Lacking a diet high in liver patee, kidney, and other organ meats, most modern westerners do not consume adequate quantities of choline. This vital nutrient is the precursor for acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for things like learning, memory, and a host of others.
One common source of choline is through a phospholipid molecule called phosphatidylcholine. As the name suggests, this is a phospholipid (fatty acid group) attached to a choline molecule and the combination is found throughout the body, but often supplemented with soy lecithin.
There are a range of purported phosphatidylcholine benefits, though they are primarily known for adding choline within the brain for acetylcholine production, which is a contested claim .
Also Known As
Editors’ Thoughts on Phosphatidylcholine
Phosphatidylcholine by itself isn’t anything too special. It’s simply a compound that is involved with many aspects of cognition and other mechanisms in the body. Even though phosphatidylcholine supplements seem ubiquitous, they don’t appeal to me for multiple reasons (namely there are better choices).
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
Benefits of Phosphatidylcholine
The benefits of phosphatidylcholine are primarily related to choline itself. Our ancestors used to eat large amounts of meat and specifically organ meats (such as liver, kidney, lungs etc.), which are relatively high in choline. The current animal protein is primarily from muscle tissue, which has little of the choline we used to consume.
By using any kind of choline source, there are some benefits especially in those who are deficient. This is one of the reasons why regulatory agencies have recommended daily intakes for humans.
The evidence on phosphatidylcholine (especially for cognition and general health) is relatively scarce. In fact, as we will discuss in the next section, there may be side effects associated with phosphatidylcholine in the long-term that are unhealthy.
Side Effects of Phosphatidylcholine
There are a few main side effects of phosphatidylcholine (or choline as a whole). According to a 2015 systematic review in the journal of Nutrition Reviews suggested that throughout all the research there is scant evidence to suggest any cognitive benefits. In fact, there are potential risks that must be further explored .
Other studies have shown that the side effects of phosphatidylcholine include increased triglycerides, but again the evidence is not highly available or convincing .
How and Where to Buy Phosphatidylcholine
It is possible to buy phosphatidylcholine supplements online, but we would not recommend doing so. Even if you buy phosphatidylcholine, the benefits are not well-studied, and it is not a great source of choline either way. We would actually recommend against it.
Instead, if you are searching for a source of choline, we would recommended CDP choline or this alpha GPC, which are both higher quality choline sources that can help you to improve cognition with actual scientific evidence.