KRILL OIL VERSUS FISH OIL; THE PROS AND CONS OF THE OMEGA 3 CHAMPS
The popularity of health supplements has been on the rise since the late 1970’s as exercise and nutrition became more ingrained in popular culture.
Fish oil supplements began to make an impact in the 1980’s after it was reported that the omega 3 fatty acids they contained might help prevent high blood pressure and heart attacks.
These acids play a critical role in growth, cell development and brain function, as well as reducing the risks of heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Studies have determined that they can be effective as a treatment for a host of ailments.
They have been shown to provide relief for everything from wrinkles, psoriasis and acne to high cholesterol, menstrual cramps and Crohn’s disease and more.
With the widespread acceptance of the benefits to be found in these products, people inevitably began to wonder which one is a better supplier of omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids (a.k.a. polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA’s) are considered essential fatty acids, but the human body does not produce them, they have to be consumed in foods such as nut oils, fish, algae and krill.
Krill are tiny shrimplike crustaceans that are integral to the marine ecosystem. These two inch long creatures breed in the billions and form the staple food source for hundreds of marine animals and birds, particularly in the Arctic and Antarctic oceans.
Scientific research estimates that during the short Antarctic summer months when krill productivity is at its highest, anywhere from 125 million to 6 billion tons of densely packed swarms will inhabit these incredibly fertile waters.
Although they are very similar, it’s the essential differences between krill oil and fish oil that makes the two products so distinct.
Both fish oil and krill oil contain the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), but in different forms.
Fish oil contains its omega 3 fatty acids in a triglyceride form. The main purpose of triglycerides is for long term energy storage, as the fatty acid chains can store a great deal of energy.
Part of this triglyceride chain is not absorbed by the body and is discarded during digestion.
Simply put, this means that fish oil first needs to be broken down and its omega 3 fatty acids separated before they can be absorbed into the body.
Krill oil on the other hand, contains its omega 3 fatty acids in a phospholipid form, which is the same form as the fats in human cells.
Phospholipid fatty acids do not need to be separated and can be more immediately absorbed by the body
Therefore krill oil does not need to be broken down before being absorbed, and its benefits can be more quickly experienced.
Krill also contain an extremely potent antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is the pigment that gives the crustacean its rosy, pink color; this substance is not present in fish oil.
As a result, krill oil is up to 50 times more powerful an antioxidant than fish oil.
One of the most common and unpleasant after effects of fish oil supplements are what people have termed ‘ fish breath’ or ‘ fish burps; ’ the unmistakable fish odor that affects user’s breath.
In a product made exclusively from fish, it’s hard to imagine how this could be avoided.
It is one of the main detractions people list about fish oil supplement consumption however, and for some, it’s simply too unpleasant as a side effect to continue using the product.
Krill oil however, does not contain any fish, therefore it cannot produce any ‘ fishy’ taste or smell, and will not produce fish burps.
This is one of the most attractive elements of the product, and one consistently cited by those who have used both fish oil krill oil as being an immensely popular attribute.
One of the most serious concerns people have expressed about fish oil is the purity of the product.
Fish, as part of the food chain, eat a large variety of substances which may be exposed to contaminants consumed by their food source.
This could be anything from natural diseases to multiple forms of human generated pollutants and toxins including such lethal substances as Mercury.
Krill by comparison, are near the very bottom of the marine food chain, and eat only one thing; phytoplankton. These are microscopic single celled plants that live near the ocean surface sustained by photosynthesis.
In this way, the purity of krill oil being free of contaminants derived from its food source is virtually 100%, giving it a major advantage over fish oil.
Another serious concern about fish oil is its freshness; fish products including fish oil have a finite shelf life and can grow rancid quite quickly. The is the result of oxidation (the interaction between oxygen and substances it comes in contact with) that renders the product useless.
Krill oil can retain it freshness far longer than fish oil, due to its high concentrations of astaxanthin; the antioxidant effects of this substance help to keep krill oil from degrading.
Many scientific studies have proven that krill oil is more effective than fish oil in treating a host of health issues, including;
– Improving and maintaining cardiovascular health
– Maintaining healthy blood pressure
– Balancing blood sugar levels
– Improving cognitive function
– Maintaining strong bones
– Lowering bad cholesterol (LDL levels)
– Increasing good cholesterol (HDL levels)
– Maintaining healthy pain-free joints
– Improving symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
– Relieving inflammation
With such a diverse ability to deal with so many ailments, and with so many benefits which are lacking in fish oil, a direct comparison between the products gives krill oil multiple advantages that sets it apart and continues to make it one of the most popular and effectives supplements available today.