Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of deaths globally, with an estimated 18 million people dying from CVD every year1. Fortunately, up to 80% of CVDs are preventable with positive lifestyle and behavioral habits, and from a nutritional standpoint, omega-3 fatty acids are well known to play an important role.
Omega-3s, some of the most researched molecules in scientific history, are important in the heart health market. Numerous studies throughout the years showcase the benefits of omega-3 for thousands of heart health patients, and some of these studies are behind the launch of some of the most popular prescription-based heart health products. Krill oil is a major player when it comes to heart health and new research further validates decades worth of clinical studies in this area.
New study shows krill oil significantly reduces triglyceride levels in the blood
A new study, recently published in JAMA Network Open by Mozaffarian et al., showed that krill oil significantly reduces triglyceride levels in the blood - an important measure of heart health2. This study is the largest clinical investigation of an omega-3 formulation in this patient group to date.
The publication presents the effects of krill oil supplementation on 520 patients with severely high triglyceride levels in their blood (hypertriglyceridemia). Participants were randomly assigned to receive krill oil capsules or placeboes over the course of the experiment. The patients’ triglyceride levels, plasma omega-3s, and cholesterol levels were measured before, during and after the 26-week duration of the trials. The current publication pools the data from 2 large clinical trials conducted by American and Canadian scientists.
The findings show that patients consuming the krill oil experienced a significant reduction in triglycerides levels (12.7% reduction in 26 weeks) and there was no increase in LDL cholesterol. The krill oil treatment had an even stronger effect in those who also took medication for hypertriglyceridemia (elevated levels of fats in the blood).
“This groundbreaking study proves that krill oil can help lessen the burden cardiovascular disease has on society by helping to improve the health condition of millions of people worldwide and helping to reduce healthcare costs,” says Katina Handeland, Research & Development Director for Human Health and Nutrition, Aker BioMarine ASA. “What’s remarkable about this study, is that significant reductions in triglycerides have been shown at a much lower dose of EPA and DHA (1.2g), compared to other omega-3 studies which have shown similar results at much higher doses.”
Krill oil, a holistic approach to 3 markers of heart health
Multiple studies over the years tell us that krill oil is an effective supplement for reducing cardiovascular risk and improving overall heart health, with consistent evidence of increased Omega-3 Index levels in patients. In fact, previous research shows that krill oil is clinically proven to support the three markers of heart health, better than any other omega-3 source. Krill oil is clinically proven to lower triglycerides levels in blood3. It is also clinically proven to increase the Omega-3 Index; an increase of this Index from 4% to 8% would reduce the risk of fatal coronary heart disease by 30%4. And finally, with krill oil, there is no increase in LDL cholesterol levels2,3.
3 EFSA Heart Health claims from choline and omega-3 fatty acids, found naturally in krill oil
Krill oil is unlike any other heart health supplement. It can be considered a natural multi-nutrient for your heart, delivering a combination of marine phospholipids, omega-3 EPA and DHA, choline and astaxanthin.
“Omega-3 and choline are two heavyweight essential nutrients for heart health, and they support the heart through different mechanisms of action. This is one of the standout reasons to choose krill oil for heart health over other supplements,” says Handeland. “These two nutrients allow for 3 EU approved health claims for heart health under EFSA regulation for the European Market.”
Choline is an essential nutrient vital for many body functions; nerve signaling, liver and muscle functioning to name a few. Our bodies cannot make enough, therefore we must obtain it from our diet. When it comes to heart health, choline acts in two ways to support the heart and the cardiovascular system.
- Choline supports normal homocysteine metabolism5: Choline helps to break down homocysteine in the body, which is a by-product of everyday functioning but if it builds up, it can be damaging to your heart. Homocysteine levels should be kept in check and choline helps to do this naturally.
- Choline supports healthy lipid metabolism5: Choline is a key component for the liver to create lipoproteins which carry fats around the body in the blood safely. Without choline, our liver cannot safely process fats in the blood which can lead to issues in the arteries like plaque buildup, which is not good for the heart.
EPA and DHA are two of the most well known and most important omega-3 fatty acids that we get from marine sources, like fatty fish. They are very well established in scientific literature as being cardioprotective and have an approved Health Claim “EPA & DHA contribute to normal functioning of the heart”6. Research to date demonstrates they can help7:
- Reduce triglyceride levels
- Decrease growth of atherosclerotic plaque
- Improve endothelial cell function in blood vessels
- Modulate inflammation
- Lower blood pressure (slightly)
In fact, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has concluded that an intake of 250 mg EPA and DHA per day is sufficient from both food and/or supplementation8. This amount equates to eating fatty fish about 2 times a week, based on a 150g serving of salmon. For those with health issues surrounding the heart or other metabolic health issues, it is recommended to have a slightly higher intake.
