Krill oil: Do the claims stack up?
The krill oil bandwagon is gaining traction in the media these days. Primetime advertising & health talk shows are marketing claims that krill oil is better, faster & more powerful than fish oil & that it is 3 times better than fish oil for supporting cardiovascular health.
Despite its popularity, there are just a handful of published studies exploring the use of krill oil, while fish oil remains among the most researched supplements ever, with over 10,000 studies published.
Let’s look at the facts...
In 2011, a human study was conducted to determine the difference between fish oil & krill oil. Subjects were given daily doses of:
- 6 soft gels of krill oil
- 3 soft gels of fish oil
It was discovered that krill oil provides NO ADDITIONAL BENEFIT with:
- NO difference in reducing cholesterol
- NO difference in reducing triglycerides
- NO difference between HDL cholesterol
- NO difference in markers of oxidative stress
- NO difference in markers of inflammation
Superior bioavailability; has been suggested for phospholipids (PL) bound omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil, however, a 2013 study has disproven this, showing that a high-quality fish oil was actually 382% more bioavailable than krill oil - measured by blood levels of omega-3 in participants.
Krill oil contains astaxanthin, which is promoted as an anti-inflammatory to benefit cardiovascular healh. However there are NO human studies to demonstrate this.
Krill are a crucial link in the marine food chain, and concerns about the ecological impact of krill fishing have resulted in a ban on krill fishing on the U.S. West Coast, and strict limits in Norway and Antarctica. In contrast, fish oil supplements are generally produced from sardines and anchovies— species that are considered ideal for sustainability, because of their abundant supply and short reproductive cycles.
Over 100 fisheries have been independently certified as meeting the Marine Stewardship Council’s environmental standard for sustainable fishing; however, only 1 of those is a krill fishery.
You ready for this? Krill oil supplements that pride themselves on being great sources of omega-3 don’t even reach 100 mg per serving of the most important omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.
Health and nutrition experts around the world agree that we need a minimum of 500 mg EPA+DHA daily for routine health maintenance, and far more for common health conditions. Krill Oil marketers say ‘just 1 small soft gel per day’ is all you need to gain the benefits of omega-3 from taking krill oil. Is this true? The answer is no. The minimum internationally recommended guideline for omega-3 intake is 500mg of EPA & DHA.
To reach 500mg of EPA & DHA, one would need to consume approximately 6 krill oil capsules every day. This makes it extemely costly when compared to buying fish or fish oil.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Fresh, high-quality fish oil supplements produced in the triglyceride molecular form deliver the greatest amount of omega-3 fats, because your body recognises them as nutrients and absorbs them easily. Cheap oxidised fish oil, or trendy omega-3 alternatives simply cannot deliver the same results.
What’s worse, with krill oil, you often pay more, and get less. What kind of deal is that?!
References: NAD Case #4970 Lipids. 2011 Jan;46(1):37-46. doi: 10.1007/s11745-010-3490-4. Epub 2010 Nov 2. Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers. Fassett RG, Coombes JS. School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Astaxanthin in cardiovascular health and disease. Lipids Health Dis. 2011 Aug 22;10:145. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-10-145 Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations--a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs. krill oil. Schuchardt JP, Schneider I, Meyer H, Neubronner J, von Schacky C, Hahn A. http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/certified-fisheries-on-the-map
Getting your omega-3 from Fish oil is safe but some fish oil is purer than others – not to mention fresher, better tasting and sourced with greater respect for the environment. Learn how to identify good quality sources.
While fish oil is a ‘natural’ product this doesn’t necessarily mean you should go crazy and take massive amounts of it! Keep informed about what is fact and what is fiction.
Fresh or Fermented Cod Liver Oil? The Vikings knew which was superior - do you? With an increasing trend towards fermtnted food, from people seeking a more traditional diet, naturally there is a lot of debate recently about fermented versus fresh cod liver oil.