Exploring the diverse benefits of Phospholipids in Krill oil

Exploring the diverse benefits of Phospholipids in Krill oil

In the vast ocean of nutritional supplements, krill oil stands out as a potent source of health-promoting compounds. Among its myriad components, phospholipids emerge as key players, offering a range of benefits that contribute to overall well-being.

Krill oil is an oil extracted from tiny crustaceans called krill, which are small, shrimp-like marine creatures that inhabit the cold waters of the ocean, primarily in the Antarctic. Krill serves as a vital part of the marine ecosystem, forming a significant portion of the diet for various marine animals, including whales, seals, and penguins. Krill oil is renowned for its rich nutritional content, particularly its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential nutrients because the human body cannot produce them on its own and must obtain them from dietary sources. In addition to omega-3s, krill oil also contains other beneficial compounds such as phospholipids, which are molecules that help improve the absorption and utilization of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Phospholipids are a key component of cell membranes and play a crucial role in various physiological processes. Krill oil is available as a dietary supplement and is often used to support heart health, brain function, joint health, and overall well-being. Its unique composition, including the presence of phospholipids, sets it apart from traditional fish oil supplements and makes it an attractive option for individuals seeking to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into their daily regimen. [1]

Some benefits of krill oil [2,3]:


➢ Heart Health: Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA found in krill oil, are known to support cardiovascular health by helping to lower triglyceride levels, reduce inflammation, and improve overall heart function. Regular consumption of krill oil may contribute to a healthy heart and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

➢ Brain function: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and cognitive function. DHA, in particular, is highly concentrated in the brain and is crucial for maintaining neuronal structure and function. Krill oil's rich omega-3 content, coupled with its phospholipid structure, may support memory, concentration, and overall cognitive performance.

➢ Joint health: Krill oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate joint pain and stiffness associated with conditions like arthritis. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, along with phospholipids, may help reduce inflammation in the joints and improve joint mobility, making krill oil a valuable supplement for individuals with joint issues.

➢ Skin Health: Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in maintaining healthy skin by supporting hydration, elasticity, and protection against inflammation. Krill oil's omega-3 content, combined with its antioxidant properties, may help promote youthful-looking skin and alleviate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

➢ Eye Health: DHA, a component of krill oil, is essential for maintaining eye health and supporting optimal vision. Adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other vision-related conditions.


Phospholipids in Krill oil

Another very important component of krill oil is the Phospholipids. It plays a crucial role and is a class of lipids that serve as integral components of cell membranes, ensuring their structural integrity and facilitating various cellular processes. In krill oil, phospholipids predominantly manifest as phosphatidylcholine (PC), although phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylinositol (PI) are also present in smaller quantities. One of the defining features of phospholipids is their amphiphilic nature, meaning they possess both hydrophilic (water-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repelling) regions. This unique characteristic enables phospholipids to form lipid bilayers, the fundamental structure of cell membranes, and to act as emulsifiers, facilitating the dispersion of fat-soluble substances in a water-based environment. Let us see the benefits of phospholipids. [4]


• The presence of phospholipids in krill oil significantly enhances the bioavailability of its nutritional components, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike traditional fish oil, where omega-3s are predominantly bound to triglycerides, in krill oil, they are primarily incorporated into phospholipid molecules. This molecular arrangement is believed to facilitate the absorption of omega-3s in the intestines, allowing for more efficient delivery to target tissues throughout the body. Studies have suggested that krill oil may yield higher blood levels of EPA and DHA compared to fish oil, indicating superior bioavailability attributed to phospholipid incorporation. [5]


• Beyond their role in nutrient delivery, phospholipids in krill oil exhibit potent anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is implicated in various diseases, including cardiovascular disorders, arthritis, and neurodegenerative conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, are well-known for their anti-inflammatory effects. When bound to phospholipids in krill oil, these fatty acids may exert even greater anti-inflammatory activity, potentially mitigating inflammatory processes throughout the body. Moreover, phospholipids themselves possess anti-inflammatory properties independent of omega-3s. Phosphatidylcholine, in particular, has been studied for its ability to modulate immune responses and reduce inflammatory cytokine production, further contributing to the overall anti-inflammatory profile of krill oil. [2,3,5]


• The unique composition of phospholipids in krill oil holds promise for cognitive health and neuroprotection. The brain is rich in phospholipids, particularly phosphatidylcholine, which constitutes a significant portion of neuronal membranes. Adequate intake of phospholipids is essential for maintaining neuronal structure and function, and supporting cognitive processes such as memory, learning, and information processing.


              Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids, when incorporated into neuronal membranes, enhance membrane fluidity and neurotransmitter function, which may exert neuroprotective effects and reduce the risk of cognitive decline associated with aging and neurodegenerative diseases. [3]


• In addition to their cardiovascular and neurological benefits, phospholipids in krill oil exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that can be particularly beneficial for individuals suffering from joint pain and inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, when delivered in phospholipid form, are more efficiently utilized by joint tissues, where they help modulate inflammatory pathways, reduce swelling, and alleviate discomfort. Moreover, phospholipids themselves have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory effects, further contributing to the overall therapeutic potential of krill oil in managing joint-related ailments. [5]


• The integrity of cell membranes is crucial for maintaining healthy skin, and phospholipids play a significant role in preserving skin barrier function and hydration. By incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into phospholipid structures, krill oil can help protect against moisture loss, enhance skin elasticity, and mitigate the effects of aging and environmental damage. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of phospholipids may aid in alleviating skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis, promoting clearer and more radiant skin. [8]


Phospholipids are integral components of krill oil, conferring numerous health benefits beyond those associated with omega-3 fatty acids alone. From cardiovascular protection and cognitive support to joint relief and skin rejuvenation, the multifaceted advantages of phospholipids make krill oil a valuable addition to a balanced diet and wellness regimen. As ongoing research continues to unravel the intricacies of these lipid molecules, the potential for harnessing their therapeutic properties in promoting human health remains promising. [6,7]



  1. Krill oil. Monograph. Altern Med Rev. 2010 Apr;15(1):84-6. PMID: 20359272.
  2. Cicero AF, Rosticci M, Morbini M, Cagnati M, Grandi E, Parini A, Borghi C. Lipid-lowering and anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 ethyl esters and krill oil: a randomized, cross-over, clinical trial. Arch Med Sci. 2016 Jun 1;12(3):507-12. 
  3. Burri, L., & Johnsen, L. (2015). Krill products: an overview of animal studies. Nutrients, 7(5), 3300–3321
  4. Xie D, Gong M, Wei W, Jin J, Wang X, Wang X, Jin Q. Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba) Oil: A Comprehensive Review of Chemical Composition, Extraction Technologies, Health Benefits, and Current Applications. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2019 Mar;18(2):514-534. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12427. Epub 2019 Feb 12. PMID: 33336946.
  5. R. RamprasathI. EyalS. ZchutI. Shafat, and P. J. H. Jones. Supplementation of krill oil with high phospholipid content increases sum of EPA and DHA in erythrocytes compared with low phospholipid krill oil. Lipids Health Dis.2015; 14: 142.
  6. Petter-Arnt Hals , Xiaoli Wang and Yong-Fu Xiao. Effects of a purified krill oil phospholipid rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular disease risk factors in non-human primates with naturally occurring diabetes type-2 and dyslipidemia. Hals et al. Lipids in Health and Disease (2017) 16:11
  7. Sung, Hyunsin (2017) The effect of krill oil supplementation focusing on the incorporation of plasma omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, clinical biomarkers and lipidomic profiles in women. PhD thesis, Victoria University.
  8. Kim J, Lee N, Chun YS, Lee SH, Ku SK. Krill Oil's Protective Benefits against Ultraviolet B-Induced Skin Photoaging in Hairless Mice and In Vitro Experiments. Mar Drugs. 2023 Aug 30;21(9):479. doi: 10.3390/md21090479. PMID: 37755092; PMCID: PMC10533088.
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