The function of the PEMT gene is to make phosphatidylcholine which is a key ingredient to make your cell membranes and transport fats out of the liver thus preventing fatty liver.
To make phosphatidylcholine your body needs lots of choline which is found in meat, liver, and eggs. The methyl donor SAMe is the cofactor for the PEMT gene and to make SAMe you need to have optimal methylation.
Vegans are likely to have a “dirty PEMT gene” even if they do not have SNPs in the PEMT gene since vegans are more likely to be deficient in the nutrient choline, vitamin B12, and vitamin B2 needed to support methylation and the PEMT gene.
If you are vegan or vegetarian and have gallbladder issues, SIBO, fatty liver, or difficulty digesting fats pay extra attention as you may need a phosphatidylcholine supplement.
Estrogen also stimulates the PEMT gene to make phosphatidylcholine but during menopause estrogen levels drop so many menopausal women may find it increasingly difficult to lose weight, develop gallbladder problems, have an increased intolerance to fats or develop SIBO due to decreased phosphatidylcholine production.
One of the most important jobs of the PEMT gene is to make phosphatidylcholine which is needed to make healthy cell membranes for EVERY cell in your body!
Everyday cells die and need to be replaced. The PEMT gene is constantly working to make healthy cell membranes day in and day out.
Phosphatidylcholine helps to keep cell membranes fluid so that nutrients can be transported inside the cell and waste can be transported out.
A healthy cell membrane also acts as an external wall protecting the contents inside the cell such as your mitochondria and DNA from damage. A pretty darn important job!
The mitochondria are responsible for producing energy in the body and are especially prone to damage if not protected by a healthy cell membrane. In fact, without a cell membrane, the cell will die.
Fatigue is a symptom associated with a PEMT gene mutation and unhealthy mitochondria. Phosphatidylcholine deficiency can lead to unhealthy leaky cell membranes that don’t protect your mitochondria very well. As a result, mitochondria become damaged and cannot produce energy efficiently thus resulting in fatigue.
It’s all about connecting the dots then fueling your body with essential nutrients found in real whole foods so that these crucial enzymes and processes can function optimally.
Primary roles and benefits of phosphatidylcholine in the body
- An essential component of cell membranes
- Phosphatidylcholine is a key nutrient required during pregnancy and breastfeeding as anytime you are making a lot of new cells such as growing a baby the need for phosphatidylcholine is increased
- Phosphatidylcholine is needed for optimal gallbladder health as phosphatidylcholine helps your bile to flow smoothly out of the gallbladder to aid in fat digestion and liver detoxification
- phosphatidylcholine is crucial to prevent small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and all the gut health issues associated with SIBO as phosphatidylcholine promotes bile flow and bile is ANTIMICROBIAL. Bile is one of your bodies natural defenses to prevent SIBO and optimize the terrain (this is HUGE)
- Phosphatidylcholine also helps to transport fats out of the liver. If someone is deficient in phosphatidylcholine or has SNP’s in the PEMT gene non-alcoholic fatty liver can develop
- phosphatidylcholine is also essential for nerve function, muscle movement, and brain development.
Common symptoms of a PEMT gene mutation or phosphatidylcholine deficiency include:
- Poor fat digestion
- Gallbladder problems
- Inflammation (leaky cell membranes leak contents out of the cell, thus upregulating the immune system and causing inflammation)
- Muscle pain or soreness
- Elevated triglycerides
- Fatty Liver
A fatty liver is an underlying cause of insulin resistance and difficulty losing weight. So, if you are doing everything right yet the weight just won’t budge, a fatty liver due to poor methylation, SNPs in the PEMT gene, or choline deficiency may be the reason why you can’t lose the excess weight.
The liver is often struggling in people who have excess weight and insulin resistance. Phosphatidylcholine is crucial for liver health by stimulating detoxification by promoting bile flow and transporting fats out of the liver to prevent the accumulation of fats in the liver.
Fatty liver leads to insulin resistance as there is very little room for glycogen (the stored form of sugar) to be stored. When glucose can no longer be stored in the liver due to a fatty liver, insulin resistance begins to develop in the liver and blood sugar levels rise.
Phosphatidylcholine is required for the assembly of and secretion of VLDL fats from the liver. Without adequate phosphatidylcholine fat and cholesterol accumulate in the liver.
One of the most common improvements that I see in clients I have worked with when supplementing with phosphatidylcholine is improved bowel movements.
The reason for improvements in bowel movements is because phosphatidylcholine stimulates bile flow from the gallbladder and bile stimulates peristalsis of the intestinal tract which helps to relieve sluggish bowels.
Constipation or suboptimal bowel movements are often associated with a sluggish gallbladder, phosphatidylcholine deficiency, and SNPs in the PEMT gene.
Reversing fatty liver and improving liver detoxification and bowel movements are key for weight loss and optimal health for anybody!
Phosphatidylcholine is also important for preventing and healing leaky gut. The cells lining the gut are 1 cell layer thick and are constantly being replaced every few days…. and what does every cell need? A healthy cell membrane and a well-functioning PEMT gene to produce phosphatidylcholine.
Your skin cells are also replaced every few weeks and new healthy skin cells require ample supply of phosphatidylcholine.
Muscle pain and weakness are also associated with poor functioning cell membranes as muscle cell membranes are fragile. When cell membranes break down the decline triggers inflammation and sore muscles.
Both supplements contain ample amounts of phosphatidylcholine. Optimal PC is in a capsule form and Optimal PC Liquid is in a liquid form. When trying a new supplement for the first time I like to start with the lower dose and then increase as needed which can easily be done with the Optimal PC Liquid.
Phosphatidylcholine was my ‘magic nutrient’ and is one of my favorite nutrients for all the reasons noted above.
The 2 nutrients required for the PEMT gene to function is choline and the methyl donor SAMe.
Foods rich in Choline include liver, eggs, soybean lecithin, sunflower lecithin, chicken, beef, salmon, cod, shitake mushrooms, and soy flour which are the highest choline foods.
Additional choline food sources that are lower in choline include lima beans, lentils, mung beans, chickpeas, flaxseeds, peas, sundried tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, beets and broccoli
According to Dr. Ben Lynch, 70% of the SAMe produce by your methylation cycle is used by your PEMT gene to make phosphatidylcholine. This only leaves 30% of the SAMe produced for the other 200 plus process that depend upon SAMe to function.
Using a phosphatidylcholine supplement bypasses the PEMT gene by supplying the end product and taking the work load off the PEMT gene and methylation. By supporting the PEMT gene with phosphatidylcholine SAMe is freed up to support the other 200 other processes in the body.
Your PEMT gene is so important that 70% of methylation is used to phosphatidylcholine.
Eating foods with choline and nutrients needed for methylation is crucial for the ability of the PEMT gene to function optimally and to prevent fatty liver, SIBO, gallbladder problems, insulin resistance, and poor fat digestion.
Dirty Genes by Dr Ben Lynch