Phosphatidylcholine has shown promise as a therapeutic tool against liver diseases and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s. However, research into its effects is still ongoing, and additional studies are needed to fully determine the safety of taking these supplements.
This blog post will provide an overview of phosphatidylcholine supplements, their potential applications in health care, and their potential side effects. By understanding what this compound does on both cellular and systemic levels, we can better assess if supplementing with phosphatidylcholine is right for our individual needs. Now, let’s start.
What is Phosphatidylcholine?
PC, or phosphatidylcholine, is not a vitamin but a phospholipid, one of the main components of our cell membranes. PC facilitates the entry of nutrients and cellular energy while facilitating the exit of byproducts and debris. Because of this, cellular metabolism is boosted. You’ll be healthier if your cells function better, starting with boosting their metabolism.
It is a type of dietary supplement that has become popular in recent years due to its purported health benefits, which range from improved cognitive function to reduced levels of fat and cholesterol in the body.
Phosphatidylcholine is also a component of bile, which aids in the digestion and absorption of dietary fats. You can get phosphatidylcholine in eggs, soybeans, mustard, and sunflower seeds all include phosphatidylcholine.
How Does Phosphatidylcholine Work?
Phosphatidylcholine has several positive effects on brain health and function. The first advantage is that it aids in long-term memory storage. The brain hydrolyzes phosphatidylcholine, producing free fatty acids necessary for learning and memory.
Secondly, it aids in the repair of damaged neurons. PC is widely distributed in the membranes of neurons in the brain. It stores choline, a precursor to acetylcholine production, which is required for regulating heart contractions and blood pressure, intestinal peristalsis, glandular secretion, and other processes in the body.
Brain cells cannot function properly if they don’t have enough choline to keep their membranes healthy and to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. As a result, you’ll have memory loss, difficulty making decisions, and general brain fog. This may lead to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of motor neuron disorders.
What are the Benefits of Phosphatidylcholine Supplements?
Research has found that Phosphatidylcholine supplements can help to improve cognitive function, specifically memory, and learning capacity. Aside from that, it also has other benefits, which are the following:
1. Phosphatidylcholine for Brain Health
There are 60 percent lipids in the brain, and its functioning depends on the phospholipid balance in cell membranes. Preliminary research suggests that PC can aid in minor age-related memory decline and promote healthy brain function.
Acetylcholine is a molecule in the brain that the body synthesizes from phosphatidylcholine. Memory and other processes in the body rely on acetylcholine. Because phosphatidylcholine may enhance acetylcholine, there is interest in utilizing it to improve memory and treat other brain-centered conditions, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and tardive dyskinesia. 
2. Phosphatidylcholine for Liver Health
The most studied and well-known function of PC is in maintaining liver health, which has been demonstrated to be effective in treating liver illnesses such as alcoholic hepatic steatosis, drug-induced liver damage, and hepatitis.
Animal research suggests that PC may be beneficial in preventing the buildup of fat in the liver, which can lower lipids that contribute to fatty liver. Additionally, it may help the liver and the detoxification process. [2, 3]
PC has also been found to enhance liver enzymes, liver histology, and insulin resistance when taken with silybin, an active ingredient of Silybum marianum (milk thistle), which also protects gastric and liver cells from oxidative stress.
3. Phosphatidylcholine for Treating Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the colon and rectum. Inflammation of the intestine is a symptom of ulcerative colitis. It might also lead to ulcers. The levels of PC in the intestinal mucus of people with ulcerative colitis are typically significantly lower than normal. 
Phosphatidylcholine has been found to be effective in managing its symptoms, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and inflammation. Taking a supplement may help prevent damage to the mucus lining of the digestive tract and lessen inflammation. Studies have shown that taking phosphatidylcholine in one of its many forms daily for up to three months is beneficial to alleviate the discomfort associated with ulcerative colitis.
4. Phosphatidylcholine for Dissolving Gallstones
Gallstones are hard deposits that form in the gallbladder. They’re often comprised of bilirubin or undissolved cholesterol. They can become stuck in your bile ducts and cause excruciating pain or pancreatitis if you don’t get them out.
Phosphatidylcholine is a component of bile that inhibits the development of gallstones. Preliminary research suggests that taking between 300 and 2,000 mg of PC daily may dissolve gallstones. Hence, the production of cholesterol gallstones may be mitigated by using PC supplements. In an animal study, higher PC levels were associated with lower saturation levels of cholesterol. 
5. Phosphatidylcholine for Inflammation
It has been shown that the molecule phosphatidylcholine (PC) possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant/pro-oxidant properties.
Phosphatidylcholine therapy, according to research, decreased arthritis-related white blood cell response and inflammation in rats. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms were significantly reduced in mice that were given dietary phosphatidylcholine supplementation. These supplements aided in reducing inflammation by causing a reduction in the number of inflammatory white blood cells in the circulation. 
