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Lecithin Basic information
Lecithin Chemical Properties
  • Density d424 1.0305
  • Flash point:57 °C
  • storage temp. 2-8°C
  • solubility chloroform: 0.1 g/mL, slightly hazy, slightly yellow to deep orange
  • form solution
  • color Pale Brown to Yellow
  • Water Solubility NEGLIGIBLE
  • Merck 14,5429
  • BRN 5209585
  • Stability:Stable, but light, heat, moisture and air-sensitive. Incompatible with strong oxidizing agents.
  • CAS DataBase Reference8002-43-5
  • EPA Substance Registry SystemLecithins (8002-43-5)
Safety Information
  • Hazard Codes 
  • Risk Statements 
  • Safety Statements 
  • WGK Germany 3
  • RTECS OG7565000
  • 1-8-10
  • TSCA Yes
  • HS Code 29239000
  • Hazardous Substances Data8002-43-5(Hazardous Substances Data)
  • ToxicityLD50 oral in rat: > 8mL/kg
  • Language:EnglishProvider:Lecithin
  • Language:EnglishProvider:ALFA
Lecithin Usage And Synthesis
  • DescriptionFood-grade lecithin is obtained from soybeans and other plant sources. It is a complex mixture of acetone-insoluble phosphatides that consists chiefly of phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl etha nolamine, and phosphatidyl inositol, combined with various amounts of other substances such as triglycerides, fatty acids, and carbohydrates. Refined grades of lecithin may contain any of these components in varying proportions and combinations depending on the type of fractionation used. In its oil-free form, the prepon-derance of triglycerides and fatty acids is removed and the product contains 90% or more of phosphatides representing all or certain fractions of the total phosphatide complex. The consistency of both natural grades and refined grades of lecithin may vary from plastic to fluid, depending upon free fatty acid and oil content, and upon the presence or absence of other diluents. Its color varies from light yellow to brown, depending on the source, on crop variations, and on whether it is bleached or unbleached. It is odorless or has a characteristic, slight nutlike odor and a bland taste. Edible diluents, such as cocoa butter and vegetable oils, often replace soybean oil to improve functional and flavor characteris tics. Lecithin is only partially soluble in water, but it readily hydrates to form emulsions. The oil-free phosphatides are soluble in fatty acids, but are practically insoluble in fixed oils. When all phosphatide fractions are present, lecithin is partially soluble in alcohol and practically insoluble in acetone.
  • Chemical PropertiesLecithins vary greatly in their physical form, from viscous semiliquids to powders, depending upon the free fatty acid content. They may also vary in color from brown to light yellow, depending upon whether they are bleached or unbleached or on the degree of purity. When they are exposed to air, rapid oxidation occurs, also resulting in a dark yellow or brown color.
    Lecithins have practically no odor. Those derived from vegetable sources have a bland or nutlike taste, similar to that of soybean oil.
  • Chemical Propertiessolid
  • OccurrenceLecithin is found in foods such as eggs, beef liver, and peanuts. Commercial sources are available
  • UsesEdible and digestible surfactant and emulsifier of natural origin. Used in margarine, chocolate and in the food industry in general. In pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Many other industrial uses, e.g. treating leather and textiles.
  • Useslecithin (hydrogenated) is an emulsifier.
  • Useslecithin is a natural emollient, emulsifier, anti-oxidant, and spreading agent, lecithin is a hydrophilic ingredient that attracts water and acts as a moisturizer. generally obtained for cosmetic products from eggs and soybeans, it is found in all living organisms.
  • Usesegg lecithin is emollient and particularly recommended for sensitive skin.
  • UsesLecithin is an emulsifier that is a mixture of phosphatides which are typically surface-active. it is now commercially obtained from soy- beans; previously it was obtained from egg yolk. it is used in marga- rine as an emulsifier and antispatter agent; in chocolate manufacture it controls flow properties by reducing viscosity and reducing the cocoa butter content from 3 to 5%; it is used as a wetting agent in cocoa powder, fillings, and beverage powders; an antisticking agent in griddling fat; and in baked goods to assist the shortening mix with other dough ingredients and to stabilize air cells. typical usage levels range from 0.1 to 1.0%.
