Effects of consumption of choline and lecithin on neurological and cardiovascular systems

Fed Proc. 1982 Dec;41(14):3015-21.


This report concerns possible adverse health effects and benefits that might result from consumption of large amounts of choline, lecithin, or phosphatidylcholine. Indications from preliminary investigations that administration of choline or lecithin might alleviate some neurological disturbances, prevent hypercholesteremia and atherosclerosis, and restore memory and cognition have resulted in much research and public interest. Symptoms of tardive dyskinesia and Alzheimer's disease have been ameliorated in some patients and varied responses have been observed in the treatment of Gilles de la Tourette's disease, Friedreich's ataxia, levodopa-induced dyskinesia, mania, Huntington's disease, and myasthenic syndrome. Further clinical trials, especially in conjunction with cholinergic drugs, are considered worthwhile but will require sufficient amounts of pure phosphatidylcholine. The public has access to large amounts of commercial lecithin. Because high intakes of lecithin or choline produce acute gastrointestinal distress, sweating, salivation, and anorexia, it is improbable that individuals will incur lasting health hazards from self-administration of either compound. Development of depression or supersensitivity of dopamine receptors and disturbance of the cholinergic-dopaminergic-serotinergic balance is a concern with prolonged, repeated intakes of large amounts of lecithin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Aging
  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Choline / adverse effects
  • Choline / therapeutic use*
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / prevention & control
  • Memory
  • Movement Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Phosphatidylcholines / adverse effects
  • Phosphatidylcholines / therapeutic use*


  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Choline
  • Acetylcholine