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Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: which is the better Omega 3 supplement

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: which is the better Omega 3 supplement

What exactly is Krill Oil?

Antarctic Krill are small crustaceans that look very much like tiny shrimp. They live in the chilly Antarctic ocean depths, and are the primary food source for baleen whales such as humpback and blue whales.  

Krill harvesting is strictly regulated by the independent body, CCAMLR, to ensure the industry remains environmentally sustainable1.  The oil that is extracted from krill contains the same Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) as fish oil: Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).  These EFAs are responsible for the many health benefits of fish oil.  

So what are the differences between the two oils, and which is better for you? 

Researched benefits of Krill Oil 

Natural health experts extrapolate many of the therapeutic effects of Krill Oil from those of fish oil.  Studies show that the Omega 3 EFAs in fish oil have an anti-inflammatory effect, and help to maintain heart health and cholesterol balance2,3.  It seems reasonable that the Omega 3 EFAs in Krill Oil would have exactly the same benefits.

However, some studies have specifically investigated Krill Oil. One double-blind, placebo controlled trial suggested that Krill Oil could be more effective than fish oil at helping to balance cholesterol levels4.  Other research has looked at the effects of Krill Oil on conditions such as arthritis and PMS, but has been less conclusive.

Phospholipids and Omega 3 serum levels

Krill oil contains proportionally less Omega 3 EFAs than fish oil does. However, compelling evidence exists to show that what EFAs it does contain are far more bioavailable.

Scientists believe that this is because the Omega 3 EFAs in fish oil are packaged as marine trigylycerides.  In Krill Oil, by contrast, the EFAs appear as compounds called “phospholipids”.  Our bodies digest these two Omega 3 forms differently, and studies suggest that the phospholipids may be easier to absorb5.

A further study compared levels of Omega 3 in the plasma of people who’d taken Krill Oil with those of people who’d taken fish oil6. It found that although the Krill Oil group took significantly less Omega 3, their serum levels were identical to the fish oil group’s. This result suggests that participants absorbed the EFAs in the krill oil better than they absorbed those in the fish oil.

So which is the better Omega 3 supplement? Krill oil or fish oil?

Without more research, it’s probably too early to say that one oil is better than the other. Krill Oil may not provide as much Omega 3, but its phospholipids mean that the EFAs it does contain are far better absorbed.

We do know, however, that both oils are good sources of Omega 3, and that most New Zealanders need to increase their Omega 3 intake. So whichever oil you pick, you’ll probably be doing yourself a favour.

1http://www.ccamlr.org/en/fisheries/fisheries
2http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21684
3http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet
4Bunea R, El Farrah K, Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9:420-428.
5http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759467
6Ulven S.M. Kirkhus B. Lamglait A. Basu S. Elind E. Haider T. Berge K. Vik, H. Pedersen J.I.  Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers  Lipids (2011) 46:1 (37-46).

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Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: which is the better Omega 3 supplement

The oil that is extracted from krill contains the same Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) as fish oil. What is the difference & which is a more effective?

What exactly is Krill Oil?

Antarctic Krill are small crustaceans that look very much like tiny shrimp. They live in the chilly Antarctic ocean depths, and are the primary food source for baleen whales such as humpback and blue whales.  

Krill harvesting is strictly regulated by the independent body, CCAMLR, to ensure the industry remains environmentally sustainable1.  The oil that is extracted from krill contains the same Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) as fish oil: Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).  These EFAs are responsible for the many health benefits of fish oil.  

So what are the differences between the two oils, and which is better for you? 

Researched benefits of Krill Oil 

Natural health experts extrapolate many of the therapeutic effects of Krill Oil from those of fish oil.  Studies show that the Omega 3 EFAs in fish oil have an anti-inflammatory effect, and help to maintain heart health and cholesterol balance2,3.  It seems reasonable that the Omega 3 EFAs in Krill Oil would have exactly the same benefits.

However, some studies have specifically investigated Krill Oil. One double-blind, placebo controlled trial suggested that Krill Oil could be more effective than fish oil at helping to balance cholesterol levels4.  Other research has looked at the effects of Krill Oil on conditions such as arthritis and PMS, but has been less conclusive.

Phospholipids and Omega 3 serum levels

Krill oil contains proportionally less Omega 3 EFAs than fish oil does. However, compelling evidence exists to show that what EFAs it does contain are far more bioavailable.

Scientists believe that this is because the Omega 3 EFAs in fish oil are packaged as marine trigylycerides.  In Krill Oil, by contrast, the EFAs appear as compounds called “phospholipids”.  Our bodies digest these two Omega 3 forms differently, and studies suggest that the phospholipids may be easier to absorb5.

A further study compared levels of Omega 3 in the plasma of people who’d taken Krill Oil with those of people who’d taken fish oil6. It found that although the Krill Oil group took significantly less Omega 3, their serum levels were identical to the fish oil group’s. This result suggests that participants absorbed the EFAs in the krill oil better than they absorbed those in the fish oil.

So which is the better Omega 3 supplement? Krill oil or fish oil?

Without more research, it’s probably too early to say that one oil is better than the other. Krill Oil may not provide as much Omega 3, but its phospholipids mean that the EFAs it does contain are far better absorbed.

We do know, however, that both oils are good sources of Omega 3, and that most New Zealanders need to increase their Omega 3 intake. So whichever oil you pick, you’ll probably be doing yourself a favour.

1http://www.ccamlr.org/en/fisheries/fisheries
2http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21684
3http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet
4Bunea R, El Farrah K, Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9:420-428.
5http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/759467
6Ulven S.M. Kirkhus B. Lamglait A. Basu S. Elind E. Haider T. Berge K. Vik, H. Pedersen J.I.  Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers  Lipids (2011) 46:1 (37-46).
Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: which is the better Omega 3 supplement
 
 

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