Lecithin, a fat produced by the liver, is found in the cells of all living organisms, in the brain and various other tissues. Lecithin is a source of phospholipids and is also found in several foods, such as egg yolk and soy. In the food industry, lecithin is often used as a thickening agent, emulsifier or stabilizer in foods such as margarine or ice cream. In medicinal terms, lecithin is often used to refer to a purified substance called phosphatidyl choline.
Stores carry lecithin mainly extracted from soybeans. It is either in a powder form, providing 20 to 25% of phosphatidyl choline, or gel caps or liquid containing 60 to 90% of phosphatidyl choline.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.