Omega-3 essential fatty acids offer numerous health benefits and krill is an excellent source. But how do krill oil benefits compare to those of fish oil and other sources of omega-3s?
You’re already eating wild salmon, walnuts, flax- and chia seeds. And maybe you’re supplementing your omega-3 intake with fish oil….
But is a tiny shrimp, no more than two inches in length, actually the best source of omega-3s?
Krill, the tiny shrimp-like creatures in question, are, as National Geographic puts it: “the fuel that runs the engine of the Earth’s marine ecosystems.”
Fish, birds and even massive animals like whales feast on krill. And just like salmon, these Lilliputian seafood source themselves feed on algae.
It’s the algae which gives Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill) its high omega-3 essential fatty acid content. And it’s why krill oil benefits are numerous.
Why are Omega-3’s important?
Few other nutrients have been studied as extensively as Omega-3s. In fact, a PubMed search yields over 25,000 results.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of these dietary fats is protecting the heart against disease and heart attacks.
But consider that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.
A majority of these people (and others who don’t necessarily have a weight problem) don’t eat enough natural foods with DHA and EPA. These are the two fatty acids that are considered to be the most beneficial for health.
As a result, omega-3 supplements are one of the best-selling supplements. In fact, fish oil was the most popular natural product used by adults in the United States in 2012. [SOURCE]
But there’s a few problems with fish oil.
First, the burps.
Some fish oil supplements have a taste that’s, well, fishy. And when you burp, you can taste the fish.
Secondly, certain brands of fish oil are vulnerable to spoilage. Hence, they require refrigeration.
Also, as with any other supplement, the amount of omega-3 listed on the supplement label might be lower than advertised. Such is the case with, according to ConsumerLab.com’s independent testing, Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Fish Oil.
Another reason fish oil might be intolerable for some is their relatively large size. This is particularly true of fish oil capsules.
Differences between krill oil and fish oil
For these reasons, krill has become more popular. In fact, it represents 14% of total omega-3 sales. [SOURCE]
Unlike fish oil, which is also available as a liquid, with krill, you can only get it in capsule form (most likely soft gel). And to date, unlike fish oil, you can’t get a prescription for krill.
If you hate swallowing pills, krill is definitely easier going down the gullet. Plus, there’s less of a fishy aftertaste with it.
That’s good news is you don’t like burping up the taste of fish.
But perhaps the most important difference is how much and what type of omega-3s are in each. One might assume that because of marketing hype, krill has way more EPA and DHA.
Remember, these are the two omega-3 acids that are most beneficial for health. But according to this research EPA/DHA content is less per serving in krill than fish.
Does that mean these Antarctic shrimp-like creatures, which are typically more expensive, a waste of money?
Not quite. You see, it turns out that it’s not the quantity of EPA/DHA that counts, it’s the chemical form.
According to this review on krill oil benefits for heart health, the EPA/DHA in krill are concentrated in the outer cell membranes.
What’s the big deal about that?
This research suggests that when it’s in the outer cell membranes (phospholipids), EPA/DHA is more efficiently absorbed.
Another key difference between the two is that the krill supplement might be less vulnerable to spoilage. That’s because it gets immediately processed once it’s harvested.
However, this makes it more expensive than other omega-3 supplements.
In general, though, it’s likely it’s safe for most people to take.
What is Krill Oil Used to Treat?
As it says above, perhaps the one of the biggest krill oil benefits is heart health. Numerous studies like this one offer proof that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids lowers the chance you’ll develop cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Studies like this one show that these Antarctic shrimp in gel capsule form increases blood levels in overweight and obese people.
Another benefit of taking it is it might raise HDL levels. Normal levels of HDL (the so-called good cholesterol) are associated with less risk of disease.
And there’s one component in krill called astaxanthin. It’s a type of antioxidant.
It gives salmon its red color. But more than making it colorful, research shows this antioxidant improves HDL levels.
And it’s not only HDL levels.
In fact, all aspects of cholesterol may improve if you take it.
In one study, 120 people with high cholesterol were given krill oil, fish oil, or placebo.
The results over 3 months showed that krill (taken at a dose ranging from 1-3 g daily) improved all aspects of cholesterol profile as compared to placebo.
Moreover, the study shows it’s more effective than fish oil.
In addition, it can also lower blood sugar levels.
It’s also possible that this source of omega-3, can treat symptoms of PMS and forms of arthritis. [SOURCE]
Benefits of Krill Oil for Skin
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids extend to virtually every body system. This includes the skin.
This review of several studies suggests several skin conditions may benefit from omega-3s. For example, it can improve psoriasis.
The research suggests the benefits come from taking EPA doses between 3.6–14 grams daily.
Omega-3 supplementation can also protect against sunburn, and skin cancer. [SOURCE]
Krill Oil Benefits for Weight Loss
Research proves DHA/EPA fatty acids prevent overeating in overweight individuals.
Thus, on the flip side, if you boost your omega-3 intake and lower your omega-6s, you might lose weight. So one of the potential krill oil benefits is weight loss.
As a result, pay attention to where you’re getting your food comes from. That’s because modern food production methods decreases the amount of omega-3s.
This is especially true of meat, eggs, and even fish. Research shows that foods from edible wild plants contain a good balance of omega-6s to 3s.
Purslane, a wild plant, in comparison to spinach, red leaf lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce and mustard greens, has eight times more ALA than the cultivated plants [SOURCE].
ALA is the vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. Although it’s not as potent as EPA and DHA, strive to eat several sources of ALA-rich foods, such as walnuts.
And when you go out to a restaurant before ordering salmon, ask if it’s wild. Wild salmon contains more omega-3 fatty acids than factory farmed fish.
In addition, if you eat eggs, make sure they come from free-range chickens.
The fatty acid composition of egg yolk from free-ranging chicken has an omega-6 to 3 ratio of 1:3. By comparison, factory-farmed chickens have a ratio of more than 2 to 1 in favor of omega-6s.
What’s the Best Supplement?
Of four brands tested by ConsumerLab.com, two are approved and two not approved.
The two brands not approved by the independent research group are NutriGold and Vitacost. On the other hand, Schiff’s MegaRed Extra Strength and VivaLabs are approved.