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Why You Should Consider Stopping Fish Oil Now

May 06, 2011 | 120,162 views
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Krill OilIn a study on rats that directly compared krill oil and fish oil supplementation, krill oil reduced liver triglyceride levels significantly more.

Scientists looked at three groups of rats -- one group that consumed a control diet, one group that had its diet supplemented with 2.5 percent krill oil, and a final group that was given 2.5 percent fish oil in its diet. Both krill oil and fish oil significantly inhibited the activity of enzymes that metabolize fat in the liver, but the krill oil had a more pronounced effect.

Emax Health reports:

"According to the study's authors, 'these data suggest a higher potency of krill oil in decreasing hepatic lipogenesis [production of fat by the liver] when compared to fish oil at relatively short periods of dietary treatment.' Experts do not know why krill oil seems to have this effect, although some suggest the body can better absorb and utilize krill, or that krill may have a different ratio of the two main omega-3 fatty acids."

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Are you currently supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat such as krill oil? If not, this is one supplement you may want to seriously consider.

As a general rule, I'm not a fan of taking many supplements. I firmly believe optimal health comes from whole foods. You can't fool your body by taking handfuls of supplements while still eating a junk food diet... Krill oil, however, is one of my exceptions because most people are seriously deficient in animal based omega-3 fats, and, unfortunately, the ideal food source has been destroyed by industrial pollution. Complicating matters further, most people consume far too many damaged omega-6 fats from processed foods.

This damaged fat tends to impair many biological processes but also distorts the very sensitive omega-3 to 6 ratio.

Remedying these skewed ratios requires supplementing with animal-based omega-3 and reducing processed omega-6 fat consumption.

As far as supplements are concerned, two of the simplest and best ways to improve your overall health include:

  1. Increasing your intake of natural antioxidants
  2. Increasing your intake of omega-3 oils

As you will see below, krill oil accomplishes both of those missions, which is why krill oil is recommended to virtually every new patient who comes to my Natural Health Center.

Krill Oil Proven More Potent than Fish Oil

Not one, but two recent studies illustrate the superior benefits of krill oil over fish oil. The first study, published in January, found that the metabolic effects of the two oils are "essentially similar," but that krill oil is as effective as fish oil despite the fact that it contains less EPA and DHA. This finding corresponds with unpublished data suggesting that krill oil is absorbed up to 10-15 times as well as fish oil, which would explain this discrepancy.

But what makes it that much more absorbable?

In a nutshell, it has to do with its molecular composition.

Fish oil is in a triglyceride molecule that has to be broken down in your gut to its base fatty acids of DHA and EPA. About 80-85 percent is never absorbed and is eliminated in your intestine (this is why fish oil can cause you to experience burp back and why about half of all people cannot tolerate fish oil). Then once the fatty acids are absorbed into your blood stream, your liver has to attach it to phoshphatidyl choline for it to be used by your body.

The amazing beauty of krill is that all of it is in the correct form in the original pill, so your body uses virtually 100 percent of it. Additionally krill oil naturally contains the powerful antioxidant Astaxanthin, which prevents the perishable DHA and EPA from going rancid, which is another problem with fish oil. According to industry expert Dr. Rudi Moerck, the vast majority of fish oil being sold is actually rancid before you even open the bottle, because it doesn't have this protective antioxidant.

Krill Oil Also More Effective than Fish Oil...

The second study, published in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition in February, compared the efficiency of krill oil and fish oil in reducing triglyceride levels. Over a six-week period, rats divided into three groups had their diets supplemented with either:

  1. 2.5 percent krill oil
  2. 2.5 percent fish oil
  3. No supplement

In less than three weeks, both oils had markedly reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat, but the krill oil had a far more pronounced effect, reducing liver triglycerides significantly more. The higher potency of krill oil, which I just discussed, allows it to decrease triglyceride levels in a shorter period of time, compared to fish oil.

Overall, after six weeks of supplementation, cholesterol levels in the krill oil group declined by 33 percent, compared to 21 percent in the fish oil group. Liver triglycerides were reduced by TWICE as much; 20 and 10 percent respectively. This is particularly important as fasting triglyceride levels are a powerful indication of your body's ability to have healthy lipid profiles.

To put this into further context, after being on a statin drug combined with daily exercise for several months, participants in one 1997 study saw an average reduction in their cholesterol levels of 20 percent... This is why krill oil is actually being used as a drug in some European countries.

So, compared to a statin drug, both fish- and krill oil are VASTLY more efficient! But krill is the most effective in the shortest amount of time. Don't you wish more doctors knew about this?!

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fat

Maintaining a high dietary omega-3 intake throughout your life is essential for optimal health. Low concentrations of EPA and DHA have been shown to result in an increased risk of death from all causes and accelerates cognitive decline. Those suffering from depression have also been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood than non-depressed individuals.

It's even been found to save the lives of children suffering from short bowel syndrome (SBS), and tests on children with learning disabilities has shown omega-3 to be an effective treatment.

So the benefits of omega-3 fats go far beyond normalizing your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They truly run the gamut, from mental- and behavioral health at any age, to preventing premature death from any number of diseases, including:

Coronary heart disease and stroke Essential fatty acid deficiency in infancy (retinal and brain development) Autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus and nephropathy)
Crohn's disease Cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate Mild hypertension
Rheumatoid arthritis Parkinson's disease Preventing premature delivery

When Comparing Animal-Based Omega-3 Sources, Krill Oil is a Clear Winner

When it comes to choosing between animal-based omega-3 options, the primary options are fresh fish, fish oil, cod liver oil, and krill oil. Here's a quick summary of the benefits and/or drawbacks of each:

  • Fish: In a perfect world, you would be able to get all the animal based omega-3 fats you need by eating fish. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our fish supply is now so heavily contaminated with industrial pollutants and toxins like mercury, PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals and radioactive poisons that I just can't recommend it any longer.
  • Fish oil: I used to recommend that you take fish oil to enhance your intake of omega-3 fats; and high-quality fish oils are certainly great products with many important health benefits. However, as mentioned earlier, fish oil is weak in antioxidant content

    This is a major drawback for fish oil, because as you increase your intake of omega-3 fats by consuming fish oil, you actually increase your need for even more antioxidant protection.

    This happens because fish oil is quite perishable, and oxidation leads to the formation of unhealthy free radicals. Therefore, antioxidants are required to ensure that the fish oil doesn't oxidize and become rancid inside your body. So, you need to consume additional antioxidants both for your health in general, AND for your increased need for antioxidants when using fish oil.

    About the only major advantage of fish oil is that the bulk of the published studies are done with fish and not krill. That will change with time but it will take many decades. Since fish and krill have the identical EPA and DHA and you know that krill is superior in absorption, antioxidant and environmental sustainability, it just doesn't make sense that you and your family would have to wait decades for the studies to catch up with what is plainly obvious. 

    One of the main reasons I started this newsletter was to decrease the time between something is understood by scientists and then applied clinically as I have seen far too many benefits not realized for decades and many people suffer needlessly as a result.

  • Cod liver oil: I no longer recommend cod liver oil because it can have problematic ratios of vitamins A and D
  • Krill oil: The antioxidant potency of krill oil is actually 48 times higher than fish oil, and krill oil also contains astaxanthin -- a unique marine-source flavonoid -- that creates a special bond with the EPA and DHA, which allows direct metabolism of the antioxidants, making them more bioavailable.

    In fact, the antioxidant potency of krill oil stacks up well against a number of other well-known antioxidants. Independent ORAC evaluations have  established that genuine  krill oil contains:

    • Over 300 times the antioxidant power of vitamin A and vitamin E
    • Over 47 times the antioxidant power of lutein
    • Over 34 times the antioxidant power of coenzyme Q-10

Krill is the Most Sustainable Source of Omega-3

Another benefit of krill is that it's a completely sustainable and environmentally friendly source of omega-3. Not only is krill the largest biomass in the world, but krill harvesting is one of the best regulated on the planet, using strict international precautionary catch limit regulations that are reviewed regularly to assure sustainability.

Krill can be found in all oceans, but Antarctic krill is by far the most abundant. The Antarctic krill biomass is under the management of an international organism of 25 countries called the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). This is the ONLY official and reliable international organism involved in the management of sustainable krill fishery and the monitoring of krill stock, and no shortage of krill has ever been forecasted by CCAMLR.

The CCAMLR implemented the 'precautionary approach' in order to minimize risks associated with harvesting practices in conditions of uncertainty. It is an 'ecosystem approach,' meaning it takes into account ecological links between different species and natural variability, such as the natural, cyclical rise and fall in reproduction of a species, for example.

Antarctic krill has now been harvested for 47 years, starting in 1961, with an historical peak harvest of just under 529,000 tons for the 1981/82 season. However, the mean annual catch rate from 2002 to 2007 was less than 120,000 tons a year. Meanwhile, many studies show the biomass of Antarctic krill range from 170 million to 740 million tons, averaging around 420 million tons; a standing stock with an annual reproduction rate of several hundred million tons.

This ensures a very large standing stock of renewable krill for both natural predators and human use.

To put this all into perspective, the precautionary catch limit for 2008 set by the CCAMLR, based on recent surveys of krill stock, was 6.6 million tons. (This catch limit takes into account the ecosystem as a whole to protect the environment.) However, even at that, less than 2 percent of the precautionary catch limit has actually been harvested on any given year!

It's also worth noting that of the total krill harvest each year, almost 88 percent of the catches are used for sport fishing bait and krill meal for fish farms. The rest, 12 percent, is sold for human consumption, with less than 1 percent being processed into krill oil supplements. So, the use of krill oil supplements is in no way endangering whales and other wildlife.

Omega-3 Fats—One of the Easiest Ways to Improve Your Health

Regardless of your age and sex, adding an animal-based omega-3 supplement to your daily diet is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to protect your health.

Pregnant women need to pay particular heed to this advice, as most women have major deficiencies of this fat, and that can spell trouble for your child. It's important to realize that your body cannot form omega-3 fats, so a fetus must obtain all of its omega-3 fats from its mother's diet. Hence a mother's dietary intake and plasma concentrations of DHA directly influence the DHA status of the developing fetus, which can impact your child's brain development and eye health.

Likewise, breast feeding infants are dependent on the omega-3 fat from breast milk, so it's essential that women have adequate supplies of omega-3 to support both their own and their child's health during this time.

Getting back to the issue of cholesterol and triglycerides for a moment, many doctors in Europe are actually switching from conventional drugs to krill oil to support healthy, normal lipid levels and cardiovascular health.

The great news is that krill oil works at a lower dose than fish oil, so you likely only need one to two 500 mg capsules per day, making it a far more effective and affordable option. And when compared to statin drugs… well… the benefits far exceed any savings in terms of cost. It might literally save your life.


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