Krill are shrimp-like crustaceans that are a dietary staple for whales, small fish, and seabirds. Krill exist in large numbers and are an integral part of the aquatic food chain. Krill fishing has increased exponentially in recent years due to supplement use, and many environmental groups have voiced concerns about the potential impact of this. For these reasons the fishing of krill has been banned on the West Coast of the US.
Krill vs. Sardines and Anchovies
Fish oils are predominantly produced from ecological and sustainable sardines and anchovies, currently in abundant supply and fished well below mandated limits.
Krill oil generally provides 7-24% EPA and DHA. Fish oil naturally contains about 30% EPA and DHA.
Krill contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which makes up 0.2% of the oil by weight. This percentage is not sufficient to offset krill’s rapid decomposition, which takes about 2-3 hours. This makes production of the krill oil unreliable.
Fish oil, predominantly produced from anchovies and sardines, has a significant longer interval of decline, about 48-72 hours, allowing for ample time to process the fish into fish oil with the lowest oxidative stress.
Over 8,000 clinical studies have been completed with fish oil from anchovies and sardines. The marketing of krill oil has included claims about being faster absorbed, and more powerful than fish oil. However, an agreement has since been made to stop advertising these claims as they have been found to be unsubstantiated. Additionally, a review of the literature shows no evidence or supportive studies for these claims.
Due to the high cost of the raw material, it is not uncommon to mix krill oil with fish oil, where astaxanthin and phospholipids can also be added to mimic 100% krill oil.
Krill is not a magic pill
The cost of krill on the environment, and on your pocket book, just doesn’t add up.
- The potential for oxidation from the time the krill is caught to the type of encapsulation often used seems high.
- The amount of capsules you have to swallow of krill to get a typical recommended dose of omega-3 tends to be much higher than fish oil.
- The astaxanthin is either found in ineffective amounts, or added to the final product. Taking a concentrated EPA/DHA fish oil and a separate axtaxanthin supplement would give you higher doses of everything in 2-3 softgels and would again cost you less.
Phospholipids, astaxanthin, and omega-3, are all amazing and are all found in other places besides krill. Krill is not a magic pill.
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