Clearly, you surf the web looking for health info.
You’ve probably seen this:
And you’ve probably seen these claims about krill oil:
- 48X better than fish oil
- 3X better than fish oil
- Get the same benefits with one-fifth the dose as fish oil
Is someone just making this stuff up?
What’s the truth behind Krill Oil?
Krill oil is indeed better than fish oil when it comes to absorption of Omega-3 into your body.
After all, it’s the Omega-3 you’re after!
Krill Oil about 1.6 times better than fish oil.
Not 48. Not 3. Not 5. Just about one and a half times better.
There are three scientific studies that all say the same thing about krill oil’s superiority – it’s about 1.6X better than fish oil.
Scientists repeat experiments to prove that the results from the first test was not a fluke. Here, three different groups independently found the same thing. (There are a couple of other studies that compared fish oil and krill oil. But they were poorly designed and less flattering to krill oil.)
Clever Marketing: where the ’48X Better than Fish Oil’ claim came from?
That came from a comparison of the oil’s antioxidant capacity (ORAC). Krill oil has a few antioxidants like astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is what makes it red. It’s also what makes salmon so colorful.
Fish oil has, well, hardly any antioxidants.
Saying krill oil is 48X better than fish oil is like saying ‘Milk is 14X better than Orange Juice.’
How? Because milk has 14 times more calcium. True. But you don’t drink orange juice for the calcium! Orange juice is a lousy source of calcium.
But the comparison sure makes milk look good!
Similarly, krill oil has an ORAC value of about 300.
Wild blueberries are around 10,000.
So are blueberries 33X better than Krill oil? And 1,584 times better than fish oil? C’mon! (Hope blueberry farmers aren’t reading this!)
How ’bout the ’3X Better’ claim?
The ’3X Better Than Fish Oil’ claim relates to something called C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein found in the blood, used as a measure of general inflammation. Due to the antioxidants in krill oil, the ’3X Better’ claim is plausible.
Study #1: Krill oil is 1.6X Better
- NO DIFFERENCE between krill oil and fish oil for blood lipids (triglcyerides and cholesterol etc.)
- NO DIFFERENCE between krill oil and fish oil for oxidative stress
- NO DIFFERENCE between krill oil and fish oil for inflammation
However, they found that 543 mg of Omega-3 from Krill oil was equivalent to 864 mg of Omega-3 from fish oil.
In other words, less krill oil was required to produce the same benefit.
(My simple math: 864 divided by 543 = 1.6)
Study #2: Krill oil is 1.6X Better
This study only lasted 3 days and did not include many subjects, but still, they reproduced very similar results (using area under curve or AUC method.)
Everyone in this study took 1,680 mg of Omega-3 from either krill oil or fish oil.
It took 14 capsules of krill oil to get 1,680 mg of Omega-3 and just 4 fish oil pills to provide the same amount of Omega-3.
Result: They also found that Omega-3 krill oil was absorbed 1.68 times better than fish oil.
Study #3: Krill Oil is 1.5X Better
This study was not published, but was presented at a meeting in Las Vegas in 2009 by the makes of NKO Krill oil.
They measured Omega-3 in cell membranes after 8 weeks of taking fish oil or krill oil.
Result: They found that the people who took krill oil had 1.5 times more Omega-3 in their cell membranes than those who took fish oil.
Source: Evaluation of Omega-3 Bioavailability & Steady State Assessment of Neptune Krill Oil Compared to Established Omega-3 Formulations. Presented at SSW 2009.
Why is krill oil better absorbed?
Krill oil is better absorbed because of HOW the Omega-3 molecules are carried. In krill oil, the Omega-3 are attached to phospholipid (PL) molecules. PL is easily recognized by human digestive system and easily incorporated into cell membranes. It’s less work for the body.
Omega-3 in fish oil have to go through an additional step – the body had to break it down before it can be absorbed. It’s a little less efficient, but still works like a charm.
What about Phospholipids?
Yes, there’s that – phosphoplipids. They are very good for you. They have their own unique benefits, especially for the brain. Eggs and soybeans are good sources of phospholipids. Add krill oil to the list.
It’s entirely possible that some of the benefits that you hear attributed to krill oil comes from the phospholipids and not the Omega-3. More research is needed in this area.
OK – so krill oil is better. It’s scientifically proven. No what?
Should you buy Krill oil?
In the next blog, we’ll see if Krill oil is a good value. We’ll find out if you’re being taken to the cleaners.
In the meantime…it may be little. It may be red. But it’s not 48X better than fish oil.
Previous blogs about Krill Oil:
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About the Author: Vin Kutty is OmegaVia’s Scientific Advisor and Chief Blogger. He is a nutritionist, author, and Omega-3 expert with over 20 years of experience. Email him.