Lecithin (soya lecithin)
Lecithin is a naturally occurring substance found in beef liver, steak, eggs, peanuts, cauliflower and oranges. Commercial lecithin products may be derived from sources including soya beans and egg yolk.
Lecithin may be sold in a variety of forms, including capsules and granules.
Lecithin has been taken by people hoping to manage cholesterol, neurological disorders and liver problems. However, there's been no good evidence to support these uses.
Health claims that manufacturers can make about products are regulated and authorised by the EU. No claims about lecithin have been approved.
Soya-derived lecithin is also used as an ingredient in foods as an emulsifier. It is a type of fat called a lipid which stabilises food containing water and fat, which do not normally mix together. Lecithin prevents cocoa in chocolate separating from cocoa butter. It may also be used to improve the texture of some foods and as a preservative.
What are the possible side effects of lecithin products?
Soya lecithin is not suitable for people with a soya allergy and has to be declared on food product labels.
Although uncommon, allergic reactions to lecithin have been reported. These include difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, swelling of your lips, tongue or face, and hives.
Other less serious side effects include nausea and increased salivation.
Always seek medical advice before taking any supplement or herbal product as they may affect other medications being taken.