Is Krill Oil Better Than Fish Oil? ---Let's
Look at the Evidence
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March 2, 2013, last updated April 29, 2015
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and members of our
Editorial Board.]









Fish oil has been flying off the shelves, snapped up by
people eager to reap the benefits of its high levels of omega-
3 fatty acids. In 2011, Americans spent $1.1 billion on fish
oil supplements, a ten-fold increase over the amount they
spent in 2001 just a decade earlier, according to the
Nutrition Health Journal.

But new studies questioning the
effectiveness of fish oil to
lower heart attacks when compared to actually eating fish
have sent many consumers scrambling to find a new "magic
pill". Many of these consumers are now turning their
attention to krill oil. Krill oil?

Krill oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids and in addition has
high levels of antioxidants and other beneficial substances.
What is krill oil? Should you switch from fish oil to krill oil for
maximum health benefits? Does krill oil present any problems
for your health?

How Omega-3s Help

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential healthy fats that contain
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA). Both krill oil and fish oil are rich in these acids,
according to 2007 research from West Virginia University.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with reduced risk of
heart disease and may help lower blood pressure,
triglycerides, and resting heart rate. Omega-3s have also
been touted as cancer-fighters – prostate and breast cancer
in particular – and may even reduce the pain and
inflammation associated with diseases like arthritis.

However, the benefits of getting your omega-3 fatty acids
from fish oil -- instead of actually eating fish itself -- are not
completely proven. Some studies show hardly any effect in
terms of reducing the risk of heart disease.

What's going on?  Why is fish oil not proven effective in all
studies. The answer could be the rate at which your body
can use EPA and DHA when it is found in fish oil supplements.

Krill oil, on the other hand, makes its omega-3 fatty acids
more easily available according to some experts.

Just What Exactly Is Krill Oil?




























Krill are not fish but crustaceans. They are small and pinky-
red colored, similar to shrimp.

Krill are critical to marine populations because they are a
major food source for whales, sharks, fish, penguins, seals,
squid and seabirds. Salmon also love to feast on krill – did
you know that the pigment in krill gives salmon skin its pink
color?

Krill oil is taken from the tissues of krill, much like how fish
oil is extracted from fish. Krill oil contains the omega-3 fatty
acids that fish oil has, but it also boasts potent antioxidants,
vitamins A and E, and substances called phospholipids. Its
unique profile may make it easier for the body to use the
omega-3 fatty acids, according to a 2004 study from McGill
University,Riverview Medical
Center in Montreal, Canada.

We looked at the scientific evidence for krill oil versus fish oil
--- which one comes out on top?

1.
Krill Oil is Clearly Better Than Fish Oil at Reducing Glucose,
Triglycerides, and LDL Levels

There aren’t many studies directly pitting krill oil against fish
oil in terms of reducing heart disease risk but the few that
exist seem to point to krill oil as being more effective. Krill oil
is better than fish oil at
reducing blood sugar levels --
something clearly important in diabetes control.

Krill oil beats fish oil in lowering triglycerides, the fat in your
blood stream. And, krill oil is better than fish oil in lowering
the amount of "bad cholesterol,
LDL, in your body.

A 2004 study from McGill University in Montreal, Canada (
Riverview Medical Center) demonstrated that,
at lower and
equal doses
, krill oil was significantly more effective than fish
oil for the reduction of glucose, total cholesterol,
triglycerides, and LDL ("bad cholesterol") levels. Krill oil was
also more effective at raising levels of HDL, good cholesterol.

The levels of krill needed to achieve these beneficial results
were lower than the levels of fish oil needed. Researchers
divided 120 participants who had already been diagnosed
with mild t moderately high cholesterol into 3 groups.

Group A took the most krill oil ---2 to 3 grams of krill oil per
day. Group B took 1 to 1.5 grams of krill oil.  Group C took  a
3 gram pill of fish oil which contained 180 mg of  EPA and
120 mg of APA per day. Finally, Group D took a placebo pill
which contained neither fish oil nor krill.

Researchers tested krill oil versus fish oil or a  placebo over
three months.

