Krill Oil 48x Better Than Fish Oil?

166 Comments


Krill isn’t your average shrimp. (Photo: The Sun and Doves)

Krill oil, logically enough, comes from krill, which are small, shrimp like crustaceans that inhabit the cold ocean areas of the world, primarily the Antarctic and North Pacific Oceans.

Despite their small size–one to five centimeters in length–krill make up the largest animal biomass on the planet. According to Neptune Technologies, the Canadian company that holds the patent for krill oil extraction, there are approximately 500 million tons of krill roaming around in these northern seas, 110,000 tons of which are harvested annually.

Krill oil, like fish oil, contains both of the omega-3 fats, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), but hooked together in a different form…

In fish oil, these omega-3 fatty acids are found in the triglyceride form, whereas in krill oil they are hooked up in a double chain phospholipid structure. The fats in our own cell walls are in the phospholipid form.

Attached to the EPA leg of the phospholipid is a molecule of astaxanthin, an extremely potent anti-oxidant. The phospholipid structure of the EPA and DHA in krill oil makes them much more absorbable and allows for a much easier entrance into the mitochondria and the cellular nucleus. In addition to EPA and DHA, krill oil contains a complex phospholipid profile including phosphatidylcholine, a potent source of reductive-stress-reducing choline, which also acts as a natural emulsifier.

Krill oil contains vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and canthaxanthin, which is — like astaxanthin — a potent anti-oxidant. The anti-oxidant potency of krill oil is such that when compared to fish oil in terms of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorptance Capacity) values, it was found to be 48 times more potent than fish oil.

The astaxanthin found in krill oil provides excellent protection against ultraviolet light and UV-induced skin damage. It was for this reason that I started taking krill oil to begin with–-I discovered its other virtues later on.

A number of studies have shown that krill oil is tremendously effective in reducing LDL-cholesterol, raising HDL-cholesterol (up to 44% in some cases), and lowering blood sugar. It has been shown to be effective in treating the pain and inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis and aches and pains in general. One large study showed that krill oil has tremendous benefits in terms of symptom reduction in PMS and dysmenorrhea. And it has been shown to be effective in the treatment of adult ADHD. In all these studies krill oil was tested against fish oil and not simply a placebo.

Due to the rapid absorption of krill oil and the high anti-oxidant content there is virtually never the fishy burping and aftertaste sometimes experienced with fish oil. The jury is out right now on if and to what degree there is a problem for those people allergic to shrimp. Until the jury is in, I would be careful in taking krill oil if I had a shrimp allergy.

Are there any downsides to this substance?

Only one. It is a little more expensive than fish oil, but, as with all things, you get what you pay for. virtually all krill oil is produced by Neptune Technologies and shipped to the various supplement manufacturers, so any krill oil you get will have come from the same place and be the same dosage. The only unknown is how long it has been sitting around in a warehouse somewhere, which is, of course, the same unknown with fish oil. At least with krill oil, thanks to the high anti-oxidant content, the shelf life is much longer.

One last thing to remember: popping a couple of fish oil and krill oil caps don’t give the same immediate relief as popping a NSAID [Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.].

It takes a while–a couple of weeks in my case–for the fish oil/krill oil to provide the same degree of pain relief as the NSAID. The take home message is: don’t take your first dose and compare it to the relief you got with a dose of NSAID. In the study I mentioned in the last post, the subjects took the fish oil for two weeks along with their NSAIDs, then tapered off the drugs and treated their pain with the fish oil alone.

[Two of several clinical studies on Krill Oil (NKO) from PubMed can be found below the author bio.]

###

About the author of this post:

Dr. Michael Eades is one of the foremost bariatric (obesity treatment) doctors in the US and the first to introduce insulin resistance to the mainstream. He is author of the international bestseller, Protein Power.

Clinical Studies:

“Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.”

Kidd PM.

University of California, Berkeley, California, USA.

