Phospholipids are an integral part of all cell membranes. Each phospholipid is made up of two fatty acids, a phosphate group, and a glycerol molecule.

Phospholipids play a key role in various body functions, supporting cognitive and cardiovascular health, liver function, and metabolism. Phospholipids are also known as the “molecule of life”. Without them, our cells wouldn’t function properly.

 

Phospholipids and omega-3s

Omega-3s are one of the most studied nutrients on Earth. The importance of omega-3s is well established. Research shows that a relative deficiency could increase the risk of heart attack nearly 10-fold in those with the lowest levels.

Even though many people are aware of the importance of omega-3, as found in a recent study from 2017 published in Nutrients, findings show that people still do not get enough omega-3s in their diets in comparison to the recommendation.

So where can you find both phospholipids AND omega-3s? Fatty fish are one source.

The other source? Krill oil.

In the wild Atlantic Salmon, its omega-3s are delivered in a mix of phospholipids and triglycerides. The same is also true for krill oil.

 

Phospholipids vs. triglycerides

One of the fundamental advantages of krill oil is that its omega-3s are mainly bound to phospholipids, whereas fish oil’s are bound to triglycerides. This important distinction has many different implications for the absorption, function and health effects of the omega-3s that you are taking.

The physical characteristics of triglycerides differ from phospholipids and this affects how they are tolerated by the body. One clear difference is that triglycerides don’t disperse and have a tendency to float on top of stomach fluids, which can result in the fishy burps often associated with fish oil supplements.

Specifically, one of the most immediate and noticeable benefits of krill oil is that you do not get that fishy aftertaste or burps, which consumers often complain about when taking an omega-3 supplement.Why? Phospholipid omega-3s do disperse in water and are easily blended in the stomach fluids.

Krill oil is hydrophilic (water loving) so it blends quite nicely in water. Fish oil on the other hand separates out and floats on the top. In this way it is easy to see why consumers might have trouble digesting omega-3s in triglyceride form only.

 

There’s more to phospholipids than mixing with water

Phospholipids do more than mix with water. They are part of the basic structure, make up of all our cells in the body and play an integral role in allowing our cells to function efficiently and stay healthy.

Better bioavailability

Phospholipids play an important role in delivering omega-3s to vital organs such as the brain, heart, liver and joints. Research has shown that phospholipid-bound omega-3s (in the EPA & DHA form) are better absorbed, due to better bioavailability and therefore more efficiently delivered to the places that need it most.

Raises the Omega-3 Index

Furthermore, krill oil significantly raises the Omega-3 Index, which is an important measure of your overall risk of cardiovascular disease, or heart disease. Measuring omega-3 levels is easy, and will help people identify and correct low levels to help maintain a healthy heart and reduce the risk of chronic disease.