Lecithin was originally discovered by French chemist Maurice Gobley, who named a substance he extracted from egg yolk after the Greek word for egg yolk, “lekithos”. Lecithin has been in commercial use for more than a century, but since the extraction process from egg yolk proved costly for certain applications lecithin is today not only extracted from egg (egg lecithin) but also from soybean (soy lecithin) and other sources such as sunflower seed, rapeseed and maize. Soy lecithin is extracted from raw soybeans. First the oil is extracted using a chemical solvent, like hexane, and then the oil is processed (which is called degumming) so that the lecithin is separated and dried. Lecithin is a food additive generally used as an emulsifier, or lubricant, when added to food, but also has uses as an antioxidant and flavor enhancer in dietary supplements, ice cream and dairy products, infant formulas, breads, margarine, and other convenience foods. In other words, you’re probably already consuming soy lecithin, whether you realize it or not.
There is a growing body of research supporting its use for improving blood lipids, reducing inflammation, and treating neurological disorders. For instance, one study found that after 2 months of supplementing with 500mg of soy lecithin per day, total cholesterol levels fell by 42% and LDL levels decreased by 56%. However, side affects include: soy allergy, increased estrogen production (with different gender effects), potential thyroid damaged, diminished absorption of beta carotene, hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, generally feeling poorly, weight gain, severe abdominal cramps – diarrhea and or constipation, allergies, lethargy, and more.
So, like most traditional medications, use soy lecithin with an awareness of potential adverse affects. However, when comparing these potential affects and the cost of use of statin products, they may be a viable alternative for you in the management of serum cholesterol.