The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are orthomolecular, conditionally essential nutrients that enhance quality of life and lower the risk of premature death. They function exclusively via cell membranes, in which they are anchored by phospholipid molecules. DHA is proven essential to pre- and postnatal brain development, whereas EPA seems more influential on behavior and mood. Both DHA and EPA generate neuroprotective metabolites. In double-blind, randomized, controlled trials, DHA and EPA combinations have been shown to benefit attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and aggression. For the affective disorders, meta-analyses confirm benefits in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder, with promising results in schizophrenia and initial benefit for borderline personality disorder. Accelerated cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) correlate with lowered tissue levels of DHA/EPA, and supplementation has improved cognitive function. Huntington disease has responded to EPA. Omega-3 phospholipid supplements that combine DHA/EPA and phospholipids into the same molecule have shown marked promise in early clinical trials. Phosphatidylserine with DHA/EPA attached (Omega-3 PS) has been shown to alleviate AD/HD symptoms. Krill omega-3 phospholipids, containing mostly phosphatidylcholine (PC) with DHA/EPA attached, markedly outperformed conventional fish oil DHA/EPA triglycerides in double-blind trials for premenstrual syndrome/dysmenorrhea and for normalizing blood lipid profiles. Krill omega-3 phospholipids demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity, lowering C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in a double-blind trial. Utilizing DHA and EPA together with phospholipids and membrane antioxidants to achieve a triple cell membrane synergy may further diversify their currently wide range of clinical applications.

###

“Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms.”

Deutsch L.

OBJECTIVES: a) To evaluate the effect of Neptune Krill Oil (NKO) on C-reactive protein (CRP) on patients with chronic inflammation and b) to evaluate the effectiveness of NKO on arthritic symptoms. METHODS: Randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study. Ninety patients were recruited with confirmed diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and/or rheumatoid arthritis and/or osteoarthritis and with increased levels of CRP (>1.0 mg/dl) upon three consecutive weekly blood analysis. Group A received NKO (300 mg daily) and Group B received a placebo. CRP and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) osteoarthritis score were measured at baseline and days 7, 14 and 30. RESULTS: After 7 days of treatment NKO reduced CRP by 19.3% compared to an increase by 15.7% observed in the placebo group (p = 0.049). After 14 and 30 days of treatment NKO further decreased CRP by 29.7% and 30.9% respectively (p < 0.001). The CRP levels of the placebo group increased to 32.1% after 14 days and then decreased to 25.1% at day 30. The between group difference was statistically significant; p = 0.004 at day 14 and p = 0.008 at day 30. NKO showed a significant reduction in all three WOMAC scores. After 7 days of treatment, NKO reduced pain scores by 28.9% (p = 0.050), reduced stiffness by 20.3% (p = 0.001) and reduced functional impairment by 22.8% (p = 0.008). CONCLUSION: The results of the present study clearly indicate that NKO at a daily dose of 300 mg significantly inhibits inflammation and reduces arthritic symptoms within a short treatment period of 7 and 14 days.

Posted on: July 23, 2008.

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166 comments on “Krill Oil 48x Better Than Fish Oil?

  1. I have been introduced to krill oil through the well known Dr. Joseph Mercola. It is indeed a very interesting product and that I will definitely try soon.

    One thing that is worth mentioning, krill oil is not only a good product but also a source that is a lot easier to replenish compared to fish oil, which is in high demand due to its high consumption.

    Like

    • Dr. Mercola’s Krill is pretty good but he just doesn’t seem to be trying as hard to offer value as other places.

      His Krill Oil only has 90 MG of EPA and 50MG of DHA with very little astaxanthin. Others have WAY more!

      Like

  2. I’ve recommended Krill oil to two friends, both of which had high cholesterol that drugs were not able to get down. Both of them were able to both lower their cholesterol and get off of the drugs. They had tried all sorts of natural methods previously, including fish oils. (Not that I’m that much into the cholesterol theory of heart disease, but they were.)

    I’ve also seen it work for prostate issues…okay, my prostate issues. As long as I take it I’m perfectly fine. If I stop, it’s multiple bathroom trips at night.

    Anecdote is not proof, but these experiences mirror those described by many others. I think it’s great stuff, and I recommend it to everyone.

    Like

  3. Tim,
    Please link to any study that compares krill oil to NSAIDS. Specifically any study published by a major medical journal. Beyond that I can’t just believe krill oil works.

    ###

    Hi Roger,

    I’ve pasted two clinical studies from PubMed (one from UC Berkeley) in the comments below and will put them at the end of the post as well.

    Best,

    Tim

    Like

  4. Molecularly distilled (i.e. contaminant-free) fish oil is a big deal among some types, especially those who are scared of lead or mercury poisoning in seafood. Is similar contamination a concern with krill oil?

    Like

  5. Hi All,

    Thanks for the great comments and questions. A few things, including clinicals and research:

    1. I use krill oil (about 1,000mg/day post-exercise) and also consume copious amounts of extra light olive oil, but…

    2. Please remember that this article is by Dr. Eades, not me. I’ll likely post a follow-up from Dr. Eades with additional clinical information. In the meantime, here are several abstracts from PubMed (there are more):

    “Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.”

