Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil – Which is Better for Your Body?
The benefits of consuming seafood have been known for quite a while, but not everyone looks forward to a big plate of fish on the dinner table. That may be why fish oil and krill oil supplements have become so popular. These nutritional supplements promise all the benefits of a delicious seafood dinner, without the preparation or the expense.
Both fish oil and krill oil supplements contain plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids known as DHA and EPA, but there are some critical differences. For one thing, krill oil typically contains more EPA, which has been linked to a number of important health benefits. In addition, the Omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are linked to antioxidants and phospholipids. These substances have been shown to be more effective at fighting high levels of cholesterol.
There have been a number of recent studies comparing the health benefits of taking fish oil vs. the benefits of krill oil. One notable clinical study took place in Norway and Sweden in January of 2011, and was subsequently published in the journal Lipids. The study lasted for seven weeks, and it analyzed data from 113 volunteers. Blood tests conducted during that period found that blood levels of both DHA and EPA increased significantly in men and women who took fish oil or krill oil. Those in the control group did not experience this marked increase in EPA and DHA levels. This suggests that the Omega-3 fatty acids in both fish oil and krill oil are readily accessible to the body through nutritional supplements.
Another recent study suggests that krill oil might be better than fish oil in treating the symptoms of arthritis. The ingredients in krill oil have been shown to have a marked anti-inflammatory effect, and that can be very valuable for arthritis sufferers. A clinical trail conducted at the University Health Network in Toronto found that krill oil reduced arthritis pain far more than the placebo. The study also found that C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were reduced by more than 30 percent. Since CRP levels play a role in arthritis pain, there is reason to hope that krill oil can help those who suffer from this common chronic condition.
It is important to note that clinical studies of the effectives of krill oil are still underway, and many of the results so far have been inconclusive. While studies have shown that taking krill oil supplements can be effective at reducing cholesterol levels in the blood and relieving arthritis pain, many nutritionists feel that people can achieve the same results simply by making seafood a regular part of their diets.
If you love fatty fish like Alaskan salmon or even sardines, you are probably getting plenty of DHA and EPA in your diet already. If you avoid fish like the plague, supplementing your otherwise healthy diet with krill oil or fish oil could be a smart move.
If you suffer from arthritis, krill oil might offer more protective benefits. If high cholesterol is the issue, fish oil and krill oil supplements can both be very effective. Keep in mind, however, that no nutritional supplement is a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet.
The Health Benefits of Krill Oil
There has been a lot of talk lately about the health benefits of krill oil, but it is important to separate the fact from fiction. The benefits of fish oil have been well established, but even that older therapy still has its controversies. The history of krill oil as therapy and a dietary supplement is shorter, so it is even more important to assess its effects – and its possible risks – objectively and scientifically.
There is certainly reason to think that krill oil would have some healthy effects on the body. As with cold-water fish, the tiny crustaceans known as krill are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Those fatty acids have been shown to have a protective impact on the heart, and that raises the hope that krill oil might be able to prevent heart attacks and long-term heart disease.
What Do the Studies Say?
Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are essential in studying any nutritional supplement, including krill oil. In one such study, 120 individuals with high cholesterol received either fish oil, krill oil or a placebo for three months. The results showed that krill oil, given in dosages that ranged from 1-3 grams per day based on body mass was more effective at lowering cholesterol than fish oil at a dosage of 3 grams per day. That same study also found that krill oil was effective at reducing blood sugar levels.
It is important to note, however, that not every study found these same positive effects on blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. A subsequent clinical trial of 113 individuals with normal or slightly elevated cholesterol levels found no difference in cholesterol levels between krill oil and a placebo.
That study gave participants either 3 grams of krill oil, 1.8 grams of fish oil or a placebo every day for a period of 7 weeks. Some people have suggested that krill oil is most effective in treating very high levels of cholesterol, and that its therapeutic effects may not extend to those with normal or slightly elevated cholesterol levels.
Safety Issues of Krill Oil
One thing krill oil has going for it is its relative safety. While many pharmaceutical medications have serious side effects, so far krill oil appears to be very safe for daily use. In past studies of the efficacy of krill oil, very few side effects were found, and those side effects tended to be very mild.
Some study participants reported occasional digestive issues like stomach upset when taking krill oil, but no serious gastrointestinal issues were noted. This is consistent with what people taking krill oil on their own have reported.
The bottom line is that krill oil appears to be effective at lowering cholesterol levels in those with moderate to severe cholesterol problems. Those with lower levels of cholesterol may not see those same benefits, but the fact that krill oil is very safe can make it a safer alternative to traditional cholesterol medications.
As with any nutritional supplement, those thinking about krill oil should consult their physicians before starting. While krill oil is generally safe, those with bleeding disorders or liver problems could be at risk. Talking with your doctor before starting any medication is an important way to safeguard your health.