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The Thrill of Krill Oil

The Thrill of Krill Oil

The more I learn about Krill Oil the more excited I get.  After being in the health care business for thirty much of it working directly with ingredients, I must admit to being somewhat jaded when it comes to new ingredients.

The first I heard of a new type of Omega-3 type ingredient on the market my finely honed baloney detector signaled a red alert.  Not another EFA!   How could a new EFA even work, what could really be different?  Well as it turns out it is different, very different.  And in a very good way.  First of all a quick and concise digression on the basic nature of EFAs is in order.  To be technically proper there are two EFAs and only two.  One is called linoleic acid (LA) and is known as Omega-6 and the other is called alpha linolenic acid (ALA) is usually referred to as Omega-3.  One of the really neat things about LA and ALA is that they get turned into things, lots of things, including important substances for the brain and for the heart and ultimately they serve as raw materials for mega-powerful chemicals (called “eicosanoids”) that have a role to play in almost every single physical and biochemical reaction in the body.  Two of these derivative substances which are produced via alpha linolenic acid (Omega-3) are called DHA and EPA.  Thrill of Krill OilAnd they’re very, very important, although they are not essential.  Taking a nice daily dose of DHA and EPA is probably a good idea but certainly not in lieu of ALA, which is only found in a relatively few places, seeds like flax chia and hemp being the most well known sources. Now DHA and EPA, those are typically found in sea creatures.  Until Krill, the only place to get DHA and EPA in a concentrated form was through fish oil or cod liver oil.  (Interesting fact: snake oil contains high amounts of EPA and the old exaggerated claims that have it given it it’s pejorative idiomatic meaning probably derive from hyperbolic claims made for what is in actuality nothing more than a good nutritional supplement).  And, because of the inherent instability of these molecules, fish oil wasn’t stable of nutritional supplements.  There are lots of horror stories of fish oil and cod liver oil samples with elevated levels of free radicals  an indication of rancidity, an oil gone bad.

Enter Krill OI.   As it turns out, these tiny crustaceans have figured out a way to maximize the biochemical properties of DHA and EPA.  It seems like they attach a little molecule called a phospholipid to the DHA/EPA complex and thereby render it somewhat water soluble.  And that makes the DHA and EPA from Krill Oil super effective.  It allows it to partition into both the fatty tissue of the body as well as the watery fluids.  This basically turns the EPA into a biochemical switch hitter.  Just like a baseball player that can hit both right handed and left handed, this DHA/EPA-phospholipid complex that nature has given the lowly Krill makes these important nutritional fats super-versatile.  It means that when you’re taking Krill Oil not only are you getting highly significant fatty acids with their own nutritional benefits; you’re also getting phospholipids which are important for the health and longevity of every single one of the 100 trillion cells in the body and are especially health of the nerve and brain cells and the digestive system.

And there’s more too.  Krill oil contains high amounts of molecules called carotenoids (one called astaxanthin has been recently touted by the Mike Adams the Health Ranger for its skin protecting and anti-sunburn properties) derived from the copious amounts of algae that the tiny crustaceans devour.  These carotenoids not only add to the nutritional benefits of the Krill Oil by supporting skin health, the eyes and cardiac health are beneficiaries too.  And, the astaxanthin provides the Krill Oil with it’s most important property.  It acts to protect the inherently unstable fatty acids helping keep the EPA and DHA more stable for a longer period of time than fish-based oils.  Add to all these features the fact that Krill contains Vitamins E, A and D and you have yourself one amazing nutritional supplement.

The most striking health benefits of Krill Oil involve anti-inflammation.  Omega 3s in general have anti inflammatory properties, but it seems that all of the unusual biochemical compounds found in Krill give this stuff some extra powerful anti inflammatory effects.  A recent study published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that just a 300mg daily dose of Krill Oil  “significantly inhibits inflammation and reduces arthritic symptoms within a short treatment period of 7 and 14 days”.  It’s seems to be especially effective on arthritis pain  And, Krill Oil also has powerful affects on blood fats and sugar.  A number of studies have demonstrated effectiveness on raising HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and on reducing blood sugar levels.  And, most notably, it’s was shown in a study published in the August 2003 edition of Alternative Medicine review to be effective in reducing physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS.

So, if you’re using fish oil capsule now, you might want to consider adding in or even replacing your dose entirely with Krill Oil.  The biochemistry is certainly compelling and the literature is there to support it.   The only company making Krill Oil is Neptune Technologies out of Canada, so any brand you get is going to be pretty much the same stuff.  Look for the cheapest but never at the expense of freshness. 

About the author

Ben Fuchs I'm Ben Fuchs, a nutritional pharmacist from Boulder CO. I specialize in using nutritional supplements where other healthcare practitioners use toxic pharmaceutical drugs. I look at the human body as a healing & regenerating system, designed divinely to heal & renew itself on a moment to moment basis. "Take charge of your biochemistry through foods and supplements, rather than allow toxic prescription drugs to take charge of you."

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