Phosphatidylcholine: Benefits, Dosing, Where To Buy, And More!

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Key Information

Natural Choline Source

Can Improve Memory And Learning

May Improve Physical Performance

May Improve Mood

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Phosphatidylcholine – An Overview

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Phosphatidylcholine makes up a significantly proportion of the other the cell membranes in your body

Phosphatidylcholine is a phospholipid that forms a critical part of the membrane in each cell in your body.

It makes up about 30% of the lipids in your cells, making it one of the most abundant compounds in your nervous system.

This makes it a very important substance that can affect many different aspects of cognition and physical health.

It can be great choice as an overall holistic nootropic for many people.1James Meschino. Choline and Phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin) Natural Health Products Compendium2Nature Publishing Group. Phosphatidylcholine Lipidomics Gateway 2009

In fact, the futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil claims to get PC injections every week to maintain his youth.3Gary Wolf. Ray Kurzweil Pulls Out All the Stops (and Pills) to Survive to the Singularity Wired. 2000

Although you might not want to go quite that far, supplementing with phosphatidylcholine can help with:

  • Memory and learning
  • Cognition
  • Forming neural connections
  • Neuroprotection
  • Physical performance

PC is present is some food, like eggs and beef.

Most supplemental choline is in the form of lecithin, which usually contains 10-20 percent Phosphatidylcholine.

However, more concentrated forms of phosphatidylcholine are now available, which are generally labeled as Phosphatidylcholine (not lecithin).

This can have a more pronounced benefit for users because phosphatidylcholine can raise blood concentrations of choline 12x higher than other choline sources.4Hirsch MJ, Growdon JH, Wurtman RJ. Relations between dietary choline or lecithin intake, serum choline levels, and various metabolic indices Metabolism. 1978

This supplement works as a nootropic by increasing flow of acetylcholine (ACh).

This is a critical neurotransmitter involved in memory, learning, and overall cognition.

PC is also a necessary building block in cell membranes, so keeping proper levels can ensure that your body has enough to repair damaged cells and grow new ones.

This can have a profound effect on brain health and mental function.5Wang L, et al. Dietary uridine-5′-monophosphate supplementation increases potassium-evoked dopamine release and promotes neurite outgrowth in aged rats J Mol Neurosci. 2005

What Does Phosphatidylcholine Do?

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Phosphatidylcholine may have some clinically significant effects on mood.

Phosphatidylcholine For Depression

There is some evidence that phosphatidylcholine can treat clinical depression and raise the mood in combination with other therapies.

This is probably due to its action on the acetylcholine system, and its ability to repair brain cells that may be damaged.

According to one study, PC may be effective in treating bipolar depression when supervised by a trained professional.6James Meschino. Choline and Phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin) Natural Health Products Compendium

Multiple small studies and case reports suggest that supplementation with phosphatidylcholine 15 g to 30 g/day reduces the severity of both mania and depression in bipolar patients.

They also saw that symptoms recur when phosphatidylcholine supplementation stops.7Cohen BM, Lipinski JF, Altesman RI. Lecithin in the treatment of mania: double-blind, placebo-controlled trials Am J Psychiatry. 1982

PC may also lower a hormone called homocysteine, which can cause neurotransmitter deficiency. There is an association between increased homocysteine levels and depression.8Enko D, et al. Association between increased plasma levels of homocysteine and depression observed in individuals with primary lactose malabsorption PLoS One. 20189Olthof MR, et al. Choline supplemented as phosphatidylcholine decreases fasting and postmethionine-loading plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy men Am J Clin Nutr. 2005


There is some preliminary evidence that supplementing with PC during pregnancy may prevent the development of schizophrenia as the child grows.

This is an interesting finding, and it most likely linked to how critical phosphatidylcholine is during early childhood development.10Ross RG, et al. Perinatal choline effects on neonatal pathophysiology related to later schizophrenia risk Am J Psychiatry. 2013

Phosphatidylcholine For Anxiety

One large population study of 5918 Norweigan subjects and found that blood concentrations of choline were inversely related to anxiety.

