Q: What is krill oil? Is it true that it can be as good for you as fish oil?
A: Krill oil is extracted from Antarctic krill, the tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that whales feed on. Whales are the world’s largest mammal, and krill are the world’s largest animal biomass.
The composition of krill oil is different from that of fish oil. Krill oil is rich in phospholipids, which are important in healthy nerve and brain cell function. In addition, krill oil contains high amounts of EPA and DHA (omega-3 fats found in seafood) and potent antioxidants, including astaxanthin, and vitamins A and E.
Antioxidants help make krill oil more stable by protecting its delicate omega-3 fats from free-radical damage.
Krill oil plays a role in reducing inflammation in the body, and thus may help those suffering from joint pain and other inflammatory disorders; at the same time, krill oil decreases cholesterol and blood fats. It may achieve both of these results with greater efficiency than fish oil because the omega-3 fats found in krill oil are more easily assimilated through the small intestine.
Omega-3 fats have long been known to decrease inflammation. Although some omega-6 fats are beneficial, in excess they increase inflammation. (Most Americans eat a surplus of omega-6 fats in soy, corn and cottonseed oils.) When omega-3 fats are increased in the diet and omega-6 fats are decreased, friendly prostaglan-dins (hormone-like substances) are formed, resulting in less inflammation.
Krill oil’s ability to outperform fish oils in decreasing cholesterol and blood fats was backed up by a recent study. A 12-week, double-blind randomized trial published in Alternative Medicine Review in December concluded that “krill oil is effective for the management of hyperlipidemia (excess blood fats) by significantly reducing total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, and increasing HDL levels.”
The article stressed that “at lower and equal doses, krill oil was significantly more effective than fish oil for the reduction of glucose, triglycerides and LDL levels.”
Since cardiovascular disease has a high mortality rate in the United States — 39.9 percent for men, 43.7 percent for women — despite advances in medical diagnosis and treatment, krill oil may play an important role in decreasing the risks of this disease.
Krill oil can be purchased at your health-food store. The recommended daily dose is one to three grams, or 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams.
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com