    Kidd PM.

    University of California, Berkeley, California, USA.

    The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are orthomolecular, conditionally essential nutrients that enhance quality of life and lower the risk of premature death. They function exclusively via cell membranes, in which they are anchored by phospholipid molecules. DHA is proven essential to pre- and postnatal brain development, whereas EPA seems more influential on behavior and mood. Both DHA and EPA generate neuroprotective metabolites. In double-blind, randomized, controlled trials, DHA and EPA combinations have been shown to benefit attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and aggression. For the affective disorders, meta-analyses confirm benefits in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder, with promising results in schizophrenia and initial benefit for borderline personality disorder. Accelerated cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) correlate with lowered tissue levels of DHA/EPA, and supplementation has improved cognitive function. Huntington disease has responded to EPA. Omega-3 phospholipid supplements that combine DHA/EPA and phospholipids into the same molecule have shown marked promise in early clinical trials. Phosphatidylserine with DHA/EPA attached (Omega-3 PS) has been shown to alleviate AD/HD symptoms. Krill omega-3 phospholipids, containing mostly phosphatidylcholine (PC) with DHA/EPA attached, markedly outperformed conventional fish oil DHA/EPA triglycerides in double-blind trials for premenstrual syndrome/dysmenorrhea and for normalizing blood lipid profiles. Krill omega-3 phospholipids demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity, lowering C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in a double-blind trial. Utilizing DHA and EPA together with phospholipids and membrane antioxidants to achieve a triple cell membrane synergy may further diversify their currently wide range of clinical applications.

    ###

    “Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms.”

    Deutsch L.

    OBJECTIVES: a) To evaluate the effect of Neptune Krill Oil (NKO) on C-reactive protein (CRP) on patients with chronic inflammation and b) to evaluate the effectiveness of NKO on arthritic symptoms. METHODS: Randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study. Ninety patients were recruited with confirmed diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and/or rheumatoid arthritis and/or osteoarthritis and with increased levels of CRP (>1.0 mg/dl) upon three consecutive weekly blood analysis. Group A received NKO (300 mg daily) and Group B received a placebo. CRP and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) osteoarthritis score were measured at baseline and days 7, 14 and 30. RESULTS: After 7 days of treatment NKO reduced CRP by 19.3% compared to an increase by 15.7% observed in the placebo group (p = 0.049). After 14 and 30 days of treatment NKO further decreased CRP by 29.7% and 30.9% respectively (p < 0.001). The CRP levels of the placebo group increased to 32.1% after 14 days and then decreased to 25.1% at day 30. The between group difference was statistically significant; p = 0.004 at day 14 and p = 0.008 at day 30. NKO showed a significant reduction in all three WOMAC scores. After 7 days of treatment, NKO reduced pain scores by 28.9% (p = 0.050), reduced stiffness by 20.3% (p = 0.001) and reduced functional impairment by 22.8% (p = 0.008). CONCLUSION: The results of the present study clearly indicate that NKO at a daily dose of 300 mg significantly inhibits inflammation and reduces arthritic symptoms within a short treatment period of 7 and 14 days.

    Hope that helps, and keep up the conversation :)

    Tim

    Like

  6. Interesting article. I’ve messed with Omega 3’s before with some success. Do you know if Krill Oil gives any benefits to weight lifters?

    Like

  7. Hi Tim,
    According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (basically, the Consumer Report equivalent of Nutrition), which puts out the Nutrition Action News Healthletter, too much vitamin A can increase risk for hip fractures, liver abnormalities, and birth defects (beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, doesn’t cause those problems. Very high doses can increase risk for lung cancer in smokers. They advocate not getting more than 4,00 IU of retinol (or 5,000 IU beta carotene, vitamin A) from supplements. More than 400 IU of vitamin E a day may slightly increase one’s risk of dying. It would be nice if any of the Krill sellers (all very sketchy websites) would tell us how much vitamin A/E is in each pill.

    CSPI net are located at: http://www.cspinet.org/
    They are the folks who nailed Sara Lee for calling their whole grain bread whole grain – when it is only 30% so. And they are nailing the trans fat people, too.

    Lastly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed rule that would have protected krill, the organisms that form the foundation of the marine food web, was rejected (… perhaps a result of the pharmaceutical companies’ lobbyists….) Maybe we should think about our environment, before we all start taking a supplement without any large scale clinical trials (that aren’t funded by drug companies…) that might damage it.

