Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a fat-soluble substance know as a phospholipid. Phospholipids are essential components of cell membranes. Phosphatidylcholine's role in the maintenance of cell membrane integrity is vital to all of the basic biological processes: information flow, intracellular communication and bioenergetics. The commercial term for PC is "lecithin". When people refer to lecithin they are usually referring to supplements high in phosphatidyl choline. Supplements labeled as "lecithin" may contain from 10 to 20% PC. However, pure PC supplements are generally labeled as "phosphatidylcholine."
Lecithin is a naturally occurring substance found in every cell of the human body, especially in the kidney, brain and endocrine glands. It is made up of a mixture of compounds known as phospholipids or phosphatides.
Phosphatidyl choline breaks down fat deposits in the body, making it valuable in the prevention of atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is also essential to the liver, and helps strengthen its role in removing toxins from the body. As such, people afflicted with hepatitis and cirrhosis may find it beneficial. It can also enhance gallbladder health, and prevent gallstones.
Phospholipids are essential components of cell membranes. Supplements labeled as "lecithin" usually contain 10-20% PC. Relatively pure PC supplements are generally labeled as "phosphatidylcholine." PC best duplicates supplements used in medical research.
Phosphatidyl choline is an important structural component of cell membranes and assists in the breakdown of fats. It is also a source of choline, which the body uses to synthesize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Phosphatidyl choline, which is an important source of the B vitamin Choline, only comprises about 15% of the lecithin that we derive from natural food sources; however, lecithin supplements can contain a wide range of between 10% to 98% of this active ingredient. The higher the concentration, the more expensive the supplement.