Why Is Antarctic Krill Oil So Important To Your Overall Health?
18 minute read
Are you familiar with krill oil? Although we read or hear about the many benefits of fish oil, we rarely hear about krill oil, despite the fact that krill oil is largely considered to be a safer and more eco-friendly source of crucial omega-3 fatty acids.
| Related: Can Krill Oil Protect Against Rheumatoid Arthritis |
To help you become familiar with the best source of omega-3, the following offers an in-depth look at krill oil, including what is krill and krill oil, krill oil benefits, how to select the best krill oil, and the best krill oil brand on the market.
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Explore the Krill Oil Guide
What are Krill?
With an average size of 2.4 inches and a weight of less than 1 oz., krill are small crustaceans that look similar to shrimp. Found in the chilly waters of the Antarctic, they play a critical role in the food chain, essentially the fuel that runs the Earth’s marine ecosystems. In fact, they are the primary staple in the diets of hundreds of different marine animals, including fish, mantas, baleen whales, and birds.
In the Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean, there are estimated to be between 125 million to 6 billion tons of krill swimming in swarms together.3
What is Krill Oil?
Just like it sounds, Krill oil is simply oil extracted from krill. Beginning in the 1980s, researchers started looking at krill oil, precisely at which valuable nutrients krill oil contains and in what amounts, how it differed from fish oils, and what specific health benefits it offered.
They found that krill oil not only offers all the health benefits of fish oil, but also upped the ante, thanks to a variety of unique properties. This was largely due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In particular, krill oil is an excellent source of DHA and EPA.10
Why Krill Oil Is Better Than Fish Oil
Before looking at health benefits, here is a quick look at why krill oil is the ideal supplement to reap all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
It is bioavailable. Bioavailability is the proportion of a substance that enters the circulatory system in order to have an active impact. DHA and EPA, the long-chain fatty acids found in krill oil and fish oil that provide numerous health benefits, must be packaged into lipoproteins for absorption.
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are bundled with triglycerides that the digestive process must break down into DHA and EPA. This process is less efficient, as up to 80 percent or more is eliminated as waste
In contrast, krill oil is packaged with phospholipids, which provide a more efficient delivery system to be utilized by the body.2
Phospholipids provide greater benefits. A major component of all cell membranes, phospholipids are one of the main compounds in high-density lipoproteins, which are also known as HDL ("good" cholesterol).
In addition to helping cells maintain their structural integrity for proper function, phospholipids are able to efficiently cross the blood-brain barrier, which is key to the ability to benefit cognitive function.
Krill oil is more potent. A 2011 study concluded that the metabolic effects of krill oil were similar to that of fish oil but at lower doses of EPA and DHA, which signifies that less krill oil is needed for benefits.1,5
Krill oil contains phosphatidylcholine. In order for fish oil to become bioavailable, the liver must attach to phosphatidylcholine; in contrast, krill oil contains this key component. In addition, phosphatidylcholine contains choline, the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and trimethlglycine, which protects the liver.6
Phosphatidylcholine provides numerous health benefits, including improved cognitive function and liver repair.
| Related: How Krill Oil Can Help You Combat Obesity |
Krill oil has greater metabolic impact. Animal studies have concluded that krill oil has a greater impact on gene expression and metabolism than fish oil does. Omega-3 fats and other nutrients have the ability to control gene "switches" that control glucose production, lipid synthesis, cellular energy, oxidation, and numerous other biochemical processes.7
Mice fed both krill oil and fish oil experienced enhanced glucose metabolism, lipid metabolism, and decreased cholesterol synthesis with krill oil, which lowered both triglyceride and cholesterol levels and increased energy production.
An additional study concluded that krill oil stimulates certain mitochondrial pathways such as fatty acid oxidation, respiratory chain complexes, and the Krebs cycle, which restore energy metabolism. Krill oil helps to improve lipid and glucose metabolism, potentially protecting against dietary-associated fatty liver disease.14
| Related: Boost Your Eye Health With Krill Oil |
Krill oil contains astaxanthin. In addition to its role in stabilizing krill oil from oxidation, this antioxidant that provides krill with their hue has numerous health benefits. According to studies, astaxanthin may protect against free-radicals associated with neurodegenerative processes and decreasing cognitive ability caused by oxidative stress.
