Is soy lecithin bad for you?

Soy lecithin is one of the food additives that is used most frequently these days. However, soy lecithin does not come along without any criticism, like many foods. Many people think it might be harmful to their health. Learn more about soy lecithin inside.

Lecithin is a food ingredient that can be found in a variety of plant and animal tissues, including those found in milk, soy, sunflower, and eggs. Many food items, cosmetic and beauty products, and even medications include soy lecithin, which is frequently used to extend the shelf life of products. Additionally, it assists in the preservation of flavor and serves as a lubricant or emulsifier to give your items the proper consistency and texture.

So, is soy lecithin good or bad for me? In general, soy lecithin is regarded as a healthy food ingredient even for people with celiac issues as soy lecithin is gluten-free. It’s unlikely to cause any potential side effects because it is consumed in minute quantities. However, some individuals may experience negative side effects like diarrhea, nausea, or stomach pain.

What is Soy lecithin?

The greatest source of soy lecithin is raw soybeans, from which soy oil is synthesized using a chemical reagent. When soy oil is mixed with water, the lecithin component then develops, separates from the oil, and is ultimately dried out.

Nutritional value of soy lecithin

The USDA provides the following nutritional information for 100g of soy lecithin [1]:

Calories 763 kcals
Fats 100 g
Saturated Fats 15 g
Carbohydrates 0 g 
Sugar 0 g
Protein 0 g
Fiber 0 g

Why is lecithin bad for you?

A most common question people are usually concerned about is how safe is soy lecithin for adult consumption? Lecithin is probably regarded as safe when taken orally as a supplement in doses of up to 30 grams every day for up to 6 weeks.

However, some people may experience negative effects from taking soy lecithin, such as feelings of fullness, nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain. Even those who are allergic to soy or eggs may experience allergic reactions to lecithin.

Does soy lecithin increase estrogen?

Most often utilized as a food additive, soy lecithin improves the flavor and texture of a variety of foods. There is no safety concern with its relationship to estrogen because it is added in moderate concentrations.

Moreover, soy does not boost estrogen. It’s regarded as an “estrogen blocker.” Unless you have a hormonal imbalance or any severe medical condition or use soy products at higher levels, estrogen in males and females does not get significantly changed by foods. Therefore, you can take it without worrying.

What soy lecithin does to your body?

Even though there are some possible drawbacks, soy lecithin can also be utilized as a therapeutic agent too.

The following are some advantages of using soy lecithin in your products or using a soy lecithin supplement:

May reduce cholesterol levels

Soy lecithin helps decrease cholesterol and is one of soy lecithin’s most well-known health advantages. The body’s ability to break down lipids can be improved by soy lecithin, which significantly raises good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol levels in the body [2].

Enhances cardiovascular health

Products containing soy lecithin have been shown to benefit cardiovascular health in people who are at risk of heart disease or high blood pressure. As a result of its ability to reduce bad cholesterol, it minimizes artery fat accumulation and thereby lowers the risk of cardiovascular ailments.

Promotes digestion

Since soy lecithin is considered to be a great emulsifier, it assists in enhancing the mucus in your intestines, which facilitates digestion and protects the digestive system. IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and ulcerative colitis patients may benefit from it [3].

Beneficial for breastfeeding women

Breast duct blockage is something that lecithin can help with. A minimal amount of soy lecithin added to your diet each day can help thin breast milk, reducing the risk of breast infections and milk duct obstructions and blockages [4].

Can prevent osteoporosis

To prevent osteoporosis, soybean and soy-based compounds, such as soy lecithin, operate as antiresorptive and bone-enhancing agents. This is caused by the isoflavones, which are present in large quantities in soy-based products.

Enhances overall mental health and performance

Choline, a substance found in lecithin, helps to improve general brain function and raise mental alertness. Lecithin may even be used to treat people with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s or other ailments that damage the nervous system [5].

Offer benefits for your skin

Soy lecithin, which is used in skincare products, can support soothing and moisturizing the skin. Lecithin is frequently used as an emulsifier in cosmetics and beauty products, which encourages hydration and raises the skin’s moisture content.

Provides choline as a source

Phosphatidylcholine, one of the main forms of choline, is widely found in soy lecithin. It is a macronutrient essential for healthy liver function, muscular movement, metabolism, the transmission of nerve impulses, and brain development.

What are the side effects of soy lecithin?

Consuming soy lecithin may have a lot of possible advantages, but you should be informed of its health risks and side effects before deciding to consume foods or supplements containing it.

May Increase cancer risk

Soy contains a substance called phytoestrogen that lowers the body’s natural amounts of estrogen. The risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, is significantly enhanced when soy lecithin is regularly consumed. These phytoestrogens have been linked to reduced sperm counts, infertility, an imbalance in testosterone, and an increased risk of cancer in males [6].

