Krill Oil: The Essential Omega-3 Powerhouse
Krill are crustaceans―like shrimp, but smaller―that contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), along with other phospholipids (fatty molecules that are major constituents of all cells). These fats have been found to support cognitive health, cardiovascular and heart health and may aid in maintaining healthy joints. †
Why we need Omega-3s
It is recommended that we consume about two portions of fatty fish (fish such as salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines) per week to ensure we receive the omega-3s needed for maintaining peak health. The reason Omega-3s are essential is that they cannot be produced by the body and must be consumed. And the reason they must be consumed is that they are a major constituent of all cell membranes in the body and they have an effect on receptors in our cells. Omega 3s are precursors to hormones that “regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation” (R). And, unlike the fats we can make on our own, they have the ability to bind to receptors involved in the regulation of certain genes. †
The strongest evidence for the need to consume omega-3s comes from the nature of these fats to support the fight against heart disease. Omega-3 intake appears to help maintain steady heart rhythm by significantly reducing membrane electrical excitability of the cardiac myocyte (R). These fatty acids also may aid in the reduction of atrial fibrillation risks (R, R).Omega-3 fats also lower blood pressure, improves blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lower triglycerides (R, R, R). †
While omega-3s demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects, krill oil, like salmon, contains the red color producing carotenoid, astaxanthin. Research suggests that astaxanthin acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecule (R). There are data that also suggests that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of astaxanthin might act as a therapeutic agent for cardiovascular disease (R). †
Studies have shown that omega-3s may aid in cognitive support, suggesting that it has nootropic effects. When it comes to supplementation of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA, mood also seems to improve (R). In terms of improving cognition, one study showed that those who consume fish and fish products demonstrated better cognitive performance than those who had a low fish diet, suggesting the nootropic effects are dose dependent (R). There is also evidence that supports that the intake of EPA and DHA prevents the loss of white matter in the brain, preventing memory loss as a result (R). In elderly patients, supplementation of krill oil demonstrated the ability to enhance working memory (R).†
Krill oil was found to be more effective in terms of showing increases in cognitive effects because it contains a higher percentage of phosphatidylcholine (a neurotransmitter precursor and a phospholipid carrier of DHA that increases fatty acid uptake) than other foods. DHA’s anti-inflammatory properties may also contribute to the improvement of memory function (R). When children were given EPA and DHA that were incorporated into phosphatidylcholine, they demonstrated higher levels of sustained attention (R). †
The intake of omega-3s have also demonstrated the ability to contribute to neuronal growth and brain tissue maintenance and can also lessen the secondary effects of brain trauma (R, R). For anyone at risk for brain trauma, like fighters or football players, it is important to supplement with omega-3s high in DHA as data suggests it is important for preventing neuronal damage. In experiments with rats with traumatic brain injury, DHA supplementation showed an improvement of motor movements and coordination. The data suggest that supplementation of omega-3s in humans will illicit similar effects (R). †
Supplementation of omega-3s also appears to help in the aid of stress prevention (R). In a study with individuals suffering from chronic stress, omega-3 seemed to lower stress by reducing cortisol levels (R) †
Why Krill oil Instead of Fish oil?
The problem with fish is that they have longer lifespans and, as such, accumulate high levels of mercury and other toxins over time from their environment and from all of the prey beneath them on the food chain. Krill, on the other hand, live much shorter lifespans and accumulate less toxins. It also helps that they are typically harvested from the arctic oceans, which are less polluted than the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. As stated earlier, krill oil contains higher levels of phosphatidylcholine, which means it is better absorbed by cells than fish oil.
Looking to add a non-GMO Omega-3 to your diet that will help maintain proper cognitive function and brain health, support heart function, and promote better joint health? Zenko Nutrition now has high quality, Arctic Zenko: Krill Oil in stock now!†
* Disclaimer: Fish & Krill oils can reduce blood clotting and may interfere with blood-thinning medications. As with all supplements, please consult your doctor before taking this product.
† This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
About the Author: Dennis Thompson is the President of Zenko Nutrition. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Biology and has more than 2 years of experience working in a cGMP Pharmaceutical testing laboratory.