Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a purified extract from lecithin and is one of the components of bile (it is required for normal transport of bile acids). Emulsifies and breaks down fat deposits in the body, which make it helpful in the prevention of gallstones, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and liver problems.Research has shown that Phosphatidylcholine is beneficial in depression, memory loss and neurological disorders. It is 3 times more potent than Lecithin
Phosphatidylcholine is one of the most important support nutrients for the liver. PC is a phospholipid, a large biological molecule that is a universal building block for cell membranes. A cell's membranes are its essence: they regulate the vast majority of the activities that make up life. Most liver metabolism occurs on cell membranes, which occupy about 33,000 square meters in the human. More than 2 decades of clinical trials indicate that PC protects the liver against damage from alcoholism, pharmaceuticals, pollutant substances, viruses, and other toxic influences, most of which operate by damaging cell membranes. The human liver is confronted with tens of thousands of exogenous substances. The metabolism of these xenobiotics can result in the liver's detoxicative enzymes producing reactive metabolites that attack the liver tissue. Dietary supplementation with PC (a minimum 800 mg daily, with meals) significantly speeds recovery of the liver. PC has also been shown to be effective against alcohol's liver toxicity in well-controlled studies on baboons. PC has other qualities that enhance its usefulness as a dietary supplement. PC is safe, and is a safer means for dietary choline repletion than choline itself. PC is fully compatible with pharmaceuticals, and with other nutrients. PC is also highly bioavailable (about 90% of the administered amount is absorbed over 24 hours), and PC is an excellent emulsifier that enhances the bioavailability of nutrients with which it is co-administered. PC's diverse benefits and proven safety indicate that it is a premier liver nutrient.
Lecithin is a nutrient compound which was first isolated from egg yoke in 1850 by Maurice Bobley. Since that time, it has been shown to be present in many foods. Soybeans and other legumes, grains, wheat germ, brewers yeast, and fish, as well as egg yokes are all good sources of lecithin.
Biochemically speaking, lecithin belongs to a group of nutrients known as lipids (fats, oils, waxes) and is a phospholipid called phosphatidylcholine. It is important to note that since what is commercially called lecithin is actually only one-third true lecithin. The other two-thirds is made up of other phospholipids.
Lowering serum cholesterol levels has been recommended as an important factor in coronary health. Lecithin, specifically granular lecithin with 98%+ phosphatidylcholine content, can be an valuable component in that process.
In 1958, that Dr. Lester M. Morrison, director of a research unit at Los Angeles County General Hospital, first published (Geriatrics, January, 1958) his findings that lecithin could be used to lower cholesterol levels. In fact, Dr. Morrison reported that "lecithin was found to be the most effective cholesterol lowering agent tested.." He reported that 80% of his patients suffering from high serum cholesterol levels showed an average decrease of 41% in serum cholesterol after taking lecithin for several weeks.
Instead of "blocking" absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract as other cholesterol reducing agents did, lecithin enhanced the metabolism of cholesterol in the digestive system and aided in its transport through the circulatoiy system. The lecithin acted as an emulsifier and broke down the fats and cholesterol in the diet into tiny particles and held them in suspension, preventing them from sticking to blood platelets or arterial walls. It is when fats are not properly emulsified, that they become "sticky" and this is the major cause of blood clots, atherosclerosis, and coronary thrombosis. Interestingly enough, researchers have since demonstrated that atherosclerosis (blockage of the arteries) can be induced in the laboratory by either increasing the cholesterol introduced into the body or by decreasing lecithin intake.
Researchers Adams and Morgan have also shown that lecithin from a vegetable source (soybeans) is more effective than lecithin from an animal source (eggs) in acceleratingly re-absorption of cholesterol back into the blood stream that has adhered to the walls of blood vessels and caused blockage.
This difference is attributed to the fact that lecithin from animal sources contains high amounts ofsaturated fatty acids, while lecithin from vegetable sources are about 80% unsaturated fatty acids.
Perhaps the most interesting new findings on lecithin concern its connection with the functioning of the brain and nervous system.
The main source of energy for the brain comes from a combination of oxygen and glucose (sugar). For brain cells to function normally they must receive a constant supply of these nutrients. As areas of the brain become more active blood flow into and out of these areas increase.
