Q&A: Is Soy Lecithin Paleo?



Hi Neely,

I just noticed that one of my supplements contains soy lecithin. I know it’s a by product of the soy after the oil has been extracted and according to the information I’ve attached, it is actually not very good for you, despite previous claims that it is excellent for many things. They say that even though it’s an extract there always remains some soy in it. Would you suggest I discontinue this stuff?

Thanks for your response.



Hi Mark,

Here’s what I think about soy lecithin.

No, I don’t like soy, my opinions of which are laid out here. It has many problems, like its phytic acid, lectin, phytoestrogen, and enzyme inhibitor content, and the fact that most soy is genetically modified. Please read that article for a more concise explanation of soy and my distaste for it. Besides all of this, that article you linked me to is a pretty horrendous account of the realities of soy lecithin. But regardless of my opinion and that article, soy in any form is not technically a Paleo food, since it’s a legume and it has all of those anti-nutrient properties I just mentioned. So if we’re going based off of the rules of the diet, no, you shouldn’t eat it.

Having said that, I don’t think that the tiny amounts of soy lecithin that are ubiquitous in supplements, chocolate, and all sorts of otherwise Paleo products are going to be the death of anyone (unless they have a life-threatening soy allergy). I think we pick our battles with Paleo, and sometimes soy lecithin wins. For instance, when I was a chocolate eater, before I realized that it gave me acne and ocular migraines, I didn’t give a damn whether my Almond Sea Salt Chocolove had soy lecithin in it. Much less sugar, because it was one of my “cheats”, if you will.

Now, having said THAT, I have to say that many people really do have serious soy sensitivities, and even a small amount of soy lecithin may bring about symptoms, especially if people are eating it every day. And yes, that amount really can affect someone. I had a client who was sensitive to soy (very sensitive), and she didn’t realize for a couple of MONTHS that she was consuming soy lecithin in her probiotic every day. She got very sick (fatigued, bloated, skin broke out) and only started to feel better after she changed her probiotic to a brand without soy. So let that be a lesson to us all.

In the end it’s, of course, up to you. Can you find a brand of that supplement that doesn’t contain soy lecithin? Probably. And you’re probably better off doing so.