Could result in birth defects

Genistein is a substance found in both soy and soy lecithin that may be harmful to the reproductive system and result in infertility. A study found that consuming soy components or soy-based products can cause birth defects [7].

Might result in diseases and nutrient deficiencies

One of the reasons soy lecithin is frequently neglected is that almost all soy products in society today are extracted from GMO (genetically modified organism) based crops. As a result, soy and products made from it are associated with several health risks, such as a higher risk of cancer, sterility, and other potential vitamin deficiencies.

Could lead to allergic reactions

In addition, soy lecithin is frequently contaminated with a variety of chemicals and insecticides, which might make sensitive people allergic to it. People who are allergic to soy and soy products might experience some soy lecithin adverse effects and allergies.

Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and loss of appetite are some of the most frequent adverse effects associated with soy lecithin use.

Might result in liver and kidney diseases

Hexane, a dangerous chemical solvent, is used in the extraction of soy lecithin. In addition to glue and varnish, this chemical is utilized as a chemical solvent. Long-term exposure to these poisons and chemical solvents may result in kidney and liver illness [8].

Is soy lecithin a carcinogen?

Isoflavones, which are regarded as plant estrogens, are present in soy lecithin and soy-based products. The increased incidence of breast cancer in women has been linked to high levels of estrogen levels. 

Consuming high quantities of soy lecithin might increase your risk of developing cancer, especially breast cancer in women and infertility in men. These substances can affect testosterone levels in males, which can lead to infertility, low sperm counts, and an increased risk of cancer. As a result, soy lecithin is considered to be a carcinogen [9].

How to avoid soy lecithin

Foods containing soy lecithin should be avoided by persons who have severe allergies to soy products.  Those who don’t notice any negative effects from taking soy lecithin as an emulsifier but still want to avoid eating GMO foods should choose purely organic food items. A good substitute is sunflower lecithin and egg yolks, as both can have a comparable impact on food products.


What time of day is ideal for taking lecithin?

Products containing lecithin are a quick and efficient health shortcut. Soy lecithin should ideally be consumed before breakfast and dinner, as advised. Additionally, young people might consume it to enhance their nervous system and brain functionality.

Can soy lecithin help you grow hair?

The protein needed for hair growth is widely found in soy lecithin, thus, it helps to improve the texture and appearance of your hair by adding shine or luster. A barrier that effectively absorbs and maintains moisture is formed on the skin and hair due to the high concentration of fatty acids in soy lecithin.

How many lecithin capsules can breastfeeding women take?

Repeated milk duct blockages are believed to be treated with lecithin consumption. Consuming around 3600mg to 4800mg of lecithin per day or intake of 1 capsule of 1200 mg three to four times per day is commonly recommended for treating clogged milk ducts in breastfeeding women. Women who are breastfeeding can reduce the dosage by one capsule after a week or two when they observe no further blockage.

Wrapping Up

Numerous naturally produced fatty compounds can be found in the tissues of both plants and animals and are collectively referred to as “lecithin”. Specifically, soybeans are used to extract soy lecithin, which is frequently used as an emulsifier to provide the right texture and consistency to several food items.

Even while soy lecithin may have several health advantages, it is still frequently made from genetically modified soy, so whenever possible, look out for some organic alternatives. Remember that soy lecithin includes isoflavones, which might cause cancer when consumed in large quantities.


  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “FoodData Central: Oil, Soybean lecithin.” U.S. Department of Agriculture , Agricultural Research Service, (2019).
  2. National Library of Medicine. “Influence of Soy Lecithin Administration on Hypercholesterolemia.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, (2010).
  3. National Library of Medicine. “Effect of pectin, lecithin, and antacid feed supplements (Egusin®) on gastric ulcer scores, gastric fluid pH and blood gas values in horses.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, (2014).
  4. National Library of Medicine. “BOOKS: Lecithin – Drugs and Lactation Database.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, (2021).
  5. National Library of Medicine. “Lecithin in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”, (1983).
  6. Iqra Bilal. “Phytoestrogens and prevention of breast cancer: The contentious debate.” World J Clin Oncol vol. 5,4 (2014): 705-712. 
  7. Elsa C. Dinsdale. “Early Exposure to Soy Isoflavones and Effects on Reproductive Health: A Review of Human and Animal Studies.” Nutrients vol. 2,11 (2010): 1156–1187. 
  8. National Library of Medicine. “Feeding soy protein isolate and n-3 PUFA affects polycystic liver disease progression in a PCK rat model of autosomal polycystic kidney disease.”, (2015).
  9. National Library of Medicine. “Carcinogen.” National Human Genome Research Institute, (2022).
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