Phosphatidylcholine Supplements Dosage
Phosphatidylcholine is available in various dosage forms, including capsules, pills, and injections.
There is no generally accepted dosage. However, taking up to 30 grams per day for six weeks or 6 grams per day for two years does not appear harmful. To take 840 milligrams up to twice a day is a usual recommendation. Taking Phosphatidylcholine 3-9 g daily in divided doses is safe.
Phosphatidylcholine can be injected subcutaneously by a medical expert. The recommended time between doses is two to four weeks.
PC can also be used as a topical treatment to alleviate skin irritation, acne, and other conditions. It can be purchased as a serum, ointment, or oil. Before using, make sure you read the label.
To lessen the likelihood of undesirable effects, it’s best to begin treatment with the smallest effective dose. Pay close attention to the directions provided by the manufacturer or your physician.
Best Phosphatidylcholine Supplement
If you’re wondering which is the best Phosphatidylcholine supplement, we recommend the Jarrow Formulas Citicoline.
It contains citicoline, a naturally occurring compound found in the body that helps increase levels of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger important for cognitive function. It also includes Cognizin, a type of citicoline known to boost cognitive performance in clinical trials with healthy individuals.
Still, if you’re planning to take phosphatidylcholine supplements, consult your doctor first. Your doctor will prescribe the supplement that best fits your needs.
Is Phosphatidylcholine Safe? Side Effects and Risks
Phosphatidylcholine is generally considered to be safe for most adults, and it has few side effects. However, some people may experience minor gastrointestinal distress after taking Phosphatidylcholine supplements. If this happens, it’s important to reduce the dosage or stop taking Phosphatidylcholine altogether.
Also, taking a PC supplement while taking an anticholinergic drug is not recommended unless under medical supervision. Muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, lowered heart rate, and seizures are possible side effects of taking the supplement and prescription combined.
PC injections can convert benign fatty tumors into malignant fibrous ones, requiring surgical removal of the tumor.
Can You Take Too Much Phosphatidylcholine?
One side effect of oral PC is sweating excessively, and taking over 30 grams daily might lead to other unpleasant side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Bottom Line: Phosphatidylcholine Supplements Benefits and Risks
Phosphatidylcholine is an important molecule for cellular signaling and a key component of cell membranes. Phosphatidylcholine supplements may provide many health benefits, including supporting cognitive function, treating ulcerative colitis, and managing gallstones.
While PC is generally considered safe for most adults, some people may experience minor gastrointestinal distress when taking Phosphatidylcholine supplements. It’s important to follow the instructions on the supplement label and only take the recommended dose. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult with your doctor before using Phosphatidylcholine supplements, as there is not enough evidence to determine their safety.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Chung SY, Moriyama T, Uezu E, Uezu K, Hirata R, Yohena N, Masuda Y, Kokubu T, Yamamoto S. Administration of phosphatidylcholine increases brain acetylcholine concentration and improves memory in mice with dementia. J Nutr. 1995 Jun;125(6):1484-9. doi: 10.1093/jn/125.6.1484. PMID: 7782901.
- Sally Tandy, Rosanna W.S. Chung, Alvin Kamili, et. al., Hydrogenated phosphatidylcholine supplementation reduces hepatic lipid levels in mice fed a high-fat diet. Atherosclerosis Journal. Volume 213, Issue 1. P142-147, Nov 01, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.07.050.
- Lorissa J. Niebergall, René L. Jacobs, Todd Chaba, Dennis E. Vance. Phosphatidylcholine protects against steatosis in mice but not non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids. Volume 1811, Issue 12, 2011. Pages 1177-1185. ISSN 1388-1981. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbalip.2011.06.021.
- H Scheider, A Braun, J Füllekrug, W Stremmel, R Ehehalt. Lipid Based Therapy for Ulcerative Colitis—Modulation of Intestinal Mucus Membrane Phospholipids as a Tool to Influence Inflammation. Phospholipids: Molecular Sciences. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2010, 11(10), 4149-4164; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms11104149.
- J Kasbo, B Tuchweber, S, Perwaiz, G Bouchard, H Lafont, N Domingo, F Chanussot, I Yousef. Phosphatidylcholine-enriched diet prevents gallstone formation in mice susceptible to cholelithiasis. Journal of Lipid Research. Vol 44, Issue 12. P2297-2303. Dec 01, 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1194/jlr.M300180-JLR200.
- Hartmann P, Szabó A, Eros G, Gurabi D, Horváth G, Németh I, Ghyczy M, Boros M. Anti-inflammatory effects of phosphatidylcholine in neutrophil leukocyte-dependent acute arthritis in rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Nov 10;622(1-3):58-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.09.012. Epub 2009 Sep 18. PMID: 19766625.