    Tim, I am surprised that you endorsed this supplement at this stage in its development. I am also surprised that none of the websites detailing it actually show the IU levels of vitamins that it contains (E, A, D, etc.) Tim, it is important to look at who is funding the studies that you are citing. If the drug companies are funding them, there is a problem there… no?

    I was recently on ABC’s show, 20/20 talking about vitamins and supplements. If you are interested in what I learned during the experience, feel free to contact me.

    A.M.

    Like

    • The biomass of krill is about 500 million tons. Of that we harvest about 110 thousand tons a year. What is that about .002%? I don’t think it is a problem at the moment.

      Like

  8. Thanks for the advice Doc and also Tim for spreading the message. I have been taking fish oil for a few years now with pretty good results and have only in the last month or so seen krill oil enter the market here in Australia. After reading I think I will make the switch once this bottle is empty.

    After years using NSAID’s in my teens (as well as SAID’s) I now find little, if any, benefit from them in my early twenty’s.

    Like

  9. Hey Tim, really interesting post.

    I’m not sure how much to buy into it though. Part of my doubt is attributable to the massive hype surrounding Omega 3 and its capacity to mitigate ADHD. I didn’t follow it in actual medical journals, but I know that a great deal of the hype surrounding it was propagated after a study showing improvements in the mental performance of a group of British children. But as I understand it, it was an uncontrolled study and the children were taking Omega 3 while adopting a variety of other major dietary changes.

    Trying to take these nutrients are, for students such as myself, serious financial investments, and I can’t afford to buy into speculation. Many nutrients such as these come with the “non-FDA approved” disclaimers. How does one discern between the legitimate and illegitimate claims without trying to grapple with esoteric medical / nutritional journalism? At least in the case of Omega 3 and krill oil?

    Thanks in advance if you end up answering this,

    Zeeshan A

    Like

  10. I’d be interested in hearing from Mr. Ferriss what, if any, fish oil supplement he takes.

    This is a cool article, very exciting and worth looking into. I usually stick to the basics in my supplementation: protein, creatine and fish oil. If this stuff gets more bang for the buck so to speak, then it would be a welcome replacement.

    Does one take Krill in addition to fish oil? Or replace fish oil all together?

    -CD

    Like

  11. Great Post,

    I very much enjoyed an informative and brief article. Is there a specific brand by which you recommend?

    Best to you,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    P.S. I will be in Nicaragua on the 19th-29th of Aug 08, so I have not forgotten about posting the youtube URL. I am going to be doing some volcano surfing, pics and videos to arrive soon enough. Oh and btw check out Corn Island : )………. the small one( there are 2)

    Like

  12. Yo Tim,

    Thanks for the informative post. My dad is diabetic AND arthritic. I’ll pass this along to him.

    Also, a quick google search yielded this link about how the over-fishing of Krill is endangering the ocean’s ecosystem: http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/25/business/krill.php

    Curious to know your thoughts?

    Please don’t take this as an underhanded RainbowGathering Greenpeace attempt at a message… (not that there’d be anything wrong with that ;-)). I really dig your work and would love to hear your opinions and thoughts about how to reconcile our (human’s) desire for krill oil versus the Ocean’s depletion of these wee shrimpies.

    The force is strong in dees gwan,
    D

    ###

    Hi David,

    I read the Herald Tribune article, which is excellent. I would note, however, that the threat they rightly identify is a future threat based on potential abuse of new harvest technologies, combined with climate change that decreases the krill population. The “Overfishing of Krill Threatens Ocean Ecosystem” headline should really have a “Potential” in front of it. Here’s one portion of their introduction or lede:

    “So far, difficulties in processing krill on ships, high fuel prices and the expense of sending fleets to the bottom of the globe has kept a lid on annual catches, which remain far below levels set under a treaty governing Antarctic marine life.”

    I suspect that two things will keep future yields below the same levels: 1) rising gasoline prices (costs of sending fleets is increasing, not decreasing), and 2) food security legislation, particularly with an organism low on the food chain.

    Hope that helps!

    Tim

    Like

  13. I take a tablespoon of high quality Norwegian fish oil (CarlsenLabs.com) each day along with Black Strap Molasses and Flax Seed Oil. Molasses? yup the Uridine is great for many things including mood.
    Regarding fish oil and Omega-3, there is a great book out called, “The Queen of Fats” and there are many studies on the benefits.
    Krill is something new to me but makes sense and I look forward to looking into it further.

    Like

  14. An interesting article! Do you have some references for the studies you mentioned? I’d like to read more background on it.

    Like