What Type of Lipid is Lecithin?

What is, lecithin, exactly? It’s even in our name here at National Lecithin! Lecithin, also known by its biochemical name Phosphatidylcholine, falls under phospholipids. Phospholipids consist of fat-like material essential to cell metabolism and structure. Lecithin structure comprises esters of glycerol, phosphoric acid, fatty acids, and choline. In addition, it contains a mixture of acetone-insoluble phosphatides, which consist of the following:

  • Phosphatidylcholine
  • Phosphatidic acid
  • Phosphatidylethanolamine
  • Phosphatidylinositol
  • Phosphatidylserine

The food and Nutritional Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends daily choline intake in soybean oil. Lecithin is also present in cotton seeds, rapeseeds, and sunflowers. In addition, animal products like egg yolk, marine foods, and milk contain lecithin.

What Type of Compound is Lecithin?

Lecithin occurs naturally in soybeans as a mixture of phospholipids, fatty acids, and triglycerides. In the body, lecithin is essential in synthesizing, releasing, and availability of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Lecithin, as a compound, plays an essential role in cell membrane permeability. As a result, people with low choline levels tend to experience manic symptoms and bipolar disorder.

There are different types of lecithin, and they differ based on the position, degree, and chain length of unsaturated fatty acids.

  • Commercial lecithin color ranges from brown to light yellow with plastic or liquid consistency.
  • Pure lecithin appears whitish but assumes a darker shade when exposed to air. It has a waxy texture.

Production of Lecithin 

Lecithin extraction is chemically done using solvents like acetone, hexane, benzene, and ethanol. Due to its low solubility in water, lecithin is an excellent emulsifier. In addition, lecithin, as a phospholipid in its aqueous state, can form bilayer sheets, liposomes, micelles, or lamellar structures depending on the temperature it’s subjected to and hydration.

Companies commercially produce lecithin as food manufacturers often use it. The lecithin is obtained by water degumming the oil extracted from soybeans. Due to the presence of genetically modified crops in the market, people tend to opt for other sources of lecithin. Companies produce lecithin in its purified form and commercial state.

Soy lecithin is hydrolyzed to make it suitable for use. Lecithin hydrolysis is the removal of a portion of the phospholipid by phospholipase. Phospholipids lacking a fatty acid are known as lysophospholipids. In addition, lecithin is also modified by fractionation, whereby it mixes with ethanol. The ethanol is separated from the sludge by evaporation and leaves behind a phosphatidylcholine lecithin-rich fraction.

Applications of Lecithin 

Lecithin has several uses, which include:

  • Lecithin in animal feeds helps to improve pelletization as it’s rich in fats and proteins.
  • Lecithin is a wetting and stabilizing agent in the pharmaceutical industry. As lecithin is rich in choline, it helps emulsify and encapsulate drugs.
  • In the paint industry, lecithin helps form a protective coating that acts as a rust inhibitor and color-intensifying agent. In addition, it helps the paint maintain uniformity when using a mixture of pigments.
  • When introduced into a dough, lecithin stabilizes fertilization and lowers the need to add eggs and fat.
  • Lecithin is used to manufacture chocolate and candy bars as it controls sugar crystallization and holds the ingredients together, like cocoa and cocoa butter.

Adding Lecithin to Your Edibles 

There is an increased use of lecithin in the marijuana edible market. Lecithin is an emulsifier making it suitable to combine oil and water as they naturally repel each other. The bond facilitates an even distribution of cannabis in your product. In addition, lecithin for cannabis edibles improves the degree and rate at which the body absorbs cannabinoids.

The lecithin added to soy lecithin edibles assists in the breakdown of cannabinoids into little fats and bile acids called micelles. The micelles enable the cannabinoids to separate and encapsulate with water molecules. In this state, the THC bypasses the liver and is absorbed directly into the lymphatic system.

How to Add Lecithin to Edibles 

You can introduce lecithin to cannaoil during the infusion state as it blends perfectly into your edible recipe. For instance, when making soy lecithin edibles like brownies, lecithin helps integrate the ingredients with an even distribution of cannabis oil. In addition, it helps ensure each serving has a proportional serving of cannabis oil.

Another method is adding lecithin to cannabutter after the infusion process to ensure the water and butter don’t combine. The standard ratio is a teaspoon of lecithin to a cup of oil.

When to Avoid Lecithin in Edibles 

It is equally important to know when not to add lecithin. Adding lecithin to a cannabutter infusion made with water can be a big disaster.

When cooking cannabutter, you can regularly add water to the pot as the temperatures keep fluctuating. The purpose of the water is to maintain the butter at an ideal temperature to prevent denaturation of the cannabinoids.

After the infusion, the water is discarded. Unfortunately, the introduction of lecithin before removing the water binds the water to the cannabutter, and the result is disastrous. The end product is soupy and undesirable, demanding that you discard it and start over again.

The use of lecithin in edibles lowers the duration of the THC effect. Lecithin allows faster absorption and, by doing so, reduces the prolonged effects of THC. Don’t use lecithin if you aim to enjoy prolonged psychotropic effects from the edibles.

Advantages of Lecithin in Edibles 

  • When used as an emulsifier, lecithin increases the bioavailability and metabolism of cannabis.
  • Infusion of lecithin and cannabutter ensures an even distribution of cannabis in the edibles.
  • Lecithin helps blend the melted butter and water when making edibles like pot gummies.
  • Stoners allergic to eggs can substitute them with lecithin when making edibles.
  • Lecithin blends perfectly with some oils like cannabis coconut oil, cannabis olive oil, and cannabis butter or ghee.
  • It helps amplify the effects of cannabis on its user without increasing the amount of cannabis used.

Bottom Line    

Lecithin is a phospholipid with emulsifying properties. Lecithin helps combine and bind oil and water products together, keeping the products stable. In addition, lecithin helps add shelf life. When used in making edibles, lecithin ensures an even distribution of cannabinoids over the product and increases the bioavailability and absorption of cannabis.

Contact us at National Lecithin today for all your lecithin needs. We can supply small quantities or truckloads for larger needs. We are your number one lecithin supplier, shipping all over the United States and Canada.