Krill oil omega-3s seen to be effective at lower levels

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Krill oil, Omega-3 fatty acid, Epa

Aker’s krill oil has similar effects as fish oil on serum lipids, markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, but with lower doses of EPA and DHA, a new study in healthy volunteers has concluded.

EPA and DHA have been researched for a gamut of health benefits, including cardiovascular, ocular, inflammatory. However in fish oil the omega-3 fatty acids are in trigyceride form, whereas in krill oil they are in phospholipid form.

The new study, published in the open access Springer journal Lipids, set out to investigate the effects of krill oil and fish oil on serum lipids and markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, and to see whether the different molecular forms – triacylglycerol and phospholipids – of omega-3 make a difference on plasma levels of EPA and DHA.

The study was carried out by researchers from Akershus University College, University of Oslo, Norway, and from Aker BioMarine. Aker’s branded Superba krill oil was used.

A total of 113 participants with normal or slightly elevated total blood cholesterol were randomised into three groups. Thirty-six were given 6 capsules of 3g krill oil a day, with 543mg of EHA + DHA; 40 were given 3 capsules of 1.8g fish oil a day, with 864mg of EPA + DHA for seven weeks. The remaining 37 received no supplementation and acted as controls.

The researchers found that there was a significant increase in plasma EPA, DHA, and DPA in both the krill oil and fish oil groups compared to the control group, and no significant differences were seen between the fish oil and the krill oil groups.

In addition, the team did not observe any statistically significant differences in changes in any of the serum lipids or the markers of oxidative stress and inflammation between the study groups.

"This study confirms that a lower dose of EPA and DHA is required when taking krill oil phospholipids, compared to the triglyceride form of omega-3," according to Hogne Vik, one of the study authors.

"In addition to improving blood levels of these essential omega-3 fatty acids, a statistically significant improvement of the HDL-cholesterol/TG ratio was demonstrated, again showing the health benefits of Superba."


Lipids 2010-11-02

Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at a lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers.

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krill oil vs fish oil

Posted by Erik-Alexander Richter,

It is always difficult to set up the perfect test. Most fish oil sold has only 12% DHA and 18% EPA. Compared to Krill Oil, that's way less, but also at a fraction of the price. Phospholipids will always absorp better. I think it doesn't make much of a difference, but patients rather have 4 small capsules of krill oil vs 6 large capsules of fish oil. If you would take a highly concentrated fish oil it would be more equal, but than the price would go up significantly. It would be the same as krill I guess. But I agree with J. Frantz that we have to be careful what to write since the press loves negative publicity about functional supplements. I do see a lot of misunderstanding with many doctors and therapists, simply because they cannot read the complicated labels. Some recommend to take 3 grams of omega-3, which would be 10 grams of "regular" fish oil. They always forget to mention that it takes lots of antioxidants to avoid the fish oil to turn rancid. The extra vitamin E in the capsule is only enough to protect the oil within the capsule. I have to say, there is a big advantage for the expensive krill oil, due to the high amount of astaxanthin; many times stronger than any type of vitamin E

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krill better than fish oil again

Posted by j frantz,

I agree with the comment above and…

Gee lets see is there any company sponsorship in this one. Funny how all the krill studies are done in Canada or Scandinavia the home bases of the krill manufacturers. Funny how there is a continuous anti-fish oil campaign by people who market this product when they could not give krill way 10 years ago except as fish food. Funny how people claim its clean and biorenewable when Nat Geo has reported the huge drop in krill populations affecting the whales, Whole Foods has removed it from their shelves krill plants are closing to prevent environmental damage and studies in Whales penguins and other main users of krill as a food source show toxic accumulation of PBC's dioxins etc. Fish oil has 40 years of study real population based data on things like telomere length, all the major disease of aging etc. that krill will never have since it is not human food and is not scrutinized for purity and content in a way that is never done for krill.
I have no doubt that krill is an effective source of Omega 3 but I have no doubt it is not “better than fish oil”. I can hardly wait to see how the media misrepresents this study!

The final conclusion which I hope will be noted by anyone reporting on this is the actual conclusion of the study:
“In addition, the team did not observe any statistically significant differences in changes in any of the serum lipids or the markers of oxidative stress and inflammation between the study groups.”

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Fish oil quality questioned

Posted by Matti Tolonen,

It may well be that krill oil increases plasma omega-3 levels faster and more than traditional triglyceride type fish oil. What about the effect on red blood cell omega-3 index?

According to my calculations, the fish oil used in this comparison contained only 48% omega-3. I wonder, why was this type of fish oil elected for comparison? To me it resembles the old trick used by Big Pharma when they launch a new medicine: It is compared to a weak existing one to show better efficacy.

It would be interesting to see krill oil compared to ethylesterized, say 90%, fish oil (1 capsule contains 850mg EPA+DHA). Cardiologists now recommend 1 g highly purified ethyl esterized omega-3 for heart conditions. View for instance Professor Martin R. Cowie´s recent review in European Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine

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