Phosphatidylcholine: Good for Your Cells!

Phosphatidylcholine is a vital component of the cell membrane, giving strength and fluidity to cells. It is a necessary compound in the formation of the nutrient choline. Choline is important for cellular communication, cognition, and other physiological processes. In holistic medicine, phosphatidylcholine is often used for people who need support for memory and learning.

Phosphatidylcholine has an important role in a physiological process known as methylation. Methylation is integral to communication between nerves, assimilation of vitamins, and processes involving DNA and gene regulation. In the body, phosphatidylcholine also acts as a precursor for the formation of two other compounds that are vital to attention, learning, memory, and other cognitive activity:

  1. Phospholipids protect the cell and help carry nutrients and other substances into cells.
  2. Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in a variety of types of communication between brain cells as well as communication between nerves and muscles (neuromuscular function).

Some of the health concerns in which phosphatidylcholine may play a protective or preventative role include:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Memory Recall
  • Neurological development during pregnancy

Phosphatidylcholine and lecithin (which contains phosphatidylcholine) are sources of choline. They can be taken as pills such as choline bitartrate or choline chloride, or lecithin can be taken as powder or granules.

Choline is found naturally in these foods: liver, oatmeal, egg yolks, soybean, cabbage, cauliflower, meat.

When taking higher doses of several grams a day of choline, some people experience side effects like fishy body odor, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort. These side effects generally do not occur when taking phosphatidylcholine. Speak to your holistic health practitioner to determine if and which form of phosphatidylcholine may best support your health.