By Dr. Mercola
Most Americans are seriously deficient in animal-based omega-3 fats. If you're among them, this means you are missing out on many health advantages that these fats offer.
Maintaining a high dietary omega-3 intake throughout your life is essential for optimal health, and the research continues to pour in that krill oil, in particular, is the preferable source.
Lower Your Triglycerides: Krill Oil for Your Heart
Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. Elevated levels are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, and high triglycerides are also one of the signs of metabolic syndrome.
Eating a healthful diet is one of the best ways to keep your triglyceride levels in the optimal range, and this includes omega-3 fats. Recent research published in Nutrition Research1 revealed that krill oil supplementation lowers triglyceride levels in adults with borderline high or high triglycerides – by more than 10 percent.
The researchers concluded: "krill oil is effective in reducing a cardiovascular risk factor." This isn't the first time krill oil has been shown to reduce triglycerides, and past research also showed that it is more effective than fish oil at doing so.
One study revealed that while the metabolic effects of the two oils are "essentially similar," krill oil is as effective as fish oil despite the fact that it contains less EPA and DHA (the primary active fatty acids in animal-based omega-3 fats).2
In that case, the EPA and DHA dose in the krill oil was nearly 63 percent less than that in the fish oil – but the beneficial effects were virtually the same. This finding corresponds with unpublished data suggesting that krill oil is absorbed up to 10-15 times as well as fish oil, which would explain this discrepancy.
Krill Oil Works Better Than Fish Oil, and on Par with Statins, to Improve Lipid Profiles
Separate research published in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition3 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 one of the following:
- 2.5 percent krill oil
- 2.5 percent fish oil
- 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 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.
Further, liver triglycerides were reduced by TWICE as much in the krill oil group compared to the fish oil group, by 20 percent 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 study4 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.
Krill Oil Vs. Fish Oil: What's the Difference?
Total Video Length: 26:57
Download Interview Transcript
From my perspective, based on medical experience and overwhelming scientific evidence, making sure you're getting enough omega-3 in your diet, either from wild Alaskan salmon or a high-quality omega-3 supplement like krill oil, is absolutely crucial for your optimal health.
While a helpful form of omega-3 can be found in flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3 -- containing both DHA and EPA, which are essential to fighting and preventing both physical and mental disease -- can only be found in fish and krill.5
Unfortunately, nearly all fish, from most all sources, are now severely contaminated with toxic mercury, which is why wild-caught Alaskan salmon is one of the only fish I'll eat on a regular basis.
Most people will not get enough animal-based omega-3 fats from diet alone, which is why I highly recommend krill oil as an important supplement – even above fish oil.
The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it, and it won't cause belching or burping like many other fish oil products. Additionally, it naturally contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant—almost 50 times more than is present in fish oil. This prevents the highly perishable omega-3 fats from oxidizing before you are able to integrate them into your cellular tissue.
Krill Oil Is Less Damaged or Oxidized Than Fish Oil
In laboratory tests, krill oil remained undamaged after being exposed to a steady flow of oxygen for 190 hours. Compare that to fish oil, which went rancid after just one hour. That makes krill oil nearly 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage compared to fish oil!
When purchasing krill oil, you'll want to read the label and check the amount of astaxanthin it contains. The more the better, but anything above 0.2 mg per gram of krill oil will protect it from rancidity. To learn more about the benefits of krill versus fish oil, please see my interview with Dr. Rudi Moerck, a drug industry insider and an expert on omega-3 fats, above. The infographic below also presents the facts of which omega-3 supplement is best.
I was one of the first to promote krill as an exceptional source of animal-based omega-3 dietary fats. Many have criticized me for recommending this over fish oil, for the lack of studies to back it up, but the bulk of the new emerging studies are confirming that krill is the better option.
It merely took time for the science to document what was obvious clinically, that krill had the identical fats as fish oil but was a far higher quality source due to astaxanthin protecting the perishable fats, and the phospholipids that massively increase the absorption of the fats.
Krill Oil Is HIGHLY Sustainable
Some may be wondering if by consuming krill you are you endangering the welfare of birds and marine animals by "stealing" their primary food source. If I thought this was true, my conscience would not allow me to promote krill. But based on the evidence, the chance of over harvesting krill is extremely slim, even if harvesting was increased rather dramatically. There's a very big margin built into the current regulations.
Krill is the largest biomass in the world. If you were to weigh the population of any animal on earth -- any fish, whale, insect, bird, rat, or even humans -- krill would still weigh the most. There are simply more krill on the planet than any other creature, so they are in no danger of over harvesting anytime soon. Secondly, 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 Antarctic krill biomass is under the management of an international body 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.
To assure sustainability and minimize risks associated with harvesting practices in conditions of uncertainty, the CCAMLR implemented a strict precautionary approach. It's 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.
Currently there are about 4,000 times more krill in the wild than is being harvested, so it should be comforting to know that harvesting is taking a very small fraction of the total amount of krill available. So harvesting does not pose a threat to whales and other animals that depend on krill for sustenance. For more details on the eco-friendly nature of krill, please read "Can Krill Help End World Hunger?"
Krill Oil May Benefit 20+ Conditions
The really great thing about taking a supplement like krill oil is that it benefits your health on multiple levels. It won't "only" help your heart by lowering your triglycerides… It's also been proven to benefit your brain, slowing memory loss and improving conditions like ADHD, inflammatory conditions like arthritis and pain, depression, and much more.
A major reason krill oil has such impressive benefits is that it powerfully reduces inflammation in your body, which is at the root of many chronic diseases. GreenMedInfo6 now lists 20 different conditions krill oil may help prevent or reverse, several of which are listed in the table below. Of course, if you extend the search to include everything related to omega-3 fats, the list of benefits expands even more, since the gifts of krill oil include everything known to be good about omega-3s. The implications are truly profound, and I'm sure you'll be seeing much more krill research in the future.
Cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia Inflammation, and C-Reactive Protein Oxidative stress Arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) Metabolic syndrome, including obesity and fatty liver Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhea Brain disease: cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, brain aging, learning disorders, and ADHD Cancer Kidney disease
The Key to Getting the Most Benefit from Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats improve your cell's response to insulin, neurotransmitters, and other messengers. They also help the repair process when your cells are damaged. On the other hand, omega-6 fats, which are found in vegetable oils, are pro-inflammatory and contribute to insulin and membrane resistance, altering your mood, and impairing learning and cell repair. To avoid high levels of omega-6, it is important to avoid all vegetable seed oils.
In order to take your health to the next level, please understand that it's not only necessary to consciously consume omega-3 fats; it is just as important to lower your omega-6 fat intake. If you don't lower your omega-6 fats to acceptable levels, your omega-6:3 ratio will not be low enough, and you may not receive many of the wonderful benefits of omega-3 fats such as reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and many other degenerative illnesses.
My nutrition plan is a step-by-step guide to help you increase your intake of healthful omega-3 (and other fats) while lowering your intake of excess omega-6 fats. This diet will help you optimize your omega-6:3 ratio so you're able to get the most benefit out of the omega-3 fats in your krill oil supplement.