This is a promising initial finding, although more research is needed. 11Bjelland I, et al. Choline in anxiety and depression: the Hordaland Health Study Am J Clin Nutr. 2009


Unfortunately, clinical trials using Phosphatidylcholine in Alzheimer’s disease are largely disappointing.12James Meschino. Choline and Phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin) Natural Health Products Compendium

Phosphatidylcholine For Memory and Learning

One of phosphatidylcholine’s biggest impacts is on memory and learning.

This is because it can provide extra choline and acetylcholine, which are critical for encoding and storing new information.

PC is critical for membrane plasticity, which improves what’s called “long-term potentiation.” Long term potentiation is the process behind forming new memories.13Long term potentiation Wikipedia

There are a few animal and human studies that suggest PC has a nootropic effect on memory.

A study focusing on healthy students saw that PC significantly improved “explicit memory” after ingestion.

Explicit memory refers to conscious long-term memory that is easily and intentionally recalled and recited.

This could obviously be a huge help to students or anyone else looking for a nootropic boost.14Ladd SL, et al. Effect of phosphatidylcholine on explicit memory Clin Neuropharmacol. 1993

One trial looked at elderly participants who took lecithin for 5 weeks.

At the end of the group that took this PC-containing supplement scored significantly better on memory tests than the  placebo group.

The participants who supplemented also self-reported better memory and mood.15Florence Safford, Barry Baumel. Testing the Effects of Dietary Lecithin on Memory in the Elderly: An Example of Social Work/ Medical Research CollaborationResearch on Social Work Practice. 1994

A rat study from Japan also seems to support the idea that PC can improve memory processing, at least in animals with dementia.16Chung SY, et al. Administration of phosphatidylcholine increases brain acetylcholine concentration and improves memory in mice with dementia J Nutr. 1995

Phosphatidylcholine For Athletes

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PC may have serious advantages for athletes and active people

PC does not only have benefits for the brain, but the body as well. It is naturally present in all human cells, and there is some evidence that supplementing with it can influence physical performance.

Athletes might consider phosphatidylcholine as a workout supplement. Optimal muscle performance depends on sufficiently available choline for acetylcholine synthesis.

Phosphatidylcholine supplementation can increase plasma choline concentration in humans before a strenuous activity and might improve performance.17von Allwörden HN, Horn S, Kahl J, Feldheim W. The influence of lecithin on plasma choline concentrations in triathletes and adolescent runners during exercise Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1993

There is also preliminary evidence that PC can potentially burn fat (although the research so far has only looked at injections).18Reeds DN, et al. Metabolic and structural effects of phosphatidylcholine and deoxycholate injections on subcutaneous fat: a randomized, controlled trial Aesthet Surg J. 2013

Does Phosphatidyl Choline Help The Liver?

PC can have protective effects on the liver. Research shows it can prevent and repair damage to this organ caused by many issues.

Phosphatidylcholine is an integral part of plasma lipoproteins, which transport fat and cholesterol out of the liver, a vital process.19Sergio O.Serna-Saldivar Janet A.Gutiérrez-Uribe SilverioGarcía-Lara. Phytochemical Profiles and Nutraceutical Properties of Corn and Wheat Tortillas Tortillas. 2015

In Germany, phosphatidylcholine is authorized for the treatment of the following liver disorders:20James Meschino. Choline and Phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin) Natural Health Products Compendium

  • Acute viral hepatitis
  • Alcohol – induced fatty liver
  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Decreased bile solubility (i.e. estrogen replacement therapy)
  • Diabetic fatty liver
  • Drug-induced liver damage
  • Toxic liver damage

Phosphatidylcholine supplementation also protects against alcohol-induced liver abnormalities and cirrhosis in baboons, and presumably, it exerts the same effects in humans.21Olthof MR, Brink EJ, Katan MB, Verhoef P. Choline supplemented as phosphatidylcholine decreases fasting and postmethionine-loading plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy men Am J Clin Nutr. 2005

How Phosphatidylcholine Works In The Brain

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Phosphatidylcholine makes up a significant portion of your nervous system

Phosphatidylcholine works through several different pathways to achieve it’s nootropic and health benefits.

This substance (along with phosphatidylserine) makes up the outer layer of every cell membrane in the human body.