Krill oil is a potent source of both of these nutrients, delivering 250 mg EPA and DHA, and 82,5 mg of choline per daily dose. What’s more, krill oil has been consistently shown to provide similar benefits to heart health as fish oil, yet at a lower dose, due to the phospholipid form of omega-3s found in the product. This combined with choline clearly differentiates krill oil and creates an opportunity for brands looking to stand out and offer their consumers an effective, natural and sustainable way to support their heart health.
Krill oil’s phospholipid advantage provides superior uptake of omega-3 and choline for cellular health
One of the main distinctions about krill oil compared to other supplements is its phospholipid advantage. The phospholipids in krill oil ensure superior transport, delivery and integration of omega-3 EPA and DHA and choline directly into our body’s cells and organs. Although a complex word, the mechanism behind “phospholipids” is actually quite simple.
Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells and each cell is wrapped in a membrane called the phospholipid bilayer. This layer provides structure, enables nutrient uptake, energy production and countless vital functions that form the basis for life.
“Krill oil is naturally rich in phospholipids and when it enters into the body, a seamless delivery and integration of omega-3s and choline directly into the cell’s bilayer takes place,” adds Handeland. “This is called the krill oil phospholipid advantage. It is also sometimes referred to as the ‘highway to cell’ or the direct path that delivers these key nutrients into the places that need them the most. This advantage benefits every cell and organ in your body, especially the heart.”
Take care of your heart with krill oil
In conclusion, krill oil is a great supplement for heart health and beyond. As shown in the science, krill oil has proven benefits within a disease population, but it’s also a superior option for those looking for a holistic approach to heart health care. It’s unique composition and delivery mechanisms make krill oil an uncontested choice. Take care of your heart with krill oil and your heart will love you back.
- World Health Organization, 2021. Cardiovascular disease report. World Heart Federation
- Mozaffarian, D., Maki, K. C., Bays, H. E., Aguilera, F., Gould, G., Hegele, R. A., ... & Alvarez, I. O. (2022). Effectiveness of a Novel ω-3 Krill Oil Agent in Patients With Severe Hypertriglyceridemia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA network open, 5(1), e2141898-e2141898.
- Berge, K., Musa-Veloso, K., Harwood, M., Hoem, N., & Burri, L. (2014). Krill oil supplementation lowers serum triglycerides without increasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults with borderline high or high triglyceride levels. Nutrition research, 34(2), 126-133.
- Harris, W. S., Del Gobbo, L., & Tintle, N. L. (2017). The Omega-3 Index and relative risk for coronary heart disease mortality: Estimation from 10 cohort studies. Atherosclerosis, 262, 51-54.
- EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to choline and contribution to normal lipid metabolism (ID 3186), maintenance of normal liver function (ID 1501), contribution to normal homocysteine metabolism (ID 3090), maintenance of normal neurological function (ID 1502), contribution to normal cognitive function (ID 1502), and brain and neurological development (ID 1503) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 2011;9(4):2056. [23 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2056.
- Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and brain, eye and nerve development (ID 501, 513, 540), maintenance of normal brain function (ID 497, 501, 510, 513, 519, 521, 534, 540, 688, 1323, 1360, 4294), maintenance of normal vision (ID 508, 510, 513, 519, 529, 540, 688, 2905, 4294), maintenance of normal cardiac function (ID 510, 688, 1360), “maternal health; pregnancy and nursing” (ID 514), “to fulfil increased omega-3 fatty acids need during pregnancy” (ID 539), “skin and digestive tract epithelial cells maintenance” (ID 525), enhancement of mood (ID536), “membranes cell structure” (ID4295), “anti-inflammatory action” (ID 4688) and maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations (ID4719) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal 2011;9(4):2078 [30pp.].doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2078.
- Khan, S. U., Lone, A. N., Khan, M. S., Virani, S. S., Blumenthal, R. S., Nasir, K., ... & Bhatt, D. L. (2021). Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. EClinicalMedicine, 38, 100997.
- European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion: Labelling reference intake values for n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The EFSA Journal. 2009; 1176, 1–11.