Have you heard about the newly popular smart drug – Phosphatidylcholine? This brain booster could improve memory and learning ability and even help prevent the loss of mental acuity that often accompanies aging.
Phosphatidylcholine is found in all your body’s cell membranes. It’s a component of lecithin, which is in eggs, soya, nuts and red meat. When you eat these foods, your body breaks down Phosphatidylcholine to obtain choline, an essential nutrient. It then uses choline to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that’s important for learning, memory and other important bodily functions.
Many of the medical uses for Phosphatidylcholine centre on the role it plays in breaking down fats. It’s used to treat high cholesterol. Research shows that Phosphatidylcholine can help prevent liver damage. It’s given to patients with hepatitis. Sometimes, Phosphatidylcholine injections are used to break up globules of fat in the blood or fat deposits that clog the arteries. Cosmetically, injections of Phosphatidylcholine are used to break up fat deposits underneath the skin, particularly underneath the eyelids.
Phosphatidylcholine and the Brain
Phosphatidylcholine could be most promising as a cognitive enhancer. It’s well known that choline, which is derived from Phosphatidylcholine, is essential for good cognitive performance. Studies on rats show that exposure to choline in the womb can improve memory and help prevent age-related memory loss. Choline supplementation after birth can prevent cognitive issues caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol.
Women who take choline supplements during pregnancy reduce their risk of having children who develop schizophrenia.
A study of almost 1400 people showed that people with diets high in choline perform better on verbal and visual memory tests and that people with low levels of choline in their diets have higher levels of brain atrophy.
Research shows that supplementing with Phosphatidylcholine on its own has a positive effect on brain function. A study performed in 1995 showed that Phosphatidylcholine improved memory in mice with dementia. A 2001 study, which also used mice, showed that a combination of Phosphatidylcholine and Vitamin B12 supplements could prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Why Take Supplements?
Although you can get Phosphatidylcholine from your diet, the levels that were shown to prevent memory loss in experiments were much higher than most people get from foods. Getting enough Phosphatidylcholine can be especially difficult if you’re trying to cut down on eggs and red meat to lower your saturated fat intake.
Many people find that a healthy and effective dose is 400 milligrams, taken from one to three times a day.
Side effects of Phosphatidylcholine include stomach upset, diarrhoea and excessive sweating. People who receive Phosphatidylcholine injections can experience more serious side effects.