Have you heard of Phosphatidylcholine (PC)? 

If no, you’re not alone; however, this product is a very popular product on the website, so people obviously know about it! My curiosity has been peaked and I have several questions about phosphatidylcholine. 

First off, how do you even pronounce it?

According to the American Heritage Medical Dictionary, its two phonetic pronunciations look like this: 

phos·pha·ti·dyl·cho·line    AND    fŏs'fə-tīd'l-kō'lēn

What exactly is phosphatidylcholine?

In scientific terms, it’s a phospholipid that is a major component of cellular membranes, and functions in the transport of lipoproteins in tissues. 

In layman terms, phosphatidylcholine is an important part of every cell in the human body. Phosphatidylcholine breaks down fat deposits in the body and is necessary for metabolizing and transporting fat to our cells. Without it, fat actually becomes trapped in the liver. Phosphatidylcholine is made in our cells by choline, and humans obtain choline primarily from our diet. 

And finally, what I really want to know…what is the supplement phosphatidylcholine used for?  In other words, why are so many people buying it??? 

I found two primary health reasons someone might use phosphatidylcholine. 

1)  Liver Health

To date, improving liver damage is the best documented clinical success for use of phosphatidylcholine. Research findings consistently show significant clinical benefits by using phosphatidylcholine, including improvement of enzymatic and other biochemical indicators, faster functional and structural rebuilding of liver tissue, accelerated restoration of subjects' overall well-being, and improved survival following PC treatment (1, 2). 

Phosphatidylcholine also has potential benefits for liver repair due to hepatitis, particularly hepatitis C. Numerous studies have found administering phosphatidylcholine to people with chronic, acute hepatitis, led to a substantial decrease in disease activity (3, 4, 5). 

Patients who had alcohol-induced fatty liver disease (technical term hepatic steatosis) and were deficient in choline had a reversal of this condition upon supplementing with choline (6, 7).

2)  Mental Function

A second proposed use of phosphatidylcholine is related to cognitive health. The body uses phosphatidylcholine to make a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is involved in memory. For this reason, researchers hypothesize PC may help people with Alzheimer’s disease, but clinical studies have not yet supported this theory 100%. Still, people with mild to moderate dementia may benefit from supplements of phosphatidylcholine (8).   

How does phosphatidylcholine taste if you take it as a supplement?

It depends on the supplement, but some are pretty potent. You could add it to juice, such as orange or pineapple, but drink it quickly since it won’t mix well. Or simply swallow it straight. You may hold your nose while taking it as sense of smell is needed to taste. Then wash it down with something you enjoy. I find the taste to be not that bad but we are all different ;)

Now I know why phospatidylcholine is a big deal! It sounds like a lot of research has been done, but more is needed in certain areas to determine phosphatidylchoilne as a valid treatment option or not. I'll keep you posted!

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

 

References:

1. Kidd PM. Phosphatidylcholine, a superior protectant against liver damage. Altern Med Rev 1996;1:258-274.

2. Buchman AL, Dubin MD, Moukarzel AA, et al. Choline deficiency: a cause of hepatic steatosis during parenteral nutrition that can be reversed with intravenous choline supplementation. Hepatology 1995;22:1399-1403.

3. Ilic V, Hegic-Janev A. Therapy for HBsAg-positive chronically active hepatitis. MedWelt 1991;42:523-525.

4. Niederau C, Strohmeyer G, Heintges T, et al. Polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine and interferon alpha for treatment of chronic hepatitis H and C: a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Hepatogastroenterol 1998;45:797-804.

5. Visco G. Polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine (EPL) associated with vitamin H-complex in the treatment of acute viral hepatitis-H. La Clinica Terapeutica 1985;114:183-188.

6. Knuchel F. Double blind study in patients with alcohol-toxic fatty liver. Med Welt 1979;30:411-416.

7. Buchman AL, Dubin MD, Moukarzel AA, et al. Choline deficiency: a cause of hepatic steatosis during parenteral nutrition that can be reversed with intravenous choline supplementation. Hepatology 1995;22:1399-1403.

8. Schaefer EJ, et al. Plasma phosphatidylcholine docosahexaenoic acid content and risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease: the Framingham Heart Study. Arch Neurol. 2006 Nov;63(11):1545-50. 

9. SH. Choline and phosphatidylcholine. In: Shils M, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1999;513-523.

10. McCann JC, Hudes M, Ames BN. An overview of evidence for a causal relationship between dietary availability of choline during development and cognitive function in offspring. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2006;30(5):696-712.  

 

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