Lecithin as a Dog Food Ingredient
We are now up to the letter L in our second pass through the A to Z Dog Food Ingredient series. Today’s dog food ingredient is Lecithin.
What is Lecithin?
Lecithin is a fatty substance found in plants and animals. It is produced naturally in the body.
Common names for Lecithin
Why is Lecithin in Dog Food?
Lecithin is added to dog food as an emulsifier, allowing oils and water to mix and to keep fats from separating. It acts as a preservative and can act as a moisturizer.
Is Lecithin Commonly Used in Dog Food?
Lecithin is included in about 12.5% of all dog foods.
Common Benefits or Risks of Lecithin
Besides its ability to emulsify fats and act as a preservative, lecithin can offer some nutritional benefits. First off, it is a source of choline, which is essential to every living cell in the body and is one of the main components of cell membranes. Without choline, the cell membranes would harden, prohibiting important nutrients from entering and leaving the cell.
Lecithin is also purported to provide additional benefits in improving brain function, depression, and treating liver and gall bladder disease, and some skin disorders (e.g. eczema). According to WebMD, most of these benefits are yet to be scientifically verified.
Lecithin appears to be safe for most normal dogs (and humans). Typical side effects of lecithin include vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, diminished appetite, and skin rashes.
Lecithin was originally extracted from egg yolks but today, a common source of lecithin is soy. Soy is a somewhat controversial ingredient (that we will write about in a future post) for dogs (and humans). If you are trying to avoid soy and soy products in your dog’s food, check with your food Brand to see from where their lecithin ingredients are originated. Some foods will list this directly on the label; a small percentage of the food labels explicitly list soy lecithin (vs. the generic lecithin) as an ingredient.
Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level
Lecithin can provide some health benefits and it is a preferred preservative and emulsifier to other artificial additives. However, due to the fact that there is a high probability that it is sourced from soy, we temper our enthusiasm and give lecithin a neutral rating.
Miscellaneous facts about Lecithin
Lecithin is found in a number of foods including egg yolks, fish, organ meats, soybeans, peanuts, and many other grains and legumes.
Lecithin is often used in baked food preparation, chocolate, margarine, and mayonnaise because of its ability to emulsify and preserve. It is also sometimes added to skin moisturizers and creams.
Some people use Lecithin to stimulate memory and learning function. I have heard of dog trainers who use lecithin supplementation before a training session.
Sources and further reading
We're joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol's Notes: