foods that are natural sources. Will it help reduce chances of cognitive loss as you age? That’s more complex. Try starting your Lecithin regimen now