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J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Nov-Dec;19(6):768-70.

The effect of lecithin supplementation on plasma choline concentrations during a marathon.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.



Previous studies have shown that plasma and urinary free choline concentrations decrease significantly during a marathon, and that these decreases may be associated with decreased performance.


In a pilot study, we sought to determine whether lecithin supplementation prior to a marathon would maintain plasma free and urinary choline concentrations and improve performance versus placebo.


12 accomplished marathon runners, males (7) and females (5), 21 to 50 years of age were randomized to receive lecithin (4 capsules BID; PhosChol 900) or placebo beginning one day prior to the 2000 Houston-Methodist Health Care Marathon. The lecithin supplement provided approximately 1.1 g of choline on a daily basis (2.2 g total). Runners estimated finish time based on recent performance and training. Fasting, pre- and post-marathon plasma and a five-hour urine collection were analyzed for free choline and plasma for phospholipid-bound choline. Pre-race predicted, as well as the actual finish time, were recorded.


All subjects completed the marathon. Plasma free choline decreased significantly in the placebo group and increased significantly in the lecithin group (9.6 +/- 3.6 to 7.0 +/- 3.6 nmol/mL vs. 8.0 +/- 1.2 to 11.7 +/- 3.6 nmol/mL, p = 0.001 for the delta between groups). No significant changes in plasma phospholipid-bound choline concentration were observed. There was a non-significant decrease in urine free choline in both groups. Actual finish time was 256.3 +/- 46.3 minutes for the lecithin group vs. 240.8 +/- 62.0 for the placebo group and the actual:predicted time was 1.03 +/- 0.06 (lecithin) and 1.07 +/- 0.08 (placebo), p = 0.36.


Short-term lecithin supplementation prior to a marathon maintains normal plasma free choline concentration during the race, but failed to improve performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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