  • DefinitionChEBI: A glycerophosphocholine compound having O-acyl substituents at both the 1- and 2-positions of the glycerol. It is a major constituent of cell membranes.
  • Production MethodsLecithins are essential components of cell membranes and, in principle, may be obtained from a wide variety of living matter. In practice, however, lecithins are usually obtained from vegetable products such as soybean, peanut, cottonseed, sunflower, rapeseed, corn, or groundnut oils. Soybean lecithin is the most commercially important vegetable lecithin. Lecithin obtained from eggs is also commercially important and was the first lecithin to be discovered.
    Vegetable lecithins are obtained as a by-product in the vegetable oil refining process. Polar lipids are extracted with hexane and, after removal of the solvent, a crude vegetable oil is obtained. Lecithin is then removed from the crude oil by water extraction. Following drying, the lecithin may be further purified.
    With egg lecithin, a different manufacturing process must be used since the lecithin in egg yolks is more tightly bound to proteins than in vegetable sources. Egg lecithin is thus obtained by solvent extraction from liquid egg yolks using acetone or from freeze-dried egg yolks using ethanol (95%).
    Synthetic lecithins may also be produced.
  • Pharmaceutical ApplicationsLecithins are used in a wide variety of pharmaceutical applications. They are also used in cosmetics and food products.
    Lecithins are mainly used in pharmaceutical products as dispersing, emulsifying, and stabilizing agents, and are included in intramuscular and intravenous injections, parenteral nutrition formulations, and topical products such as creams and ointments.
    Lecithins are also used in suppository bases, to reduce the brittleness of suppositories, and have been investigated for their absorption-enhancing properties in an intranasal insulin formulation. Lecithins are also commonly used as a component of enteral and parenteral nutrition formulations.
    There is evidence that phosphatidylcholine (a major component of lecithin) is important as a nutritional supplement to fetal and infant development. Furthermore, choline is a required component of FDA-approved infant formulas. Other studies have indicated that lecithin can protect against alcohol cirrhosis of the liver, lower serum cholesterol levels, and improve mental and physical performance.
    Liposomes in which lecithin is included as a component of the bilayer have been used to encapsulate drug substances; their potential as novel delivery systems has been investigated. This application generally requires purified lecithins combined in specific proportions.
    Therapeutically, lecithin and derivatives have been used as a pulmonary surfactant in the treatment of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome.
  • SafetyLecithin is a component of cell membranes and is therefore consumed as a normal part of the diet. Although excessive consumption may be harmful, it is highly biocompatible and oral doses of up to 80 g daily have been used therapeutically in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia. When used in topical formulations, lecithin is generally regarded as a nonirritant and nonsensitizing material. The Cosmetic Ingredients Review Expert Panel (CIR) has reviewed lecithin and issued a tentative report revising the safe concentration of the material from 1.95% to 15.0% in rinse-off and leave-in products. They note, however, that there are insufficient data to rule on products that are likely to be inhaled.
  • storageLecithins decompose at extreme pH. They are also hygroscopic and subject to microbial degradation. When heated, lecithins oxidize, darken, and decompose. Temperatures of 160–180°C will cause degradation within 24 hours.
    Fluid or waxy lecithin grades should be stored at room temperature or above; temperatures below 10°C may cause separation.
    All lecithin grades should be stored in well-closed containers protected from light and oxidation. Purified solid lecithins should be stored in tightly closed containers at subfreezing temperatures.
  • Purification MethodsLecithin from hen egg white is purified by solvent extraction and chromatography on alumina. It is suspended in H2O and kept frozen until required [Lee & Hunt J Am Chem Soc 106 7411 1984, Singleton et al. J Am Oil Chem Soc 42 53 1965]. For purification of commercial egg lecithin, see Pangborn [J Biol Chem 188 471 1951].
  • IncompatibilitiesIncompatible with esterases owing to hydrolysis.
  • Regulatory StatusGRAS listed. Accepted for use as a food additive in Europe. Included in the FDA Inactive Ingredients Database (inhalations; IM and IV injections; otic preparations; oral capsules, suspensions and tablets; rectal, topical, and vaginal preparations). Included in nonparenteral and parenteral medicines licensed in the UK. Included in the Canadian List of Acceptable Non-medicinal Ingredients.
Lecithin Preparation Products And Raw materials
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