Calanus oil matches krill and fish oil for Omega-3 Index boosts: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Calanus oil is extracted from the copepods of the same name Calanus finmarchicus. Image © 3dsam79 / Getty Images
Calanus oil is extracted from the copepods of the same name Calanus finmarchicus. Image © 3dsam79 / Getty Images

Related tags omega-3 Fish oil Omega-3 fatty acid Krill oil calanus oil Docosahexaenoic acid Eicosapentaenoic acid Bioavailability

Calanus oil may be equally as effective at increasing the Omega-3 Index as fish oil and krill oil, says a new study that supports the copepod-derived oil as an alternative marine omega-3 source.

Data published in Lipids ​indicated that consumption of around 250 mg per day of EPA + DHA from Calanus oil (CO), fish oil (FO), or krill oil (KO) led to increases in the Omega-3 Index (O3I) of about 1% over 12 weeks.

“Our results show that the long-term effect of CO on the O3I increase is comparable to FO and KO and could serve as a new source marine source for cardioprotective EPA and DHA,” wrote scientists from Leibniz University Hannover in Germany.

Sourced from copepods

Calanus oil is extracted from the copepods of the same name Calanus finmarchicus. ​According to Salma et al. (Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids​, 2016, Vol. 108, pp. 13-21), Calanus finmarchicus​ is “the most abundant crustacean in the North Atlantic Ocean with annual production of several hundred million tonnes.

“The total annual harvest amounts to less than 0.01% of the annual growth in accordance with regulations by Norwegian fisheries management.”

Calanus oil contains the omega-3s EPA and DHA predominantly in the wax ester form (the oil is slightly viscous). The oil also contains astaxanthin, which gives its ruby color.

Wax esters are historically associated with penguin, seal, and whale oil, but are being produced by Norwegian company Zooca (formerly Calanus AS) from C. finmarchicus. ​Zooca/ Calanus AS partly funded the new study.

Study details

The Hannover-based scientists recruited 62 people with an average age of 29 to participate in their randomized parallel group study. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups and asked to consume a daily omega-3 supplement: The Calanus Oil group received four capsules per day providing an EPA + DHA dose of 242 mg; The fish oil group consumer 1 capsule per day for an EPA + DHA dose of 248 mg; and the krill oil group received two capsules per day for an EPA + DHA dose of 286 mg.

The Omega-3 Index of the participants for all three groups at the start of the study was around 5%. After 12 weeks of supplementation, the researchers found similar increases in each group: The Calanus Oil group experienced O3I increases of 1.09%, the fish oil group increased by 1.0%, and the krill oil group by 1.15%.

Commenting independently on the study, noted omega-3s researcher William Harris, PhD, of the Fatty Acid Research Institute, told NutraIngredients-USA: “Importantly, in this study, absorption was not compared to a single acute dose but with a real-life cumulative dosing over 12 weeks. They found virtually the same bioavailability as with the other two oils.

“This study has shown that Calanus oil has the potential to join fish oils and kill oils as another important source of omega-3 fatty acids,” said Dr Harris, who co-developed the Omega-3 Index. “One advantage of harvesting Calanus oil versus fish oil is, like krill oil, the oil comes from a source much further down the marine food chain. This, Calanus oil could be more a sustainable and unpolluted source of omega-3 for use in dietary supplements or aquaculture.”

Source: Lipids
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/lipd.12369
“Equal bioavailability of omega-3 PUFA from Calanus oil, fish oil and krill oil: A 12-week randomized parallel study”
Authors: F. Vosskötter et al.

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