RELEVATE Nutrients

Omega-3-Phospholipid Complex

Key Food Groups: Fish, Nuts/Seeds

Omega-3-Phospholipids: Role in Brain Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms in the brain. These healthy fats play important roles in maintaining the structure of cell walls (membranes) and regulating cell communication, especially in the brain and retina of the eye. There are multiple types of omega-3 fatty acids, two of which include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).1

Phospholipids are structural fat molecules made-up of a phosphate and two fatty acids. They are a fundamental part of the integrity of neuronal cell membranes and myelin sheaths (analogous to electrical insulation that surround axons and help conduct electrical signals between cells).2 A specific type of phospholipid is phosphatidylcholine (PC), which, as its name suggests, includes choline in the molecule. PC is an important type of phospholipid that can be found in the brain and can be vital in brain development and nerve signaling.3 Without these necessary healthy fats supplied from our diet, the brain is susceptible to chronic neuroinflammation and decrease in cognition seen in neurodegenerative diseases.4

Intake Deficiency and Relevance

The brain is the fattiest organ in the body (approximately 60% fat), and so supplying it with healthy fats like DHA and EPA is crucial to maintaining your brain health. Studies suggest that people eating a Western diet who do not consume fish twice a week (recommended by the American Heart Association) could benefit from higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce their risk of chronic inflammatory diseases, like neurodegenerative disease.1

Another intake deficiency is that of choline, which affects about 90% of Americans.5 Hence, intaking the phosphatidylcholine form of DHA and EPA would not only help to increase brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, but also addresses the choline deficiency affecting many people.

RELEVATE’s Form of Omega-3

RELEVATE contains a natural blend of phosphatidylcholine-based DHA and EPA, specialized phospholipids derived from the roe of herring. Unlike standard triglyceride forms of DHA and EPA, the phosphatidylcholine-DHA and -EPA (PC-DHA and PC-EPA) are particularly bioavailable and accumulate in the brain preferentially.6,7 It is also a form that is sustained the longest and is found most abundantly in the blood.8,9 Given the particular relevance of DHA to the brain, our product provides a ratio of DHA to EPA of 3:1 (DHA:EPA), which is substantially greater than typical omega-3 products, and it targets a dose of DHA associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.3

Concluding Thoughts to Consider

Research is finding that DHA and EPA in phospholipid form are likely more successful in altering neurocognitive outcomes than other more common forms, such as triglyceride (standard fish oil).3,10,11 Additionally, epidemiological and interventional studies suggest positive trends between fish intake (rich in DHA and EPA) and cognitive health.12–14 This makes the case that not only are omega-3’s like DHA and EPA are important for brain health, but also their form (phospholipid, particularly the phosphatidylcholine type) is an important consideration.


Cited Research

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Off. Diet. Suppl. NIH (2019).
  2. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Choline — Health Professional Fact Sheet. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements (2020). Available at: (Accessed: 13th December 2019)
  3. Schaefer, E. J. et al. Plasma phosphatidylcholine docosahexaenoic acid content and risk of dementia and alzheimer disease: The framingham heart study. Arch. Neurol. 63, 1545–1550 (2006).
  4. Bazan, N. G. Omega-3 fatty acids and neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease: the unraveling of neurorestorative cell signaling. Future Neurol. 11, 99–103 (2016).
  5. Jensen, H. H., Batres-Marquez, S. P., Carriquiry, A. & Schalinske, K. L. Choline in the diets of the US population: NHANES, 2003–2004. FASEB J. 21, LB46–LB46 (2007).
  6. Sugasini, D., Yalagala, P. C. R., Goggin, A., Tai, L. M. & Subbaiah, P. V. Enrichment of brain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is highly dependent upon the molecular carrier of dietary DHA: lysophosphatidylcholine is more efficient than either phosphatidylcholine or triacylglycerol. J. Nutr. Biochem. 74, 108231 (2019).
  7. Murota, K., Takagi, M., Watanabe, Y., Tokumura, A. & Ohkubo, T. Roe-derived phospholipid administration enhances lymphatic docosahexaenoic acid-containing phospholipid absorption in unanesthetized rats. Prostaglandins, Leukot. Essent. Fat. Acids 139, 40–48 (2018).
  8. Hirsch, M. J., Growdon, J. H. & Wurtman, R. J. Relations between dietary choline or lecithin intake, serum choline levels, and various metabolic indices. Metabolism 27, 953–960 (1978).
  9. Wurtman, R. J., Growdon, J. H. & Hirsch, M. J. Lecithin Consumption Raises Serum-Free-Choline Levels. Lancet 310, 68–69 (1977).
  10. Morris, M. C. et al. Dietary fats and the risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Arch. Neurol. 60, 194–200 (2003).
  11. Patrick, R. P. Role of phosphatidylcholine-DHA in preventing APOE4-associated Alzheimer’s disease. FASEB J. 33, 1554–1564 (2019).
  12. Morris, M. C. et al. Consumption of fish and n-3 fatty acids and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. Arch. Neurol. 60, 940–946 (2003).
  13. Morris, M. C., Evans, D. A., Tangney, C. C., Bienias, J. L. & Wilson, R. S. Fish Consumption and Cognitive Decline With Age in a Large Community Study. Arch. Neurol. 62, 1849–1853 (2005).
  14. Mazereeuw, G., Lanctôt, K. L., Chau, S. A., Swardfager, W. & Herrmann, N. Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive performance: A meta-analysis. Neurobiol. Aging 33, 1482.e17-1482.e29 (2012).