Since Phosphatidylcholine (derived from lecithin) is a primary dietary source of Choline, is it better to use Choline directly? Are there any benefits of using Phosphatidylcholine in food over Choline?


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    October 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Experiment: Effect of Phosphatidylcholine (PC) and Choline in raising human serum-Choline levels

    The phosphorus portion of lecithin is in the form of Phosphatidylcholine (PC). Based on a study, oral lecithin is considerably more effective in raising human serum-Choline levels than an equivalent quantity of Choline chloride. Thirty minutes after ingestion of Choline chloride (2-3 g free base), serum Choline levels rose by 86% and returned to normal values within 4 hours; 1 hour after lecithin ingestion, these levels rose by 265% and remained significantly raised for 12 hours. Lecithin may therefore be the method of choice for accelerating acetylcholine synthesis by increasing the availability of Choline, its precursor in the blood (Wurtman et al., 1977; Olthof et al., 2005).

    Benefit of using Phosphatidylcholine in food over Choline

    High doses of choline have been associated with a fishy body odor. This fishy body odor results from the excretion of excessive amounts of trimethylamine, a Choline metabolite, as the result of bacterial action. Meanwhile, Phosphatidylcholine (PC) does not present a risk of a fishy body odor because it generates little methylamine thus bacterial enzyme cannot cleave the ester (Zeisel et al., 1983).

    Phosphatidylcholine (PC) contains approximately 13% of Choline by weight (Higdon & Drake, 2012; Linus Pauling Institute, 2009; Shils & Shike, 2006)


    • Higdon, J. & Drake, V.  J. (2012). Evidence-Based Approach to Phytochemicals and Other Dietary Factors. New York: Thieme.
    • Shils, M., & Shike. (2006). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease (9th ed., pp. 513-523). Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
    • Linus Pauling Institute. (2009). Choline.
    • Wurtman, R. J., Hirsch M. J. & Growdon, J. H. (1977). Lecithin consumption raises serum-free-Choline levels. Lancet, 310(8028), 68-69.
    • Olthof, M. R., Brink, E. J., Katan, M. B. & Verhoef, P. (2005). Choline supplemented as Phosphatidylcholine decreases fasting and postmethionine-loading plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy men. American Society for Clinical Nutrition, 82(1), 111-117.
    • Zeisel, S. H., Wishnok, J. S. & Blusztajn J. K. (1983). Formation of methylamines from ingested choline and lecithin. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 225(2), 320-324.
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