Krill Oil Has Similar Health Benefits to Fish Oil

A recent study in Norway compared the beneficial effects of krill oil and fish oil. The researchers compared the levels of lipids and markers of oxidative stress in groups of subjects who consumed krill and fish oils. A control group that did not consume any supplements was also included in the study. The primary finding of this study was that plasma concentrations of various polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) increased significantly in both the krill oil and fish oil groups compared with the control group following daily supplementation for seven weeks.

Since fish oils are a very rich source of omega-3 long-chain PUFAs which reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Important PUFAs present in fish oil are EPA and DHA, which are able to increase the level of good cholesterol, i.e. high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Since fish resources are limited, research in recent years has focused on identifying alternative sources of PUFAs. There is very high quantity of krill in the Antarctic, which could be used as an alternative source of PUFAs. This study was undertaken to investigate whether krill oil also has beneficial effects similar to fish oil.

* The study included 113 subjects who had normal or slightly increased levels of cholesterol, but were comparable in terms of weight,
height, BMI, gender, and age at baseline. They were divided into three groups.
* The participants of the first group were given 3 g krill oil per day (containing 423 mg of EPA and DHA). The second group received 1.8 g of fish oil (containing 288 mg of EPA and DHA). The third group did not receive any supplementation.
* This supplementation was given for a period of seven weeks.
* Before the start of the experiment and after completion of seven weeks of intervention, blood samples were collected from all the participants. The tests measured the levels of various fatty acids, lipids, and other measurements of oxidative stress and inflammation.

* Plasma levels of EPA and DHA, which help curb heart disease, increased significantly from baseline to the end of the study in both oil groups, but not in the control group.
* Variations in levels of various lipids were not statistically significant. However, there was a slight increase in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol among subjects who consumed fish oil and an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol/triglyceride ratio in those who consumed krill oil.
* No significant changes were seen in levels of a-tocopherol, inflammation markers, and F2 isoprostanes, which are markers of oxidative stress and inflammation.

This study has proved that krill oil is as effective as fish oil in preventing cardiovascular diseases. The important fact to be noted is that the elevation of PUFAs in the krill oil group was found to be higher despite the oil being consumed in small quantities. This indicates that the PUFAs present in krill oil are more easily absorbed. This is because in krill oil, PUFAs are present in the phospholipid form while in fish oil, they are in the triglyceride form. Elevated levels of HDL in the krill oil group indicate that this oil is more beneficial than fish oil. Except for a single incidence of rash, no adverse effects were observed with the use of krill oil. Thus, this oil can be considered a safe alternative to fish oil.

For More Information:
Beneficial Effects of Krill Oil are Similar to Those of Fish Oil
Publication Journal: Lipids, November 2010
By Stine M Ulven; Bente Kirkhus; Akershus University College, Lillestrom, Norway

      *FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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