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The Health Benefits of Natural Sunflower Lecithin

Lecithin is a beneficial substance sourced from sunflowers and known to promote a healthy lifestyle. This guide has everything you need to know about sunflower lecithin.

7 minute read

Last Updated April 20, 2023

Sunflower Lecithin Benefits - Men’s Health Ingredients - 1MD

Lecithin is a substance made of fatty acids and is naturally found both in the body and in sunflowers. It works as an emulsifier that suspends fats and oils to prevent them from mixing with other substances. 


While most commonly known to support healthy cholesterol levels, sunflower lecithin has also been found to support overall health, and it supports the function of several systems within the body and promotes overall men’s health and vitality.

What Is Sunflower Lecithin?

Lecithin is made of fatty substances known as glycerophospholipids and can be found in your tissues as well as in several food items such as egg yolk, meats, and corn. 

Up until recently, lecithin from soy was most commonly used for supplements. Because of concerns over GMOs in soy, sunflowers have become the more popular source for this beneficial compound. Unlike soybeans, sunflowers are not genetically modified, and extraction of lecithin from sunflowers does not involve harsh chemicals. 

Once inside the body, a component of lecithin is broken down in the liver into choline. Choline supports metabolic health, promotes normal energy, and makes up two phospholipids that construct cell membranes. Choline also produces the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps support memory, mood, muscle control, liver health, and nervous system function.

Historical Uses

French chemist Theodore Gobley discovered lecithin in 1845 when he extracted the substance from egg yolk. In the body, lecithin is found mostly in the brain. Lecithin is commonly extracted from soybeans, but it can also be found in eggs and sunflower seeds, and is commonly used in supplements as an emulsifier, stabilizer,  and as a conditioner in beauty products. 

How Lecithin Sources Differ

♦ Sunflower Lecithin: The extraction process is carried out by cold pressing rather than with chemical solvents and is considered healthier. 

♦ Soy Lecithin: Most lecithin supplements are made from soybeans. Soy is a cost-effective source of lecithin that uses chemicals to extract lecithin from soybean oil. 

♦ Egg Yolk Lecithin: This type is commonly used in food manufacturing as an emulsifying agent and can also be found in dietary supplements and cosmetics. Egg yolks are also high in cholesterol, so it’s not as healthy for those limiting their cholesterol. 

egg yolk

Health Benefits of Sunflower Lecithin

Research has found that lecithin from sunflowers can provide benefits throughout the body, such as these key nutrients and vitamins:

♦ Phosphorus
♦ Potassium
♦ Calcium
♦ Iron
♦ Choline
♦ Inositol
♦ Omega-3 fatty acids
♦ Omega-6 fatty acids

Prostate Health

As you age, your prostate continues to grow. Sunflower lecithin helps support the healthy growth of prostate cells. 

Maintains Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Sunflower lecithin helps support cardiovascular health by helping to promote and maintain healthy HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Lecithin modifies the cholesterol homeostasis in the liver and promotes the synthesis of great amounts of HDL, the beneficial cholesterol. Maintaining normal cholesterol levels supports healthy circulation and arterial health. 

Aids Proper Liver Function

Your liver is responsible for making all the cholesterol that your body needs. By helping support healthy cholesterol levels, lecithin can promote proper liver function, may reduce fatty liver, and improve insulin sensitivity. Lecithin is also broken down in the liver to make choline, so healthy liver function can support overall health.  

Boosts Cell Communication

Lecithin has been found to play an important role in cell signaling. Cells communicate by releasing chemicals that alter the membrane of another cell, and a domino effect occurs as a message is transferred. Maintaining levels of lecithin helps support cellular communication processes. 

Boosts Brain Health

Choline, a product produced by the breakdown of lecithin, is used by the body to make acetylcholine. This important neurotransmitter helps maintain brain health and function by supporting memory processing, mood, and muscle health. One study found that a higher intake of choline was linked to improved cognitive function. 

neurotransmitters

Improves Digestive Health

The emulsifying properties of lecithin help support mucus production in the intestines, which promotes healthy digestion, proper nutrient absorption, and regular bowel movements. Although research is still limited, supplementation with sunflower lecithin may have a therapeutic effect on digestive health, helping form a protective barrier to prevent the invasion of harmful bacteria.

Supports Breastfeeding

While proper medical care is absolutely essential to help treat a current clogged duct, lecithin as a preventive can help reduce the viscosity of breast milk. 

Supports Skin Health

Lecithin has emollient properties that can keep skin feeling soft.

Lecithin Uses in Traditional Medicine

Sunflower seeds are commonly used in traditional medicine for their nutrients, healthy fats, and lecithin content. In Ayurvedic medicine, sunflower seeds are considered nourishing. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, sunflower seeds are used to support digestion and skin health.

Dosage and Supplements

There is no Recommended Daily Allowance for lecithin supplementation established by the US Food and Drug Administration, but standard supplement doses up to 100mg per day are considered safe for adult consumption. You can find sunflower lecithin in supplement form as well as sunflower lecithin liquid extract, powder, and even lecithin granules. Before starting a lecithin supplement, you should discuss your health and current medication with your doctor. 

Lecithin Risks and Side Effects

Avoiding lecithin that comes from soy can help reduce the risk of unwanted immune responses and occasional digestive discomfort. Lecithin also promotes blood clotting, so it should not be taken if you are taking any blood-clotting medications. Additionally, lecithin can accumulate when introduced to liver cells, so only take lecithin as advised by your doctor. 

The Bottom Line

Lecithin is a beneficial compound found naturally in the body and can be extracted from sunflowers for additional health support. As a fat-based compound, care must be taken with supplementation, but when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, lecithin supplements can support your prostate and whole-body health.