I wrote here about consuming phosphatidylcholine for the purposes weight loss.

But this amazing phospholipid does so much more than that.

Phospholipids have a common biochemical structure: a glycerol backbone (the same stuff used to make soap) with two fatty acids, a phosphate group, and one extra molecule attached (in this case choline).

Phosphatidylcholine and Your Cells

Phosphatidylcholine accounts for more than 50% of the cell membrane. Every cell in your body has a membrane, and these membranes are responsible for letting in nutrients and oxygen, receiving signals from the rest of the body via receptors, and purging metabolic waste products.

But your cell membranes are made from whatever fats are available for your body to use. If you’re consuming trans fats, that leads to unhealthy cell membranes. Some fat-soluble toxins can insert into membranes too; but if you consume phosphatidylcholine, it can displace these “bad” fats and toxins, and help the cell membrane to heal.

In addition to the cell membrane, phosphatidylcholine is also a major component of the surfactant in the lungs and the mucus in our guts. (Note that these are two of the body’s primary “emunctories,” or routes of toxin elimination: bowels, breath, sweat, and urine.)

Also, many persistent toxins in our bodies are fat-soluble; even if they aren’t directly inserted into cell membranes, they are stored in the body’s adipose tissue. In addition to the benefit of weight loss, phosphatidylcholine’s fat-burning capabilities allow the body to release these toxins, so that the liver can remove them… and then phosphatidylcholine helps the liver to do its job better by protecting against fatty liver and promoting liver regeneration.

(Side note here: in addition to creating healthy neuron cell membranes, phosphatidylcholine can also be very helpful in dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is because choline is the building block for acetylcholine, the main neurotransmitter associated with memory formation.)

Phosphatidylcholine and Methylation

The methylation cycle is one of the liver’s six pathways of Phase 2 Detoxification. It involves adding a methyl group (-CH3) to various kinds of hormones, neurotransmitters, or toxins to render them water soluble. The amines (serotonin and melatonin, histaminetyramine, all the catecholamines including dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) go through this pathway. So do phenols (like salicylic acid—aspirin, cannabinoids, estradiol, and BPA) and quite a few other chemicals.

Choline contains three methyl groups, making it one of the body’s major methyl donors to contribute to the methylation pathway–in fact, 60% of the body’s methyl groups come from choline.

Therefore, if the methylation cycle is compromised (if you have MTHFR mutations, high homocysteine or methylmalonic acid), consider not just B12 (methylcobalamin) and folate (5-MTHF), but consider testing choline levels as well. (If you’re looking at genetics for MTHFR, it’s useful to look at possible PEMT mutations too, as this is the gene that helps the body to produce phosphatidylcholine).

How Do You Consume Phosphatidylcholine?

High food sources of phosphatidylcholine include eggs, liver, soy, chicken, beef, peanuts, cod fish, spinach, potatoes, carrots, apples, and milk—in that order.

Most supplements of phosphatidylcholine come from soy, so it’s important to make sure the supplement you choose is non-GMO, if you go that route. It is also possible to find sunflower-derived phosphatidylcholine (also called lecithin). Doses for cellular healing can go all the way up to 9 grams!