Krill oil is pure. Mercury and other toxins found in fish oil are non-detectable in krill oil. This is because krill live in the Earth’s cleanest ocean and are herbivores that feeds on phytoplankton rather than fish, which have accumulated mercury.
It is sustainable. Less than 1 percent of the krill living in the ocean is harvested each year, meaning that the population is not in any danger.
The aftertaste is more tolerable. Unlike fish oil supplements that tend to have a fishy aftertaste, krill oil supplements are easier to swallow and free of that fishy taste. In addition, people who take krill oil supplements report that they are usually well-tolerated and result in very side effects.
Health Benefits of Krill Oil Supplements
Krill oil provides numerous health benefits, from improved cardiovascular health to alleviated symptoms of arthritis, such as inflammation and discomfort. Here are just a few of the top scientifically proven health benefits.
Krill oil promotes joint health. Krill oil relieves inflammation, which can lead to the breakdown of tissue and cartilage in your joints, resulting in stiffness and pain. In addition, krill oil supports joint flexibility.12
Krill oil reduces triglyceride levels. Krill oil is a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids that play a huge role in your cardiovascular health. For example, the use of krill oil supplements is believed to lower triglyceride levels twice as much as traditional fish oil.
In one study involving adults with borderline high or high triglyceride levels, levels were reduced by more than 10%. This is important because triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.8
| Related: Keep High Cholesterol In Check With Krill Oil |
Krill oil promotes overall heart health. In addition to lowering triglyceride levels, omega-3s have been shown to improve good cholesterol (HDL) levels, and to lower blood pressure, as well as even preventing and treating atherosclerosis by stopping the development of artery-clogging blood clots, which often lead to strokes and heart attacks.7
Krill oil also decreases the amount of fat in the heart. In the same study referenced above, researchers found that krill oil decreased the fat content in the heart by a whopping 42%, while fish oil only resulted in a 2% drop.11
The omega-3s in krill oil have a positive effect on the brain function. Deficient levels of omega-3 in the body have been linked to a variety of neurological problems and degenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss related to aging.
In addition, low omega-3 levels have been linked to the exacerbation of depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Krill oil supplements contain the high levels of omega-3s needed to ensure the brain is functioning optimally.9
Metabolism, & Digestive Health
Krill oil helps to regulate key metabolic processes. Studies show that krill oil is vastly superior to fish oil when it comes to regulating metabolic processes, including fat and glucose metabolism. In addition, krill oil can help regulate insulin levels.
Krill oil can help you achieve your weight loss goals. Insufficient levels of omega-3s impact the body’s ability to efficiently burn calories, which can result in weight gain. Combining a krill oil supplement with a healthy diet and exercise can help you reach your weight loss goals.
Recent research indicates that the omega-3s found in krill oil may reduce gastric inflammation, proving to be very beneficial in the treatment of H. pylori.
Krill oil reduces the amount of fat in the liver. In one study, the amount of fat in the liver was reduced by 60% after the administration of krill oil, while fish oil only reduced fat by 38%. This is important because excess fat in the liver can lead to a variety of serious health problems, such as cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, and gastrointestinal bleeding.13,14
Inflammation, Skin Health & Healing
Krill oil is particularly effective at decreasing inflammation in the body. In one study, 90% of participants noticed a decrease in arthritis symptoms, such as swelling and pain, within 7 to 14 days of starting a 300 mg krill oil supplement.15
Thanks to the high level of omega-3s, krill oil has a positive effect on the skin health, and wound healing. For example, it helps decrease acne eruptions and redness, while also helping fade the appearance of scars. At the same time, the omega-3s, along with vitamins A and E, promote wound healing.
Krill oil helps relieve dysmenorrhea. In one study, women who took krill oil supplements reported improved abdominal pain caused by menstruation. At the same time, they took fewer doses of pain relievers than women who took fish oil supplements.
