Krill Oil – an Omega-3 Source
(Our 2016 Update)
The Really Good Fats!
Sometimes, with all the warnings to “avoid fats”, it’s easy to forget that there are some fats which are really good for us! Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids because they are necessary for human health but the human body cannot make them.(1)
DHA and EPA
University of Maryland Medical Center studies indicate omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, may help reduce the risk factors for heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.(2)
Research also shows that omegas can reduce inflammation and also appear to be important for cognitive performance, brain memory and behavioral function.(3)
In fact, the list of benefits many groups (like WebMD, The Mayo Clinic, and Consumer Reports) talk about is quite long. Though not instant cures, they include helping:
- ADHD – by improving mental skills like thinking, remembering, and learning.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – by having a positive effect on gradual memory loss linked to aging.
- Arthritis – by reducing pain, stiffness, loss of function and inflammation.
- Blood sugar. Nearly 70% of people had a healthier response to insulin with DHA.
- Cholesterol and triglycerides. Fish oil supplements are known for helping lower elevated triglyceride levels.
- Depression. Cultures eating foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants and help the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Memory. Tufts University reports those with high levels of DHA have a 47% lower risk of memory and brain concerns.
- Rheumatoid arthritis and joint mobility. People taking DHA saw their discomfort scores drop by 28.7%, stiffness scores drop by 20.3%, and functional impairment scores drop by 22.8%.
- Premenstrual syndrome. Krill Oil supplements reduced PMS symptoms and painful menstruation much more than fish-oil pills, according to the May 2003 issue of Alternative Medicine Review.
- Vision and healthy eyes. Studies show people with high levels of DHA were up to 50% more likely to have healthy macula.
The main omega-3s fatty acids are DHA and EPA – and our body needs both fats. However, there are many sources that think our body needs higher amounts of DHA than it does of EPA. Every one of your cells has built-in receptors that easily absorb DHA – and every one of your cells craves DHA.
There might be some truth there but we think it’s over-emphasized. Far more important is that a person absorbs and uses what they take of omega-3s. So, how do you do that?
What is the Best Omega-3 Supplement Source?
Of course, everyone wants to make sure they are getting the best and most beneficial omega-3 source. What are the possibilities?
- Salmon oil-derived supplements
- Plant-derived omega supplements
- Krill oil supplements
Fish oils, especially salmon, have been the standard for years – though some prefer the plant sources. The most common complaints of both are that they are hard to absorb and do not deliver enough DHA, the most important fatty acid in Omega-3s.
Krill Oil Advantages
Krill oil is gaining in popularity – and with good reasons. Krill are tiny shrimp-like creatures that swim in huge masses in the purer, cold ocean waters. Krill are one of the basic sources of nutrients for almost all marine life in the world’s oceans.
Krill oil offers you a cleaner and more potent source of protective Omega-3 power than fish or veggie sources. All three sources offer the healthful omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. But there are differences.
This is because the Omega-3s in krill oil are stored in a much different biological form than fish oil. The Omega-3s (especially DHA) in krill oil are bound to another type of fat called a phospholipid – which is much simpler to digest than the triglyceride or ethyl ester form found in fish oil.
Krill oil’s omega-3s also are linked to antioxidants, like astaxanthin, and are higher in DHA. After processing it delivers over 65% DHA – the highest concentration of DHA ever achieved in natural medicine!
In fact, the DHA found in krill oil is able to penetrate into nearly every cell in your body— and even into your cells’ power plants (the mitochondria) in a far superior way than fish oil.
List of Krill Oil Advantages
- Better Absorbed and is more Effective. Krill oil EPA and DHA are bonded to phospholipids while fish oil is bonded to triglycerides.(4) Because the fat cells in our bodies are in phospholipid form, the omegas in krill oil to be better absorbed and are more effective than those in fish oil.(6)
- Aftertaste. Typically, krill oil comes in smaller sized capsules making them easier to swallow than most fish oils pills. Also, because krill oil is more rapidly absorbed there is nearly no fishy burps or aftertaste which is usually experienced with fish oil.(5)
- Astaxanthin – This powerful antioxidant is attached to the EPA phospholipid found in krill and is not found in fish oil.(7) Astaxanthin has been linked to healthier skin, endurance, heart health and joint pain.(8)
- Potency – Krill oil also contains vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and canthaxanthin another potent antioxidant like astaxanthin. When compared, in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), krill oil is 48 times more potent than fish oil.(6,7)
- Purity – The oil extracted from krill is cleaner and purer in toxins and heavy metals. Krill are at the bottom of the food chain and they live in the cleanest part of the world’s oceans away from most pollutants.(9)
- Sustainability – Half of the seafood we commonly consume is produced in fish farms – and the related pollutants. Krill, on the other hand, is the largest biomass in the world and less than 0.5% of the krill that live in the ocean are harvested each year for human consumption. (10,11)
Some of our favorite sources of Krill Oil you can buy from Amazon…
If you have allergies from marine animals such as salmon and cod or shellfish like shrimp and krill then you need to avoid omega-3 supplements that are derived from the world’s oceans. Or, if you are allergic or have any reactions to nuts, seeds, or plants then you want to stick to seafood-derived omega-3 supplement.
If you take a supplement, consult a doctor because krill oil and fish oil may interact with some drugs, including blood thinners. Fish-oil supplements are probably safe for most people in doses of 2-3 grams or less a day. There are no formal standards for krill oil, but the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) is developing them.
Consumer Reports on Health: June 2012
- Harvard T.H. N.p., n.d. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.” Chan School of Public Health.
- Gerster, Helga. “Can adults adequately convert a-linolenic acid (18: 3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20: 5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22: 6n-3)?.” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 68.3 (1998): 159-173.
- Cicero, Arrigo FG, and Alessandro Colletti. “Krill oil: evidence of a new source of polyunsaturated fatty acids with high bioavailability.” (2015).
- Winther, Bjorn, et al. “Elucidation of phosphatidylcholine composition in krill oil extracted from Euphausia superba.” Lipids 46.1 (2011): 25-36.
- The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. “Why krill oil?.” A critical look at nutritional science and anything else that strikes my fancy. Ed. Michael Eades. N.p., 24 July 2006
- Ulven, S. M., Kirkhus, B., Lamglait, A., Basu, S., Elind, E., Haider, T., … Pedersen, J. I. (2011). Metabolic Effects of Krill Oil are Essentially Similar to Those of Fish Oil but at Lower Dose of EPA and DHA, in Healthy Volunteers. Lipids, 46(1), 37-46. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-010-3490-4
- Kidd, Parris M. “Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.” Alternative medicine review 12.3 (2007): 207.
- Bowman, Joe. “7 Health Claims About Astaxanthin.” Health Line. Medically Reviewed on October 7, 2014, by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE, n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.
- Bengtson Nash, Susan M., Martin Schlabach, and Peter D. Nichols. “A nutritional-toxicological assessment of Antarctic krill oil versus fish oil dietary supplements.” Nutrients 6.9 (2014): 3382-3402.
- NOAA Fisheries. N.p., n.d. “Basic Questions about Aquaculture.” http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/aquaculture/faqs/faq_aq_101.html
- WWF. N.p., n.d. “Antarctic Krill.” Web. 27 July 2016. http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/oceans_and_marine/priority_ocean_places/antarctica_and_southern_ocean