In addition to oxygen and glucose, the brain uses chemical compounds known as phospholipids. These phosopholipids make up the covering of nerve cells that assist in the transfer of information from cell to cell. Without phospholipids brain cell activity may become abnormal and cause problems in the nervous system.
Certain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and brain tumors can affect blood flow to the brain and change the way the brain metabolizes phopholipids. In addition to diseases, changes in the brain occur with normal healthy aging.
Besides being an important factor in controlling cholesterol levels and aiding coronary health, lecithin is involved in a myriad of body functions. Every cell of your body contains lecithin. Lecithin is responsible for maintaining the surface tension of the cell membrane. It therefore controls what goes in and out of each cell, allowing nutrients in, or wastes out. Without enough lecithin, the cell wall hardens, thus not allowing enough nutrients in or wastes out. This means premature aging of cells. The surface tension of the cell maintained by lecithin is also responsible for transmitting nerve impulses and messages through or from the cell.
A key factor in proper brain and nerve transmissions is the presence of cellular substance called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine deficiencies are linked with the neurological disorders tardive dyskinesia (involuntary facial grimaces and body jerking), Huntington's chorea. Friedrich's ataxia (speech impairment, irregular movements, and paralysis), olivaponto-cerebellasatrophy (wasting away of the brain), Alzhemer's disease (a mind destroying disease that starts with memoiy difficulties), and myasthenia gravis (progressive paralysis).
Until recently, medical researchers were using choline chloride to help their patients who suffered from these insidious brain disorders to produce more acetylcholine in their bodies. However, in 1977, Dr. Richard Wurtinan and his colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that lecithin (which contains phosphatidylcholine) increased serum choline levels more than three times as much as the previously used choline chloride and kept those levels raised more than three times as long. This meant that researchers had found a way to significantly raise acetylcholine levels in their patients since acetylcholine production in the brain was dependent on serum choline levels.
An unexpected discovery by researchers at The National Institutes of Health (NIH), may help to explain how Alzheimer's disease causes memory loss. The research shows that beta amyloid, a common protein in the brain, can make cell membranes leak choline, and thus reduce production of acetylcholine in cells. Choline, an essential ingredient in acetylcholine, has been known for many years to help store and retrieve memories. Two hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease are accumulation in the brain of beta amyloid and reduction of the concentration of acetylcholine. In Alzheimer's disease, as well as in older subjects with Down syndrome, the brain cells which produce acetylcholine are known to die.
The research is reported in the May 23rd issue of Brain Research by investigators at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders (NINDS). According to Dr. Stanley Rapoport, Chief of the NIA's Laboratory of Neurosciences, "We think that increased leakage of choline through the nerve cell membranes, due to prolonged exposure to excess concentrations of beta amyloid, may make these cells more vulnerable. This could contribute to the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and Down's syndrome dementia."
Studies on the effect of phosphatidylcholine administration on memory are limited. We administered egg phosphatidylcholine to mice with dementia and to normal mice and compared the differences in memory and serum choline concentration, and choline and acetylcholine concentrations and choline acetyltransferase activities of three forebrain regions (cortex, hippocampus and the remaining forebrain). Mice with dementia were produced by mating sibling mice who had impaired memory for > 20 generations. These mice had poor memory and low brain acetylcholine concentration. We administered 100 mg of egg phosphatidylcholine (phosphatidylcholine group) or water (control group) by gavage to each mouse daily for about 45 d. Control mice with dementia had poorer memory in passive avoidance performance and lower brain choline (cortex and hippocampus) and acetylcholine (hippocampus and forebrain excluding cortex and hippocampus) concentrations and lower cortex choline acetyltransferase activity than the control normal mice (P < 0.05). The administration of phosphatidylcholine to mice with dementia improved memory and generally increased brain choline and acetylcholine concentrations to or above the levels of the control normal mice. In normal mice, phosphatidylcholine treatment did not affect memory or acetylcholine concentrations in spite of the great increase in choline concentrations in the three brain regions. Serum choline concentration in mice treated with phosphatidylcholine increased to a similar level in both strains of mice, indicating that the absorption of phosphatidylcholine was not impaired in mice with dementia. The results suggest that administration of egg phosphatidylcholine to mice with dementia increases brain acetylcholine concentration and improves memory.
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