This makes it crucial for maintaining cellular health and structure.

Without enough phosphatidylcholine, your cells will eventually degrade and die. This problem gets worse as you age.22Zweigner J, et al. Bacterial inhibition of phosphatidylcholine synthesis triggers apoptosis in the brain J Exp Med. 2004

PC is a rich source of choline, which is crucial for sustaining life. It modulates the basic signaling processes within cells, is a structural element in membranes, and is vital during critical periods in brain development.

Supplementing with a choline source like PC can ensure your body has adequate choline levels, which can have a holistic effect across the board.23Zeisel SH, Blusztajn JK. Choline and human nutrition Annu Rev Nutr. 1994

Phosphatidylcholine also increases biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh.)

This neurotransmitter is very closely involved in many aspects of cognition. Especially learning and memory.

PC also metabolizes into other lipids that are necessary for long-term memory formation and storage. So, supplementing with PC can have a big nootropic effect in this regard.24John H. Growdon. Use of Phosphatidylcholine in Brain Diseases: An Overview Lecithin. 198725MJ Hirsch, RJ Wurtman. Lecithin consumption increases acetylcholine concentrations in rat brain and adrenal gland Science. 197826Wurtman RJ, Hirsch MJ, Growdon JH. Lecithin consumption raises serum-free-choline levels Lancet. 1977

Supplementation of phosphatidylcholine could lead to better transport of vitamin E, which overcome the oxidative damage to activities of the brain.27Bruno Mesmin, Bruno Antonny. Vitamin Currency in a Lipid Exchange Market Science. 2013

Phosphatidylcholine vs Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylcholine and its related lipid phosphatidylserine are both popular nootropic compounds that are used for memory and brain health.

They are similar in function and structure and are both crucial for building and maintaining healthy neurons.

However, despite their significant overlap, there are some differences in the benefits they provide.

For this reason, many people stack both of these nootropics so they can maximize their effects.

How Much Phosphatidylcholine Should I Take?

The standard dosage recommendation is 350 mg, three times daily with meals. However, most people can dose with up to 5 grams daily with no side effects.

Phosphatidylcholine Potential Side Effects

Phosphatidylcholine is produced by your body naturally, and is completely non-toxic.

In almost all clinical trials, PC has been well tolerated and free from toxic side effects

That said, if your body already produces plenty of choline, you might not see any benefits, or even experience some negatives.

At higher dosages, Phosphatidylcholine may cause the following mild side effects:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Diarrhea

Phosphatidylcholine Amazon Reviews

[su_quote cite=”Bowtiebuddy” url=”″]During the day it works well to boost clarity of thought, energy and focus/attention. I take it mainly for that. I have noticeable increased attention to my internal dialogue. I feel like I can think to myself faster and can shift between external stimuli and internal thought without losing focus.[/su_quote][su_quote cite=”James Quin” url=”″]Since I started taking this about 5 years ago, my brain is supercharged. I never get tired of thinking. You actually need to be careful not to take it in the afternoon or evening as it will keep you awake. Not in a druggy speed kind of way, just in a ‘my brain ins’t tired’ kind of way.[/su_quote]

[su_quote cite=”Les Roberts” url=”″]I find that im able to focus better and thinking is much clearer. One unexpected and surprise benefit for me is that my usual aches and pains don’t seem to be there. [/su_quote]

Wrapping Up

Do you have questions about, supplementing with Phosphatidylcholine? Do you have experience supplementing with Phosphatidylcholine? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

2 responses to “Phosphatidylcholine: Benefits, Dosing, Where To Buy, And More!”

  1. Lauren Avatar

    Hi, my naturopathic doctor recommended that my son and I take phosphatidylcholine as per our dna results. Is there a pediatric dosage or recommendation? Is there a specific organic or natural source I should look for or do they all come from soy? I’m only finding soy based products.

    1. Erik Levi Avatar

      Hi Lauren, great question. Because PC is a component of soy lecithin you’re only going to find this product as soy based, however I have heard (anecdotally) from people with soy sensitivities that PC isn’t a problem for them. For pediatrics depending on age optimal dosage is around 250mg/day. Hope that helps!

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