Lecithin is a molecular compound that helps make up cellular membranes and can be used to lower cholesterol, help improve liver health, prevent cognitive decline, and increase mental performance in stressful situations.
Lecithin (in the form of soy lecithin) is often found in trace amounts in many different supplements because it’s a strong emulsifying agent—it helps blend oils and water together, making it great for protein shakes, smoothie ingredients, and other hard-to-mix compounds.
However, if you want the health benefits associated with lecithin specifically, you need a substantially higher intake than you’d get from these trace ingredients.
One way to accomplish this is with a lecithin supplement. Our research team has analyzed the best lecithin supplements on the market and come up with these top ten rankings.
1. Pure Naturals Lecithin Pure
Pure Naturals is an extremely simple lecithin supplement that’s got 1200 mg of soy lecithin per gelatin capsule like many other products on the market, but what makes this supplement stand out is its commitment to being GMO-free.
Most soy grown and used in food products is genetically modified, but Pure Naturals goes the extra mile to keep the ingredients natural.
2. NutraBlast Soy Lecithin
NutraBlast Soy Lecithin has 1200 mg of soy lecithin per gelatin capsule, and has been independently certified for purity and dosage.
The supplement design is very clean, and it’s been well-received by users who praise its efficacy during long-term use.
3. NOW Lecithin
NOW Foods makes a high-dose lecithin supplement that comes in a bottle with 400 capsules, so you’re unlikely to run out any time soon.
The lecithin itself is derived from soy, and the capsule is made from gelatin. People looking for non-soy lecithin won’t be thrilled, but just about everyone else will appreciate the high dosage and large number of capsules included in this supplement.
4. Fearn Lecithin Granules
For those looking for more flexibility in how they dose their soy lecithin, Fearn Lecithin Granules are the perfect option.
This supplement comes with raw soy lecithin in rough granules in a cardboard tub. You can sprinkle these as a topping onto food, or blend it into a shake or smoothie.
It’ll take a little work, but thanks to lecithin’s strong emulsifying abilities, it will blend up well with other ingredients.
The flavor and texture aren’t for everyone, but if you want precise control over your soy lecithin intake, there’s no better choice.
5. NOW Sunflower Liquid Lecithin
In addition to its soy-based capsule lecithin supplement, NOW also branches out with this sunflower-based source of lecithin that’s a prefect fit for anyone who wants lecithin but doesn’t want it from soy.
The liquid form also makes it easy to add to smoothies and shakes. Given the emulsifying properties of lecithin, it goes particularly well with natural protein powders and other supplements that tend to get clumpy in water on their own.
To top it off, this sunflower lecithin is non-GMO, which is hard to find (though not impossible) among soy-based lecithin supplements.
6. Solgar Soya Lecithin
Solgar takes the crown for the highest dosage in a capsule-based soy lecithin supplement, though it’s only by about 13%.
You’ll find 1360 mg of soy lecithin in this supplement, compared to the usual 1200, and while that’s a small difference, it could add up. The supplement design is clean, with no unnecessary ingredients, making it a pretty solid choice.
7. Natural Nutraceuticals Lecithin
Natural Nutraceuticals makes a soy-derived lecithin supplement with the usual 1200 mg dosage per capsule. Because there aren’t as many capsules per bottle, this supplement may be better-suited for short-term use.
Nevertheless, the supplement design is minimalist and there’s nothing in the way of unnecessary additives.
8. Nature’s Potent Lecithin
Nature’s Potent is a fairly standard lecithin supplement that uses soy lecithin and delivers 1200 mg per capsule.
The amount of capsules per bottle (100) is on the low side, but aside from that, there aren’t any real features that make this supplement stand out from the crowd.
9. GNC Triple Lecithin
Despite the name GNC Triple Lecithin only uses one source (the usual soy lecithin) as its source of lecithin.
The dosage is solid, but there aren’t any defining features that make this an attractive option over what else is available on the market.
10. Athelas Neutraceuticals Lecithin
Athelas Neutraceuticals is a smaller company with a soy lecithin supplement that’s largely the same as what you’d find from the bigger brands.
Without any perks like independent lab testing or non-GMO soy, it’s hard to recommend above the others on the market.
Lecithin benefits and side effects
Lecithin helps maintain healthy cellular barriers in your body, which is likely why it finds such broad uses as a supplement.
It can be used to decrease cholesterol and protect your heart, protect your brain from cognitive decline, heal liver damage, and possibly even improve your cognitive function beyond its baseline level.
Lecithin can reduce cholesterol and improve heart health. Lecithin plays a role in a number of biochemical reactions that involve blood lipids and cholesterol, and it appears that increasing lecithin intake can lead to a decrease in biomarkers that are risk factors for heart disease.
A study published in the journal Biochemical Medicine and Metabolic Biology by researchers at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel demonstrated this effect in nine patients with high blood lipids (1). Over the course of three months, the patients consumed 12 grams of soy lecithin every day.
The researchers found that this regimen decreased total cholesterol by 15%, decreased blood lipids by 23%, and increased HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind of cholesterol) by 16%.
These changes are all promising, because they are in the direction you’d want for better heart health: lower bad cholesterol, higher good cholesterol, and lower blood lipid.
