Is Krill Oil the new Fish Oil?

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Krill oil capsules are manufactured from krill, tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that inhabit the cold ocean areas of the world such as the North Pacific Ocean and Antarctic. Despite their small size, roughly six millimetres in length, krill makes up the largest animal biomass in the world, more than the combined weight of all humans on earth. Krill oil is now gaining in popularity by way of supplements due to its numerous advantages and benefits.

Is krill oil better than fish oil?

Krill oil capsules, like fish oil, contains omega 3 essential fatty acids such as eicosapentoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). We are constantly being reminded that we do not consume sufficient oily fish making us omega 3 deficient. I am going to digress briefly to talk about omega 6, another fatty acid which we obtain from vegetable oils, eggs, poultry, cereals, nuts and wholegrain breads. Ideally, the body requires both omega 3 and omega 6 in a ratio of 1:1, however our diet is abundant in omega 6 and deficient in omega 3. It is estimated that we currently ingest between 20 and 50 times more omega 6 than omega 3 essential fats. This does create a problem because an abundance of omega 6 can suppress the immune system, promote excessive cellular growth and cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to concerns such as arthritis.

I have consistently said that the two most important categories to maintain health are to increase your antioxidant intake and to ensure you take omega 3 supplements. Until a couple of years ago, I used to recommend high strength fish oils as a source of omega 3. High quality fish oils are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids, however they have no antioxidant activity and thus vitamin E is added to supplements to help protect the oils from turning rancid. Taking fish oils actually requires you to take high levels of antioxidants since fish oils have weak/little antioxidant protection. Fish oils are perishable and their oxidation in the body may lead to free radicals, which may damage our cells. Therefore when you take fish oils, you need to increase your antioxidant intake whereas krill oil capsules contain one of the most potent antioxidant called astaxanthin, which occurs naturally within krill oil giving them their distinctive red colour. This is why krill oil is often referred to as ‘red krill oil’. Krill oil also contains naturally occurring vitamins A, D and E further adding to its extraordinary antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants are the body’s primary way of neutralising damaging free radicals. Numerous scientific studies indicate that antioxidants help protect the cardiovascular system, the immune system and the brain. The antioxidant activity of krill oil, due to its astaxanthin content, is approximately 50 times more than that of fish oil. In fact, if you compare krill oil against some well known nutrients, krill oil is nearly 50 times more potent than lutein and 300 times more potent than vitamin E.

The astaxanthin found in krill oil capsules is specially bound to the omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, making these essential fatty acids highly available to the body. Additionally, the astaxanthin is also more available to the body resulting in greater protection against damaging free radicals from our diet and environment.

As mentioned earlier, krill oil contains the same essential fatty acids as fish oils, EPA and DHA. However, in fish oils these omega 3 fats are found in a triglyceride form. Triglycerides are basically circulating fats that are used as an energy source. If these triglycerides are not used for energy, they are converted into fats and stored onto the fat cells of our bodies.

The omega 3 fatty acids in krill oil are found in a phospholipid structure. This structure closely resembles those of our cell walls and hence the omega 3’s in krill oil are absorbed hundreds of times more efficiently than those in fish oils.

What are the benefits of krill oil capsules?

Krill oil has many benefits and these include:

  • Supporting healthy heart function.
  • Supporting healthy joint flexibility and helping to alleviate joint pain.
  • May help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Helps prevent oxidation of cholesterol as well as helping to support the lowering of cholesterol.
  • Helps fight ageing due to its antioxidant properties.
  • Plays a positive role in the immune system.
  • Helps liver detoxification.
  • Is useful as a source of energy.
  • Is essential for a healthy nervous system.
  • May help support mood.
  • Helps support concentration.
  • Does not repeat, a common problem with fish oils.

Some of these benefits can also be attributable to high quality fish oils, however krill oil is greatly absorbed by the body and easily utilised making it the best source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Please note that krill oil should not be used by anyone who has an allergy to shellfish. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, or simply do not consume any fish, most vegetarian sources of omega 3 fatty acids, such as flaxseeds and hempseeds, are not converted into EPA and DHA by the body in any meaningful amounts. There is only one vegetarian source that I know of that is comparable to fish oils, echium seed oil which is marketed as a supplement named Echiomega.

How sustainable is krill oil?

