Daily supplements of omega-3-rich krill oil is a safe and effective way of increasing levels of EPA and DHA, according to a new study.
Four weeks of krill oil supplementation raised levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in overweight and obese men and women with “no indication of adverse effects on safety parameters.”Demand for krill oil, rich in omega-3, phospholipids and antioxidants, is increasing. Krill are small shrimp-like marine crustaceans eaten by fish, birds and whales. Krill are considered to have the largest biomass of any multi-cellular animal in the world.
The benefits of omega-3 fats are now so widely known that the question is no longer whether to include them in your diet, but from what source?
In a perfect world, you would be able to get all the omega-3s 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, heavy metals and radioactive poisons that I just can’t recommend it any longer.
So you are left with a choice of fish oil or krill oil supplements as options to get your omega-3 fats.
Although I still recommend fish oil in some cases, I believe krill oil is an EVEN BETTER option for most people, for several reasons. Personally, I take krill oil every day.
Why Krill Oil is an Excellent Source of Omega-3
As the study above found, krill oil was found to be both safe and effective in terms of increasing your omega-3 levels. But there is much more to it than that.
Krill oil, like fish oil, contains omega-3 fats such as eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). However, in fish oil, these omega-3 fats are found in the triglyceride form. In krill oil, they are found in a double-chain phospholipid structure. The fats in human cell walls are also in the phospholipid form.
The phospholipid structure of the EPA and DHA in krill oil makes them much more absorbable. Krill oil also contains vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and astaxanthin, which is a potent anti-oxidant.
In fact, the antioxidant potency of krill oil is 48 times more potent than fish oil, and independent ORAC evaluations have also established that 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
Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say?
To top it all off, 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.
So fish oil is weak in antioxidant content, whereas krill oil contains potent antioxidants.
This is the 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.
Are Krill Being Overharvested?
There has been some concern voiced that krill oil consumption by health-conscious consumers may be endangering wildlife due to over-harvesting. I addressed this myth in detail in this past article, but let me say for the record that if this were true -- I would stop selling krill in a nanosecond.
Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that 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.
The precautionary catch limit for 2008 set by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (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!
This ensures a very large standing stock of renewable krill for both natural predators and human use.
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.
Please Make Sure You are Getting Your Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fat deficiency is the sixth biggest killer of Americans, according to Harvard University researchers, and may be a significant underlying factor of up to 96,000 premature deaths each year.
Studies have shown that low concentrations of EPA and DHA result in an increased risk of death from all causes and accelerated cognitive decline. Those suffering from depression have also been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood than non-depressed individuals.
So the benefits of omega-3 fats 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)
Cancers of the breast, colon, and prostate
In my view, krill oil is clearly your best option when it comes to obtaining important high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, and continues to be one of the very few supplements I believe could benefit nearly every individual.