Phosphatidyl Choline: What Is It And What Benefits Does It Offer?

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Benefits and Other Things Worth Knowing About Phosphatidyl Choline

Phosphatidyl choline is one of those things you ought to get from the food you eat to promote your health. But like most nutrients these days, you may not be able to get sufficient amount if you do not give due attention to your diet. But some companies have supplements that offer it. What is this nutrient about and how does it benefit you?

About phosphatidyl choline

Often abbreviated as PC, phophatidyl choline is a form of phospholipid and a popular source of choline. It is an important structural component of biological membranes. It can be found in cell membranes and pulmonary surfactants, but more commonly in exoplasmic section of a cell membrane. Phosphatidyl cholines are present in all animal and plant cells. They are said to be involved in cell signaling and enzyme activation.

Structurally, PCs comprise a choline head group, a glycerol body, and a pair of fatty acids as “tails.” They feature both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids.

These phospholipids belong to the lecithin category of yellowish brown fatty substances. And they are often considered the same as soy lecithin. But lecithin contains other compounds apart from PCs. The phospholipids are naturally occurring in your body and you can also obtain it from consumption of animal products in particular.

Benefits of phosphatidyl choline

A variety of benefits have been attributed to PCs, although there is insufficient evidence for some of them. The common ones include those discussed below.

Promotion of liver health

The most widely known benefit of PCs has to do with their ability to promote liver health. There are both human and animal studies attesting to this. It helps to enhance the organ’s health mainly through distribution of fat and cholesterol. This ability can help to protect you against a variety of liver complaints, including inflammation and apoptosis.

One animal trial showed that phosphatidyl choline may be helpful in the treatment of hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The use of the phospholipid led to massive decline in disease activity.

Research has also shown that people with drug-induced liver damage and alcoholic hepatic steatosis can find it beneficial. PCs lessen hepatic inflammation, deal with reactive oxygen species, and fight enzymes linked to liver damage.

In addition, the phospholipids are said to protect against the damaging effects of pharmaceuticals and chemical toxins on the liver. They can be useful for detoxification of the organ.

Fat breakdown

One may not be entirely wrong to state that it is now common knowledge that fat deposits in the body pose huge risk to health. Phosphatidyl choline is now being recommended by some for dealing with this menace. The suggestion for those interested in breaking down fat cells in the body is to inject the phospholipids. This procedure is referred to as injection lipolysis. The proponents even suggest this as a viable alternative to liposuction.

Early research shows localized reductions in fat deposits in body areas, such as the abdomen, neck, chin and thigh. These resulted from the use of injectable phosphatidyl choline. The improvements observed lasted up to three years or more. There is also evidence that PC injections may help deal with lower eyelid fat.

However, there is debate over the lipolytic effects of PCs. Some experts argue that studies showing this benefit were defective in their design. Peer reviewed studies have yet to prove that phosphatidyl choline is a great substitute for liposuction.

Enhanced brain function

PC may give your mental health needed support. It is a precursor to acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter is useful for a variety of brain processes as it has to do with memory and learning, among others. Low acetylcholine levels are associated with mental conditions such as Huntington’s disease, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have actually observed that lipid related anomalies are a major factor in both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

There has also been investigation into how the phospholipids may help boost cognitive function in people with dementia. More large scale studies are still needed, however, to better assess how beneficial they can be for dementia.

What there seems to be some level of agreement on is that the amount of PCs in your body may be predictive of your risk of age-related neurodegeneration.

Intestinal health boost

An interesting thing about phosphatidyl choline is that it is an important constituent of the mucus layer protecting the gastrointestinal tract. Research shows that it preserves your stomach and intestinal lining from being damaged by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It reduces risk of damage to the GI tract through anti-inflammatory activity.

Researchers have also found that these lipids can help treat ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Daily use of PC for three months was shown to improve the condition in a clinical trial. A study in the journal BMC Gastroenterology revealed that it inhibits substances that promote inflammation.

Cardiovascular disease prevention

Issues affecting the body’s cardiovascular system are definitely among the scariest, as they can ultimately lead to untimely death. Phosphatidyl choline may be beneficial in tackling the risk factors that can predispose you to cardiovascular disease. These include homocysteine, excessive body weight, and hyperlipidaemia.

Research shows that supplementing with phosphatidyl choline can reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood. It provides a good source of choline that your body can oxidize into betaine. This metabolite is crucial for efficient conversion of homocysteine to methionine.

Other conditions which phosphatidyl choline may potentially help with include:

  • Poor immunity
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Circulation issues in the arms and legs
  • Anxiety
  • Gall bladder disease

Researchers are also investigating how low PC levels may contribute to senescence. Efforts include using mutant mice with significant oxidative damage to model accelerated aging and how the phospholipids may help address this challenge.

Sources of phosphatidyl choline

As already noted, PCs are naturally occurring in both plants and animals. You produce it from the food you eat. Synthesis occurs through the CDP-choline, or cytidine diphosphate choline, pathway. Methylation of another phospholipid known as phosphatidyl ethanolamine offers an alternative means of production.

You can find PC in a variety of food sources, both of plant and animal origin. Examples include organ meat products such as liver and kidney as well as pork, beef, soybeans, egg yolks, chicken, broccoli and whole wheat germ.

Supplemental PC are derived from these natural sources, most notably soybeans and egg yolk. This is usually done with the use of hexane.

Side Effects of phosphatidyl choline

Do note that phosphatidyl choline is not without possible side effects. But it is mostly safe, especially when used according to the right instructions and on a short-term basis.

If you are using it in injectable form, there is risk of injecting directly into fatty growths (lipomas) in the body. This can lead to inflammatory reaction capable of making the tumors become more fibrous. You may need surgical procedure to get rid of this problem.

There is also risk of rise in the levels of triglycerides in your body. This, as you may already know, increases your risk of heart disease. But it has to be noted that evidence of this is not convincing enough.

Oral PC supplements may produce side effects such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Too much sweating
  • Upset stomach

In the case of injections, possible adverse reactions include:

  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Irritation
  • Itching

Normally, these should subside after a while. You need to consult your doctor if they do not disappear early enough or become more bothersome.

If you intend using phosphatidyl choline, make sure you take the likely side effects into consideration. Endeavor to speak with a doctor, particularly if you have underlying medical conditions, you are pregnant or you are nursing.


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