Healthy and well-functioning cells in our bodies require a complex set of inputs or nutrients. While we strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition, exercise, and work-life balance, our bodies may need additional support at varying moments in our lives, and that’s where supplements come in.
When it comes to Omega-3s, there’s a lot of information out there about what they are, how much you need, and how to get enough of these essential nutrients. So, let’s break down one of the common misconceptions: what’s the difference between phospholipids vs. triglycerides when it comes to Omega-3s?
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient and a type of fat that the body cannot make on its own. They are abundant in fatty fish like mackerels, sardines, herrings, tunas, salmon, and others. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are both found in fish while alpha-linolenic (ALA) is found in plants.
It’s important to get the proper amount of Omega-3 nutrients, and many diet experts will recommend eating fish to get these nutrients. However, since human bodies don't produce Omega-3 on their own, and since the Western diet does not on average contain a lot of fish, many people have now turned to Omega-3 supplements to augment their already healthy diets.
What are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a kind of fat found in your blood as the residue of the unused calories your body takes in. When necessary (such as between meals), your hormones release triglycerides at intervals to raise energy.
However, the triglyceride level in your blood mustn't be too high, as that could indicate a high cholesterol level which may put your heart health and blood pressure at risk. A high triglyceride level (also known as hypertriglyceridemia) could result from eating more calories than you burn.
What are Phospholipids?
Like triglycerides, phospholipids are a type of lipid (fat) that resides in human cells (they can also be found in the cells of plants and animals). Krill oil delivers Omega-3 fatty acids in their phospholipid form; They are the major structural component of the cell membrane and they act as emulsifiers aiding in the digestion of fats.
Similarities: Triglycerides vs. Phospholipids
It’s important to understand the difference between triglycerides and phospholipids, especially for people who take dietary supplements.
In terms of similarities, both are lipids, and they each contain glycerol. Secondly, they are two of the three types of lipids we find in nature (sterols are the third but less significant here because they are hardly present in the body).
Triglycerides and phospholipids are both essential to maintaining cell membranes' structure. Even though both lipids are found in Omega-3s and are present in the human body, there are important differences between them.
Differences: Triglycerides vs. Phospholipids
1. Chemical Structure
Triglycerides and phospholipids, despite their similarities, have different chemical structures. Both are lipids, certainly, but phospholipids are technically not true fats.
While triglyceride molecules comprise glycerol and three fatty acids, phospholipids contain glycerol, two fatty acids, and phosphorus.
This is a crucial difference because it is generally accepted that fats must contain three fatty acids to be regarded as such.
2. Utility and Functionality
Though the two lipids have some similarities, they do function differently in the body. Fat cells store triglycerides for later use, while phospholipids in fact serve to break down fats in the body through the digestive process.
Both triglycerides and phospholipids are necessary for building lipid protective bilayers within cells, but phospholipids have a more rigid structure, so they make cell membranes stronger and more resilient than triglycerides alone.
3. Body Composition
Animals and humans can generally generate enough phospholipids on their own without seeking special diets or dietary supplements, except in special circumstances
The reverse is the case for triglycerides, which, like other fats, are part of the body's essential nutrients, even though too much can harm the body. As a result, many people must lower their triglycerides by making dietary and lifestyle adjustments to burn more fat or take in less.
Krill Oil: Phospholipids, Triglycerides & Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids can be delivered in various lipid forms, including phospholipids and triglycerides. These lipids perform specific and vital functions in the body, and it’s true that we need both for healthy body function.
Most fish oil primarily contains triglycerides. Since triglycerides aren’t highly soluble in water, they cause unwanted side effects such as fishy burps. Some studies suggest that, without phospholipids, fish oil may be harder for the body to absorb.
Krill oil delivers Omega-3s in both phospholipid and triglyceride forms, providing an incredibly nutrient-efficient supplement for whole body health.