Lecithin is a phospholipid and is usually used as synonym for phosphatidylcholine. Phospholipids are needed by every cell in the body and are the key building blocks of the cell membrane; without them, the cells would harden. Lecithin protects cells from oxidation and largely comprises the protective sheaths surrounding the brain. Thus, it is an antioxidant.
Lecithin contains choline and inositol critical for normal membrane structure and function, such as proper metabollizing of nutrients. Lecithin improves the absorption of vitamins into the cells, particularly Vitamin A. Lecithin is also a natural emulsifier of fat which enables the body to utilize fat as a source of energy or to breakdown saturated fats and pass them from the body.
Lecithin also contains the three essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are necessary fats that animals cannot synthesize, and must be obtained through diet. EFAs are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids. EFAs support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. The body needs EFAs to manufacture and repair cell membranes, enabling the cells to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products. A primary function of EFAs is the production of prostaglandins, which regulate body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception, and play a role in immune function by regulating inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection.