Phospholipids: A Hidden Superpower for Your Well being


You’ve doubtless heard concerning the many advantages of omega-3 fat to your coronary heart, mind and extra, however when you’re consuming it in complement type, make certain it’s alongside phospholipids. Wild-caught salmon, sardines and sure different fish are glorious sources of the omega-3 fat eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).1

Nevertheless, as a result of most Individuals don’t devour a lot seafood, many depend on fish oil dietary supplements as an alternative. It is a mistake for just about anybody who makes this selection. It is because the chemical course of used to make most of those merchandise — trans-esterification — transforms the oil into an artificial product that’s far faraway from the pure fat you’d get when consuming sardines or different fatty fish.2

There are a lot of points with artificial fish oil, and absorption is just one of them. Free fatty acids of fish oil have an absorption price of a minimum of 95%. EPA in its pure triglyceride type had a 68% absorption price in a single examine, whereas ethyl ester types — the sort present in almost all fish oil dietary supplements — absorbed solely about 20% in addition to the free fatty acids.3

Not like krill oil — a superior supply of omega-3 fat — fish oil lacks any phospholipids. Analysis is now confirming simply how necessary the phospholipid element is in the case of gleaning all the advantages you’ll be able to out of your omega-3 fat.

Phospholipid Type of Omega-3 Helps Stop Visible Decline

Current research present a brand new lysophospholipid type of DHA (LPC-DHA) exhibits promise for stopping the visible decline that always happens alongside continual illnesses like Alzheimer’s and diabetes, based on a examine introduced on the 2023 annual assembly of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.4 Whereas the DHA in most fish oil dietary supplements can’t attain the retina, the place DHA concentrates, LPC-DHA crosses into the retina from the bloodstream.

“Rising the retinal DHA at clinically possible doses has not been attainable till now due to the specificity of the blood-retinal barrier that’s incompatible with the specificity of the intestinal barrier,” examine writer Sugasini Dhavamani defined. “This examine makes use of the novel strategy of dietary LPC-DHA that overcomes each intestinal and blood-retinal obstacles and improves retinal operate.”5

So as to attain the retina, the DHA should first be absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream and from there cross into the retina. The examine, which concerned mice, discovered that not solely did LPC-DHA enhance DHA within the retina, it diminished eye issues associated to Alzheimer’s illness.6 Mice fed LPC-DHA every day for six months had a 96% enhance in DHA and indicators that the construction of the retina was higher preserved.7

Low ranges of DHA within the retina are frequent in folks with Alzheimer’s, diabetes and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), and when you don’t have sufficient DHA within the retina it’s related to imaginative and prescient loss. Dhavamani defined:8

“Dietary LPC-DHA is enormously superior to TAG-DHA [triacylglycerol DHA, the type found in fish oil supplements] in enriching retinal DHA and may very well be doubtlessly useful for varied retinopathies in sufferers. This strategy supplies a novel therapeutic strategy for the prevention or mitigation of retinal dysfunction related to Alzheimer’s illness and diabetes.”

Whereas these actually are spectacular outcomes, they actually are usually not novel and basically replicate the traits of the phospholipids which are in krill and have been well-documented for a lot of a long time.

Krill Oil Protects In opposition to Cognitive Impairment

Usually, DHA and EPA are water insoluble and due to this fact can’t be transported of their free type in your blood. They have to be packaged into lipoprotein autos comparable to a phospholipid. That is primarily why the bioavailability of krill oil is a lot increased than fish oil, as a result of in fish oil, the DHA and EPA are certain to triglycerides.

Many research spotlight krill oil’s effectiveness, together with for mind well being. In an animal examine, krill oil had a useful impact on neuroinflammation and oxidative stress, that are related to the event of Alzheimer’s illness. In mice with Alzheimer’s illness, krill oil additionally inhibited reminiscence loss.9

Writing within the journal Neuroscience Analysis, scientists from Central Michigan College once more highlighted krill’s distinctive place to counteract neuroinflammatory processes, as a consequence of its phospholipids and extra useful compounds, like astaxanthin:10

“Just like the extra extensively studied fish oil, KO [krill oil] incorporates the lengthy chain fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that are important for fundamental mind capabilities.

Furthermore, the phospholipid certain nature of fatty acids present in KO improves bioavailability and effectivity of absorption, thus supporting the assumption that KO could supply a superior technique of dietary n-3 supply. Lastly, KO incorporates astaxanthin, an antioxidant able to lowering doubtlessly extreme oxidative stress and irritation inside the mind.”

Krill Oil Protects Neurons From Age-Associated Degeneration

In one other instance, this time involving roundworms and human cells to analyze whether or not krill oil promotes wholesome getting old, quite a lot of hallmarks of getting old have been modified. “There’s accumulating proof that interfering with the fundamental getting old mechanisms can improve wholesome longevity,” the workforce famous.11

In a mannequin of Parkinson’s illness, krill oil protected dopaminergic neurons, which synthesize the neurotransmitter dopamine, from aging-related degeneration whereas bettering behaviors and cognition that will depend on dopamine.