What they found was rather remarkable.

Those participants in Group A who had taken the most krill
oil -- 3 grams -- saw their levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) fall
by 39% in just 3 months.  

Their levels of triglycerides fell by 26.5%. Their levels of
total cholesterol fell by 17.90%. As for good cholesterol
(HDL), these levels rose by 59.64%, again, in just 3 months.

The next highest levels of krill  (2 grams a day) also saw
impressive declines in the bad blood profile numbers. In just
3 months, their bad (LDL) cholesterol fell by 37.4%. Their
total cholesterol fell by 18.3%, and their triglyceride levels
fell by 27.6%. Their total cholesterol fell by 18.1%. Their
good cholesterol (HDL) rose by an impressive 55%.

The group taking the lowest level of krill oil (1.5 grams a
day) saw their total cholesterol fall by 13.7% after 3
months, LDL fall by 35.7%, triglycerides fall by 11.8% and
their HDL rise by 42.7%.

As for the fish oil group, which took a 3mg pill each day,
they saw their total cholesterol drop by only 4.56%  Their
LDL dropped by only 5.88%. Their triglycerides fell by
3.15%. Their good cholesterol rose a mere 4.22%.

In other words, the krill oil supplement of 1.5 grams a day
was about 7 times more effective than the fish oil at 3 grams
a day in lowering bad cholesterol.

Krill oil was 10 times more effective at raising good
cholesterol. Krill oil was 4 times more effective at lowering
total cholesterol. That's a massive difference.

And fish oil and krill oil are similar in terms of their omega-3
make-up but krill oil has a greater potential to lower
cholesterol and triglycerides, according to a 2012 study by
the University of Bergen, Norway.

2.
Krill Oil has a Special Combination of Multiple Active
Ingredients

It’s not just the omega-3s in fish oil and krill oil that make a
difference, but the proportions they are found in and the
way they are taken up by the body. Apparently, because
omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are already incorporated into
substances called phospholipids, they have a better
cholesterol-lowering effect according to a paper presented
by Cansell, Moussaoui, Denizot, and Combe at the 2003 94th
Annual AOCS Meeting & Expo, and a 2004 study from the
Pediatric Research Laboratory, The Netherlands. Krill oil’s
bioactive ingredients are more readily available, according to
a 2011 study by Leibniz University Hannover, Germany. And
a 2007 study from West Virginia University stated that
antioxidant levels are higher in krill than in fish, which could
bring greater benefits to your health.

3.  
Can Pregnant Women Safely Take Krill Oil Supplements?

The US Food and Drug Administration advises pregnant
women and women who may become pregnant not to eat
swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark – fish high in
omega-3 fatty acids – because of the risk of mercury
contamination. If krill oil capsules and supplements are
molecularly distilled to remove heavy metals they provide an
omega-3 alternative, although check with a doctor about the
maximum levels you should take. Many fish oil supplements
are also distilled to remove mercury contamination, however,
so both krill oil and fish oil come at the same in this case.

4.
Both Krill Oil and Fish Oil Benefit Depression

Krill oil and fish oil haven’t been tested head-to-head for
their depression-fighting powers, so we can only conclude
that both function well and cannot definitely tell which one is
better.

One thing is certain, however. Krill oil does show promise in
terms of antidepressant effects. A 2013 study by Dr. K.
Wibrand, and Dr. K. Berge et al entitled “Enhanced cognitive
function and antidepressant-like effects after krill oil
supplementation in rats” found that krill oil facilitated
learning processes and provided antidepressant-like effects.

In fish oil’s favor, a 2012 study by Klinika Psychiatrii
Dorosłych UM w Poznaniu, Poland found adding omega-3
fatty acids to a standard antidepressant treatment resulted in
a marked improvement in depression symptoms in the
majority of patients with treatment-resistant depression.
(Read more about
foods that fight depression.)

5.
Krill Oil, Like Fish Oil, Helps Treat Arthritis Symptoms

Continue reading   page 1         page 2






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These tiny krill are eaten by other fish such as
salmon and give salmon their characteristic
pink color.
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