In a separate study, krill oil proved to effectively remove the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including breast tenderness and emotional symptoms.12
Choosing the Best Krill Oil Supplement
Now, that it is pretty obvious how important krill oil is to your overall health, it’s time to look at how to choose the best krill oil supplement to add to your daily routine. Before you venture into the vast world of krill oil supplements, you may want to check out user reviews online to help you narrow down your options.
Whether you choose to do this or not, here are the most significant factors to consider when you start to look at individual supplements.
100% pure: Do not waste your time considering any supplements that do not say they are 100% pure krill oil supplements. You may also see labels that say "100% pure antarctic krill oil," which is to be expected since krill are primarily found in the Antarctic waters.
Serving Size: As a general rule, it is best to stick with a serving size of at least 1,000 mg.
Omega-3 content: Due to all the health benefits associated with it, Omega-3 content is crucial. You want this number to be as high as possible. Opt for a supplement that contains at least 150 mg of omega-3.
EPA/ DHA: These are the specific omega-3 fatty acids that are responsible for the major health benefits found in krill oil supplements. Once again, more is better. Opt for a supplement that contains at least 100 mg of EPA and 55 mg of DHA.4
Total phospholipids: Researchers agree that it’s the phospholipids that make the omega-3s in krill oil superior to that found in fish oil. The higher the phospholipid content, the higher the quality of the krill oil. Look for a supplement that contains at least 400 mg of omega-3 phospholipids.
Astaxanthin: Considered to be a super–antioxidant, astaxanthin also helps set krill oil apart from fish oil. Again, the higher the number, the better the supplement. Look for a supplement that contains at least 500 mcg of astaxanthin.
Product testing: Opt for a supplement that has been tested by an independent, third-party laboratory to ensure it doesn’t contain high levels of harmful substances or heavy metals. This also verifies potency and any claims on the label. You may find this information on the label itself or you may have to visit the manufacturer’s website.
cGMPs: You will want to make certain any supplement you select has been manufactured according to current federally mandated Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs). You will also want to make sure the process is highly controlled to avoid any cross-contamination by potential allergens.
Shelf life/ Storage details: Before you buy any type of supplement, you should always check the expiration date to be sure it is far enough out that you will be able to finish the bottle before the supplement expires.
Although it may not make you too sick to take an expired supplement, you will not reap all the health benefits you started taking it for in the first place. This is also a good time to check the storage directions to make sure you store the supplement exactly as the manufacturer recommends.
Form: Most experts in the field recommend taking either a soft gel capsule or the patented “capliques” for maximum efficiency.
Cost: Never automatically assume that the most expensive supplement is of the highest quality, nor that the cheapest supplement is inferior to all the others. To get the best value for your money, start by ensuring the supplement contains the high levels of omega-3s, astaxanthin, and phospholipids that are so important. Then, look at the cost per serving.
What is K-Real® Krill Oil?
K·REAL® krill oil derived from Antarctic krill is extracted using a clinically-proven technology to enhance bioavailability and absorption. The Multi-Stage Oil (MSO®) extraction technology utilizes several proprietary processes to ensure freshness of oil, as well as improved quality, purity, potency, and consistency.
How to Take Krill Oil
Krill oil should be taken with a meal. In order to maintain consistency, aim to take the supplement the same time each day as part of your routine. As with all supplements, please consult your physician when starting a new supplement.
What is the Best Krill Oil Brand?
With so many krill oil brands on the market, how can you choose the most effective? Look for 100% pure krill oil that has been third-party tested and contains adequate levels of omega-3s, phospholipids, EPA/DHA, and astaxanthin. Consider product reviews when you are looking for the best krill oil supplement.
A Few Final Thoughts
Krill oil is an eco-friendly source of omega-3 fatty acids that can play an important role in supporting health, as well as addressing multiple health conditions. When choosing a krill supplement, there are numerous considerations, including potency, components, and form. Krill oil supplements are a worthwhile addition to your health regimen.
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