“Krill oil rewires distinct gene expression packages that contribute to attenuating a number of getting old hallmarks, together with oxidative stress, proteotoxic stress, senescence, genomic instability, and mitochondrial dysfunction,” based on the researchers.12

They prompt krill oil will increase neurons’ resilience by serving to to chase away irritation and oxidative stress — “thus,” they word, “krill oil supplementation may function a attainable strategy for wholesome mind getting old interventions.”13

Krill Gives Distinctive Advantages for Iron Overload, Choline

Why else is krill oil, with its useful phospholipids, so useful? Analysis suggests it alleviates oxidative stress and iron accumulation, such that it may very well be used as a remedy for toxicity brought on by iron overload which is pervasive in most adults.14

Krill oil can be a very good supply of choline. Whereas choline is present in a wide range of meals, intakes for adults and youngsters are believed to be far beneath optimum ranges, placing public well being in danger and main specialists to recommend that [intake of choline-rich foods should be encouraged.15

Krill oil contains 69 choline-containing phospholipids to synthesize phosphatidylcholine, a critical component of human cell membranes.16 This is key to its benefits as a source of choline, because it’s estimated that 60% of choline in organic salts is otherwise lost when gut bacteria convert it to the metabolite trimethylamine (TMA).

Enzymes then turn TMA into trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a potential biomarker for insulin resistance and heart problems. Krill oil, however, contains fatty acids in the form of phosphatidylcholine (PC) — unlike fish oil, which contains them in triglyceride form.

As noted by the researchers, “Choline in the form of PC is considerably less converted to TMA as demonstrated in a single-dose study with krill oil,17 potentially resulting in more efficient delivery of choline.”18 It’s been shown for instance, that 28 days of krill oil supplementation increased choline levels in healthy young adults.19

In a study comparing phosphatidylcholine, present in krill oil, and choline bitartrate salt, it was found that the krill oil led to higher levels of the important metabolites betaine and dimethylglycine (DMG) along with lower levels of TMAO, which can lead to health issues, compared to the other choline source. Researchers explained:20

“Krill oil is increasingly recognized as a useful source of phosphatidylcholine, in addition to its acknowledged role in providing the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. In a former study, phosphatidylcholine was shown to raise plasma choline levels more efficiently compared to ingestion of free choline as choline chloride.”

With Krill Oil, You Get Astaxanthin

It’s worth mentioning that when you choose omega-3s in the form of krill oil, you also get some astaxanthin, an antioxidant produced by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from UV radiation. Besides the microalgae that produce it, the only other sources are the sea creatures that consume the algae, such as wild salmon, shellfish and krill.

Many researchers believe astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant ever discovered for eye health.21,22 It has protective benefits against a number of eye-related problems, including ARMD and cataracts, as well as:

  • Cystoid macular edema
  • Diabetic retinopathy23
  • Retinal arterial occlusion and venous occlusion
  • Glaucoma24
  • Inflammatory eye diseases (retinitis, iritis, keratitis and scleritis)

Astaxanthin easily crosses into the tissues of your eye and exerts its effects safely and with more potency than any of the other carotenoids, without adverse reactions. Specifically, astaxanthin has been shown to ameliorate or prevent light-induced damage, photoreceptor cell damage,25 ganglion cell damage and damage to the neurons of the inner retinal layers.

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition in 2017 showed 16 weeks of astaxanthin supplementation protected against wrinkles and loss of skin moisture, and improved skin elasticity.26

Most Fish Oil Supplements Should Be Avoided

I recommend avoiding nearly all commercial fish oil supplements, because the DHA and EPA are delivered in the form of ethyl esters. These are essentially a synthetic substrate, created through the microdistillation process of crude fish oil, in which ethanol and/or industrial alcohol is added. This mix is heat distilled in a vacuum chamber, resulting in a concentrated omega-3 ethyl ester condensate.

Not only does this molecular distillation process remove vital resolvins and protectins that are important in reducing inflammation, but it also concentrates the EPA and DHA. You can tell the concentration of these two fats in any given supplement by looking at the label. In fish, the oil consists of 20% to 30% EPA and DHA, whereas purified fish oil concentrate typically contains between 60% and 85% EPA and DHA.27

Most corporations produce ethyl ester fish oil because it’s far less expensive to produce than the triglyceride form. Ethyl esters are also easier to work with during processing, as they have a higher boiling point, which becomes important when the oils are heated and purified of environmental pollutants.

Ethyl esters are the least bioavailable form of omega-3. Manufacturers could convert them back into the triglyceride form by detaching the ethyl alcohol molecule and reattaching a glycerol molecule in a process known as re-esterification,28 but most don’t because it’s so costly.

Your Body Metabolizes Ethyl Ester Forms Differently

It’s important to understand that your body metabolizes the triglyceride and ethyl ester forms of omega-3 differently, and this is when the issues arise. Since the glycerol backbone is missing in the ethyl ester form, the EPA and DHA will scavenge for available triglycerides or steal a glycerol molecule from somewhere.

The fatty acids need to be converted back into triglyceride form or your gut epithelium will not be able to process them. When the ethyl ester form of EPA or DHA ends up stealing glycerol molecules, the molecule that lost its glycerol will then go searching for a replacement, creating a negative domino effect. Further, the fatty acids cannot be transported through your blood unless they’re in triglyceride form.

On the other hand, when you consume omega-3s in triglyceride form, the fatty acids are first separated from the glycerol backbone. All of the individual parts are then absorbed by gut epithelial cells, where they’re reattached to form triglyceride.

When you consume ethyl esters, they must be processed in your liver. There, the ethanol backbone is separated from the free fatty acids, and your body must then reattach the free fatty acids to glycerol to form triglyceride. Your liver must also process the ethyl alcohol, which may release free radicals and cause oxidative stress — the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve when you consume fish oil.

Ideally, consume omega-3 fats in whole-food form by eating fatty, cold-water fish. This includes wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. If you choose to use a supplement, krill oil provides a superior alternative to fish oil.

Although krill oil contains less EPA and DHA per gram of supplement than fish oil does, it’s more bioavailable since the EPA and DHA are bound in a phospholipid form. This means you can take lower doses while reaping superior results.



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