Krill Oil v Fish Oil – The Story

There is a good reason why so much is being written about krill oil and fish oil; both are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Mounting scientific evidence points to these micro-nutrients as being crucial to overall good health. Currently, people in Western countries ingest anywhere between ten to thirty times more Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3 fatty acids. Ideally the ratio of Omega-6 to 3 found in the body should be in the range of 4:1 – 1:1.

According to research a 4:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is correlated with 70% reduction in total mortality. A ratio of 2-3:1 restrains inflammation in people battling rheumatoid arthritis and a ratio of 5:1 is advantageous for people with asthma. While the optimal ratio varies according to the disease being considered, a ratio of 10:1 has been found to have unfavourable effects on health. The bottom line is, that a lower Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio reduces the chances of large number of the chronic diseases common in the world today.1

Increasing the consumption of omega-3s can reduce the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio and minimize the effects of some of the most common ailments of the twenty first century; at the same time it allows for a better quality of life. While there is no debate about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in the daily diet, the question is what is the best way to get that optimum amount?

Battle has been raging that krill oil, obtained from tiny crustaceans found in the depths of the Antarctic Ocean offer a better, more bioavailable, source of Omega-3 as compared to fish oil. The shrimp like creatures that are found at the bottom of the whale food chain, provide Omega-3s packaged as “phospholipids” rather than as “triglycerides” that are found in fish oil. A study comparing the amounts of Omega-3s in the blood of people who had taken Krill Oil against those who had taken fish oil found same Omega-3 levels in both groups, despite the fact that lesser quantity of Krill Oil was consumed than fish oil. This indicates that the Omega-3 essential fatty acids from Krill Oil are better absorbed by the body than those in fish oil.2

Previously it was believed that the reason for this was because major part of each cell membrane in our bodies is composed of phospholipids, thus making absorption easier. However more current research found that the bioavailability of Krill Oil was greater than Krill meal, which indicated that phospholipids were not the reason for greater bioavailability of Omega-3s as both house the same phospholipids.3 According to the study, Krill meal and fish oil had similar bio-availabilities while Krill oil had higher bioavailability. While the reason for this is not yet fully understood, the fact remains that more Omega-3s are available for use by the body with Krill oil than with same quantity of fish oil.

Another reason Krill oil is considered to be superior to fish oil is that Krill oil contains the potent antioxidant astaxanthin, which prevents the oxidization of the delicate fats. Oxidization of Omega-3 fatty acids renders them ineffective, and fish oil does not contain this natural protection. Hence, the slightest mishandling of fish oil during production can yield a lot containing ineffective Omega-3s.

References:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909
  2. Ulven 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).
  3. http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Superior-bioavailability-Study-backs-krill-oil-over-fish-oil-but-not-because-of-phospholipids