Some researchers think that these benefits could be attributed to the omega 3 fatty acids in lecithin, but there’s evidence that other active compounds (specifically a class of chemicals called phosphatidyl serines) contribute as well.
Lecithin may help reverse liver damage. In the liver, lecithin seems to use a similar biochemical mechanism to reduce deposits of fat. In the blood vessels, high lipid (fat) levels are bad because they can cause heart disease, but in the liver, deposits of lipids can cause liver damage in a condition called, fittingly, fatty liver disease.
Fortunately, lecithin appears to help here, too. According to research by Jeffrey Cohn and other researchers at the Heart Research Institute in Sydney, Australia, the chemical mechanism for blocking cholesterol and decreasing lipid levels shows quite a bit of promise for treating and possibly reversing damage to the liver that’s caused by fat deposits (2).
The primary mode of action appears to be the phospholipid compounds in lecithin that block the absorption of sterols, including cholesterol. Though direct clinical evidence is sparse, one study published in 1990 did show that phospholipids from lecithin were able to reverse alcohol-induced liver damage in baboons (3).
Lecithin could treat or prevent cognitive decline. The blood and the liver aren’t the only parts of the body where the phospholipids in lecithin are biologically active.
They appear to play a strong role in bolstering well-being and cognitive performance. Initial research into these effects focused on people with early-stage dementia, cognitive decline, or memory problems.
One such study, published in the journal Clinical Investigations in Aging, investigated the effects of a soybean-based lecithin derivative on memory in 30 elderly volunteers who had memory problems (4).
Over the course of a 12 week supplementation routine, the researchers found that the supplement improved memory recognition, recall memory, and executive functioning. While this was a small study with no control group, the results were nevertheless promising.
Later work extended this line of thinking: a clinical trial published in the Israeli Journal of Psychiatry and Related Science in 2000 used an open-label design, with the same 300 mg per day dosage of phospholipids (5).
The trial found similar effects: among elderly subjects with memory decline, the lecithin-derived supplement showed a statistically significant improvement in measures of cognitive functioning. Later work using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design found similar effects, suggesting that these benefits are not merely the result of the placebo effect (6).
Lecithin can increase cognitive performance in stressful situations. Understandably, the research on lecithin and cognitive decline inspired other researchers to investigate whether lecithin could be used in healthy people as a nootropic to improve their cognitive performance.
One of the most promising areas of research is into the effects of lecithin on cognitive state while performing tasks under stressful conditions. One study, published in 2008 in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience by researchers at the University of Paderborn in Germany, used a placebo-controlled design to test whether phosphatidylserine derived from lecithin could improve cognitive performance while under stress (7).
The subjects took either a lecithin-derived supplement or a placebo for 42 days, then completed a stressful cognitive test while their brain waves were measured using electrodes attached to the scalp.
Compared to their own pre-test values, the subjects who were taking the lecithin-derived supplement performed better under stress, and showed brain wave patterns indicative of greater relaxation. The dosage in this study was pretty low; only 200 mg of phosphatidylserine, which could be obtained by taking a few grams of lecithin every day.
Lecithin, especially derived from soy, is a particularly attractive supplement because it’s been extensively studied for safety.
It’s a “generally recognized as safe” ingredient according to the Food and Drug Administration, which means that there are no regulatory restrictions on its use in food (8). You could (and a few manufacturers do) sell 100% pure bulk soy lecithin as a food product without any problems.
Some people have expressed concern over high consumption of soy products in men—soy is somewhat similar, chemically speaking, to estrogen, and some epidemiological evidence suggests that greater soy contribution in Japanese men is associated with lower levels of testosterone (9).
However, the research is far from conclusive, and the size of the effect is not large. Men who are taking lecithin for high cholesterol, liver health, or to prevent cognitive decline don’t’ overlap too much with men who are hyper-concerned about their testosterone levels, so these worries are probably unfounded for most people.
The dosage of lecithin varies widely from study to study and across different applications. In the research on heart disease, the most effective dosage is fairly high.
In the previously-mentioned study on blood lipids and cholesterol carried out by researchers in Israel, a second experiment was carried out to determine the optimal dosage.
In this experiment, the researchers tried doses ranging from six to 18 grams of soy lecithin per day. After analyzing how each of the different dosages affected the impact of the supplement on these biomarkers of heart health, they concluded that 12 grams per day achieved optimal results.
For liver health, there aren’t direct clinical trials, but given that the mechanism is thought to be the same, optimal dosages should likely be close, if not identical.
The story is a little different when it comes to lecithin for cognitive function and performance. Research on memory, for example, has used doses of 300 mg of phosphatidylserine per day, which works out to more like 1.5 to four grams of soy lecithin, assuming the typical chemical breakdown (10)—some lecithin supplements are specifically designed to have higher phosphatidylserine contents.
Lecithin can be taken as a supplement to improve heart and liver health, help with memory problems that occur with cognitive decline, and help boost your cognitive performance in stressful situations.
It’s a very safe supplement that appears to be most effective at doses ranging from 1.5 to 12 grams per day, depending on the application.
Its broad biological activity, from decreasing lipid and cholesterol levels to improving cognitive function, means a wide variety of people will find this supplement useful.