Choline is an essential (essential for life) compound. Many sources call it vitamin B8, but it is not officially classified as a B-complex vitamin. In the human body, it occurs as a component of the cell wall - phosphatidylcholine (also known as lecithin) and as a hormone that establishes contact between nerve cells - acetylcholine.
Lecithin is a component of the cell wall. Cell walls have a precise composition, and small variations in composition can lead to loss of function. The cell wall provides protection, but it also plays a major role in communication betwee two cells. During the development of a nerve cell, the lecithin content of the cell wall determines the role that the cell play in the nervous system.
Studies have linked reduced lecithin levels to the risk of developing a number of neurological diseases - Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, Dementia. Lecithin supplementation may help to prevent and alleviate the aforementioned diseases. Adequate lecithin intake in childhood can stimulate brain development. And in adulthood, it can help maintain proper brain function - stimulating memory and concentration.
Lecithin is often paired in supplements with inositol, another cell wall compound, including inositol, which plays a role in healthy nerve cell connections. This increases the beneficial effects of lecithin on the brain.
Acetylcholine is the link between the muscle and nerve cell, without it our brain would not be able to function. In other words, acetylcholine is the hormone (neurotransmitter) that maintains the brain-muscle connection. But it also creates a connection between two nerve cells within the brain and thus plays a role in memory and the process of learning and sleep. In its absence, muscles strenght is reduced, general fatigue and sleep difficulties occur, and in Myasthenic Gravis, an autoimmune process results in the body damaging its own acetylcholine sensing 'receptors', causing a drastic reduction in the levels of acetylcholine.
The intake of lecithin, choline bitartrate and acetyl-l-carnitine can all increase the body's acetylcholine levels.
Lecithin is considered safe up to a daily dose of 300 mg, above which some people may experience insomnia and stomach discomfort.