Lecithin is one of the hottest supplements on the marketplace right now, as this natural product can easily be derived from a number of foods. This makes lecithin supplements relatively inexpensive and widely available. Additionally, lecithin has an established reputation for being safe due to certification from administrative bodies in America and abroad. The United States Food and Drug Administration classifies lecithin under the category “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), while the European Union has approved lecithin as a safe additive for use in consumer food products. Despite these apparent assurances of safety, you should not begin using lecithin or any other supplements without consulting a licensed medical professional.
Lecithin Side Effects and Allergic Reactions
As with any other substance you might ingest, there is a risk of side effects associated with lecithin use. Of primary concern is the possibility of allergic reactions to lecithin supplements. Lecithin is found in the cells of many organisms, including humans. However, the source of the substance for lecithin supplements is typically eggs or soybeans. Thus, if you have an allergy to either of these foods, you may find that supplementation can produces unpleasant lecithin side effects.
Although the exact effects vary by person, known allergic reactions caused by lecithin include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or closing of your throat. Potential allergic reactions are not limited to these effects, and if you use a topical lecithin supplement, you may also encounter rashes (1, 2).
Lecithin Side Effects and Gastrointestinal Issues
Allergic reactions are not the only potential adverse effects of lecithin supplementation, though. As with any other supplement, you may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, and this can be a result of not just the lecithin but other ingredients in the supplement. Additionally, lecithin supplements have been known to cause nausea, increased salivation and decreased appetite (1).
Overall, the likelihood of lecithin side effects is relatively low. However, diarrhea, feelings of abdominal pain or fullness and nausea may result in some cases (3). And as with any other dietary supplements, the amount of lecithin you consume can also influence the likelihood and degree of side effects.
High Dose Lecithin Supplementation
According to Vanderbilt University, consumption of high doses of lecithin supplements – characterized as more than 30 grams daily – may make you susceptible to headaches, dizziness, vomiting or body odor. Furthermore, taking a lot of lecithin supplements may encourage unwanted weight gain, as lecithin is primarily composed of fatty acids, which are calorie-dense (4).
Lecithin and Motherhood
One area in which the potential adverse effect of lecithin is unclear is concerning breast-feeding and pregnancy. While it is entirely possible to consume a large number of foods containing lecithin while you are pregnant and note even realize it, there is concern regarding supplementation of lecithin because of the higher doses. Thus, it is very important to consult your doctor before using lecithin supplements if you are pregnant or nursing (3).
Potential lecithin side effects are not limited to those listed above; you may experience a unique condition. If you experience any adverse effects while taking a lecithin supplement, you should stop taking the supplement and consult a medical professional.
- Drugs.com: Soya Lecithin (Lecithin) Medical Facts
- Everyday Health: Soya Lecithin Side Effects
- WebMD: Lecithin
- Vanderbilt University; Lecithin Supplement’s Effectiveness in Weight Loss; Christine Lawhon