Some concerns have been raised as to the over-farming of krill for human consumption. Krill is the largest biomass on earth and less than two percent is actually harvested each year. Krill harvesting is regulated stringently under an international management of 25 countries by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. It is interesting to note that out of the two percent that is farmed, almost 90 percent of this is used for sport fishing bait and the rest is used for human consumption with less than one percent being used for supplementation.

Why you should take krill oil

The human body cannot manufacture omega 3 essential fatty acids and these have to be obtained from our diet. Vegetarian sources of omega 3’s are converted poorly by the body into their active components and thus it is well recognised that animal based omega 3’s are the best source. Whilst fish oil supplements are the most widely used sources of omega 3’s, they are not without problems which I have referred to above.

I recommend Power of Krill capsules by LifeFlo because the krill is derived from the pristine deep water seas of the Antarctic Ocean and is free from heavy metals and other contaminants. Krill oil capsules are therefore cleaner, utilised more effectively than fish oil capsules and offers numerous protective benefits to the body.

This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Nutrition, Shabir Daya | , , , , , , , ,
  • Peter

    How do the benefits of Krill Oil compare with a supplement which obtains Omega 3 directly from marine algae, such as Marine Algae-3?

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Peter, Marine Algae provides the same source of omega 3 fatty acids as fish oils do – that is that these omega 3’s are in a triglyceride form which is a long chain molecule so is not as absorbed by the cells as the omega 3’s from krill oil which are in a phospholipid form which resembles the cell membrane. Marine Algae is useful for vegetarians and vegans though there are other vegetarian sources which are excellent such as Ahiflower Oil. Shabir

  • jen

    Hi Shabir,
    I think you answered my question with ahiflower oil already! I was going to ask about a good omega 3 supplement for vegans. I see the q&a was a while ago though, so is there anything new you’d recommend or is ahiflower still best?
    Many thanks, Jen

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Jen, Ahiflower oil is a great source of essential fats for vegans but we cannot source this from the UK. There is another option from echium seed oil called Echiomega which have been shown to be equally effective.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Angie

    Hi Shabir:

    How does Krill Oil compare to a Flax Seed Oil capsule? Thank you.

    Best wishes,
    Angie

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Angie, the essential fatty acids within vegetarian sources such as flax and hemp are ill-converted into the active components EPA and DHA found in fish and krill oil. The only two vegetarian sources that I know are efficient are found in ahilflower oil and echium seed oil. The echium seed oil is marketed as Echiomega capsules.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Mary McGrorykennedy

    Much of the seas of the Antarctic Ocean is polluted.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Sadly I have to agree with you regarding the pollution that man creates. All the more reason to take krill oil since this shrimp-like creature does not have a liver to hold onto the toxins.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Mary McGrorykennedy

    I didn’t know that..Thank you

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    You are welcome Mary.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Dear Angela, krill oil does not contain high strengths of essential fatty acids such as EPA and DHA however because these are presented in a phospholipid base, these essential fatty acids are able to enter the cells making krill oil the supplement of choice. Cleanmarine Krill Oil for Kids is the one of choice as per link below.
    https://www.victoriahealth.com/product/Cleanmarine-Krill-Oil-for-Kids/10550
    If you still wish to use a DHA based supplement, then Viridian Nutrition’s Organic Scandinavian Trout Oil is the supplement of choice as per link below.
    https://www.victoriahealth.com/product/100-Organic-Scandinavian-Rainbow-Trout-Oil/11711
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • AnneW

    Hello
    How much Vitamin A does krill oil contain? I have osteoporosis and have to be careful not to take too much Vitamin A.
    Thanks
    Anne

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Anne, krill oil contains a very small amount of naturally occurring vitamin A – very small enough not to quantify it on the ingredients listings.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • AnneW

    Thanks for the swift reply!

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Pat, there are many manufacturers of krill oil that cannot guarantee sustainable sources of their Krill oil. Both Life-Flo and Neubria belong to these bodies however if you do still fee the need to change then I would consider Viridian Nutrition’s 100% Sustainable Scandinavian Rainbow Trout Oil which is available in capsule and liquid forms.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    You are welcome Pat.

  • Claire Bland

    Hi Shabir ,
    I notice you normally recommend power of krill oil but recently the lion one , I’m 51 and looking to support hormonal balance, joints etc which oil would you recommend please ?
    Thanks Claire

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Claire, I have been recommending the Lion Heart fish oils in the supplements through the ages but krill would also be suitable. The Lion Heart omega 3’s are not from cod liver oil which is not the source I would ever recommend.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir