Is Krill oil a better source of omega-3?

should we be using these for supplements?

UPDATE (4/12/2011): Another reason to question harvesting krill for human supplements: penguin populations falling as krill availability decreases.

If you pay attention to nutrition and supplement buzz, you may have seen krill oil being promoted in the past few months.  A recent study tried to make the case that krill oil is superior to measly old fish oil.  Is it true?

Krill are tiny crustaceans, like shrimp, and many larger fish and whales survive on a diet of krill.  They’re essential to the health of marine life, described as powering the Antarctic ecosystem.  Krill oil, the fat that’s extracted from them, is relatively high in omega-3, and some supplement makers are promoting it as somehow better than omega-3 from fish.  This particular study, done with rats, compared the effects of krill oil and fish oil on fat metabolism in the liver.  The krill oil had more pronounced effects at first, inhibiting fat synthesis.  But after 6 weeks of study, there was no difference between the two types of omega-3 supplements.  Somehow this doesn’t make krill oil look so superior to me, but the authors managed to spin the results to make krill oil look superior.

More important to me than fishy research results is this: why are we harvesting krill?  This crustacean is an essential part of a very large ecosystem that’s already under environmental threat.  Don’t the fish and marine mammals need this krill?

When buying omega-3 supplements, the key ingredient to check on the label is not krill or fish sources.  It’s the concentration of biologically active long chain omega-3 fats: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  You find those listed on back of the package, at the bottom of the nutrition facts panel.  Whether you’re buying omega-3 made from fish or krill or algae, the levels of these two key fatty acids will vary, depending on manufacturing practices.  Many varieties have boosted concentrations of these, and will be more expensive.  Cheaper omega-3 supplements will have lower concentrations.  So — krill or fish sourced — before you buy, check the label.

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