1. What Is It?
Phosphatidylcholine is a molecule that is made up of phospholipids and choline. Choline is an essential nutrient that is required by the body to maintain our health. Phospholipids are made up of fatty acids, glycerol and phosphorous and these are the main component of cell membranes. The phospholipid element of Phosphatidylcholine allows for superior bioavailability to other forms of Choline.
Phosphatidylcholine can be found in a number of food sources with one of the best naturally occurring sources of Phosphatidylcholine being lecithin. Lecithin is a fairly generic term used to group fatty substances that can be found in animal and plant tissues. Lecithin was first isolated from egg yolk with the first chemical substance being identified from the lecithin as Phosphatidylcholine all the way back in 1874.
2. What Does It Do?
Phosphatidylcholine is best known as a Choline donor that helps enhance cognitive function, but there are more benefits we will get into in a little bit. Phosphatidylcholine, when consumed a source of choline for the body. The increased levels of choline then trigger the body to increase the production of Acetylcholine as well as cell membrane phospholipids. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is used in many processes in the body and increasing Acetylcholine production is the key to Phosphatidylcholines benefits.
For an in-depth break down on the benefits of Choline & Acetylcholine supplementation check out our Choline Supplements Simplified Article.
Supporting Long Term Memory
Phosphatidylcholine, when consumed, is converted through the process called phospholipase A2-catalyzed hydrolysis to make up the fatty acids AA, oleic, linoleic, linolenic & DHA (the omega-3 fat). These fatty acids support & strengthen the signalling that occurs between and within brain cells that are vital for long-term potentiation (LTP). LTP is responsible for our ability to form long-term memories and therefore the fatty acids we get from Phosphatidylcholine help us with long-term memory formation.
Repairing Neurons & Cell Membranes
As we mentioned before, Phosphatidylcholine is a major component of the brain cell membranes in the body. These membranes serve as a choline storage pool for the bodies ability to synthesise Acetylcholine. If there is not enough choline available to support brain cell membrane health and also allow the synthesis of Acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter, the brain cell function deteriorates. This can then lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neuron disorders and even Alzheimers.
Prevention of Age-Related Cognitive Decline
As we age our brain chemistry changes, along with an endless list of other changes within the body. We dont know when these changes will occur as they can start at any time after reaching adulthood. Changes include, but are not limited to, degeneration of brain cell membranes, a decline in brain Acetylcholine levels, reaction time slowing down, memory recollection deteriorating. The good news is, supplementation with Phosphatidylcholine can actually assist the body in preventing these age-related neurodegenerative changes from occurring.
Improves Liver Health
Supplementation with Phosphatidylcholine has been shown to improve the health of the liver. Animal studies found that very low levels of Phosphatidylcholine can cause severe liver damage and even death in mice. A study using a combination of Phosphatidylcholine & Milk Thistle showed significant improvements in liver enzymes, liver tissue & insulin resistance in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (a build-up of fat in the liver due to causes other than alcohol).
3. How Much Do I Need To Take?
Supplementing with Phosphatidylcholine can get a tad confusing with some brands and products. Its very common for Phosphatidylcholine to be sourced from lecithin when being added into a supplement, and some companies will only disclose the amount of lecithin being provided and not the value of Phosphatidylcholine being yielded.
Dosages from 200 and up to 2,000 mg per day of Phosphatidylcholine have been shown to elicit the effects we have discussed. For general cognitive health and improvement doses on the lower end of the scale, 200 – 1,000 mg per day, have been shown to be effective. For the neuroprotective benefits of Phosphatidylcholine, dosages of over 1,000 mg per day are recommended.
So what if my supplement used lecithin to provide Phosphatidylcholine? Generally speaking, lecithin is thought to yield between 13 – 15% Phosphatidylcholine but it will ultimately depend on the quality and source of that lecithin. With this in mind, you will need between 6,500 – 8,000 mg of lecithin in a product to obtain 1,000 mg of Phosphatidylcholine.
4. When Do I Take It?
Studies have shown improvements in cognitive function 60 and 90 minutes after consumption of Phosphatidylcholine. Due to this nootropic effect, we would suggest consuming Phosphatidylcholine before any mentally demanding task throughout your day.
As there is an increase in cognitive performance from supplementation of Phosphatidylcholine, we would suggest being cautious of how late you consume Phosphatidylcholine due to its potentially negative effect on sleep.
For general health benefits of Phosphatidylcholine, splitting large daily dosages of over 1,000 mg into smaller more frequent serves (2 – 3 times per day) will help the absorption of it by the body.
5. How Long Does It Take To Work?
For the cognitive enhancement effects of Phosphatidylcholine, you can experience benefits within the first 90 minutes after consumption. These benefits are dose-dependent and will vary individually from person to person.
For benefits towards age-related neurodegenerative disorders, it will vary on the individuals current cognitive and health status and also the dosage of Phosphatidylcholine being used as to how quickly results can be experienced.