And that animal research was preceded by ample human and lab research indicating that omega-3s help maintain healthy metabolic health.
This is an important thing to know, since unhealthy metabolisms drive obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. For more on this apparent benefit of omega-3s, “Omega-6 Fats Drive Obesity; Omega-3s Help”
Krill oil’s omega-3s: Better than the omega-3s in fish oil?
Krill are very tiny shrimp that swarm in cold waters worldwide … especially the Antarctic Ocean.
Over the past few years, krill oil became a sought-after supplement, thanks to claims that its omega-3s are even healthier than the omega-3s in fish.
When krill oil first hit the market, its makers asserted – without very much evidence – that its omega-3s would be better absorbed and exert superior health effects.
Those claims flowed from the fact that the omega-3s in krill oil come in the same phospholipid (PL) form of the omega-3s in our cell membranes.
The point – which seemed plausible – was that because krill oil’s omega-3s come in PL form, we would more quickly and easily absorb them into our cell membranes.
Which omega-3 form is better?
The answer to this question remains unclear.
However, the preliminary evidence leans pretty heavily in favor of PL-form omega-3s like those found in krill oil (and our own cell membranes).
The omega-3s in fish and unrefined fish oils – such as our virgin Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil – come in triglyceride (TG) form, which our bodies convert to PL form before placing them in our cell membranes.
(Our chemically refined High-Potency Omega-3 Therapy Oil – which comes from wild Alaskan pollock – also features TG-form omega-3s.)
The makers of standard fish oils chemically convert their TG-form omega-3s into an “ethyl ester” (EE) form during the molecular distillation process used to isolate fish oil’s fatty acids from any contaminants. (This conversion also allows manufacturers to pack more omega-3s into each capsule.)
A majority of clinical research suggests that TG-form omega-3s are absorbed better than EE-form omega-3s, and may provide a slight edge in terms of specific health effects (see “Natural Omega-3s Seen Superior to Standard Supplements”).
Even though fish and people contain only very small amounts of EE-form omega-3s, most medical research has employed standard, chemically refined fish oils that primarily provide EE-form omega-3s.
Despite bogus Internet claims that fish oils containing EE form omega-3s are inferior or unhealthful because they melt Styrofoam, EE-form omega-3s are natural and safe … though not quite as well-absorbed as the TG or PL forms.
Fish oils providing EE-form omega-3s dissolve Styrofoam largely because both substances are oil-soluble, and because the chemical polarities of EE omega-3s and Styrofoam are extremely similar.
In fact, EE-form omega-3s have been used safely in hundreds of animal and clinical studies, and judged safe by regulatory agencies worldwide.
These claims have largely been borne out by subsequent research, most of which suggests that PL-form omega-3s in krill oil are absorbed better.
Krill oil’s PL-form omega-3s also tend to produce changes to people’s blood cholesterol and triglyceride profiles even healthier than those seen with fish oil containing EE or TG form omega-3s … and they do it at lower omega-3 doses (Ulven SM et al. 2010).
(Compared with fish oils, krill oil also contain more omega-3s in the form of free fatty acids, which may explain some of the absorption and apparent health advantages seen in preliminary studies.)
Enough research now exists to persuade us that krill oil’s PL-form omega-3s really do offer advantages (see our sidebar, “Which omega-3 form is better?”).
In fact, Vital Choice brand Wild Antarctic Krill Oil now enjoys positive evidence from a growing body of product-specific lab and clinical research.
The latest study using the specific, MSC-certified sustainable krill oil in our capsules concerns its effects on key aspects of human metabolism and affect appetite and heart health.
Krill oil aided people’s artery health and appetite-control system
The new pilot study was performed at two academic research sites in Italy, and at the private Momentum Pharma Services lab in Germany (Berge K et al. 2013).
This small clinical trial tested the effects of powdered krill oil in obese people, and was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Lipids in Health and Disease.
Like our liquid krill oil, the powdered form features the same phospholipid-form omega-3 fatty acids. The researchers recruited 11 obese men, who took krill oil powder daily for 24 weeks.
Then they measured the volunteers’ blood levels of fats … and hormone-like metabolism-control agents called endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids are a group of fats (lipids) that modulate activities of the nervous system controlling a variety of processes … including appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.
Marijuana contains cannabinoids similar or identical to the endocannabinoids found in the human nervous system … hence the “munchies” most people get from smoking pot.
Endocannabinoid levels typically test out of whack in overweight people … an imbalance that promotes and sustains obesity.
So the effects of krill oil in this small but lengthy (six-month) trial are encouraging:
- Participants’ blood triglyceride levels – which, when too high, harm heart and metabolic health – dropped by a healthful 21 percent.
- Levels of a key endocannabinoid called anandamide – which is typically too high in obese people – fell by 84 percent by the end of the trial.
- There were significant, beneficial drops in the volunteers’ waist/hip ratios and gains in muscle mass around areas of visceral fat. (Visceral or “deep” fat wraps around internal organs and raises the risks of diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.)
Importantly, these findings echo those of earlier research (Piscitelli F et al. 2011), which adds credibility.
One of the co-authors, Vincenzo Di Marzo, PhD, commented on the study’s implications:
“These results confirm previous findings with krill oil, demonstrating a reduction of an overactive endocannabinoid system in obese subjects. Krill oil and krill powder could potentially both be useful in ameliorating metabolic syndrome.”
Stay tuned for more reports on research using our krill oil, including studies on brain and heart health.
- Aker BioMarine (AB). First Krill Powder Study Benefits Obese Subjects, June 13, 2013. Accessed at http://www.akerbiomarine.com/news.cfm?path=143,534&id=3-1493
- Batetta B, Griinari M, Carta G, Murru E, Ligresti A, Cordeddu L, Giordano E, Sanna F, Bisogno T, Uda S, Collu M, Bruheim I, Di Marzo V, Banni S. Endocannabinoids may mediate the ability of (n-3) fatty acids to reduce ectopic fat and inflammatory mediators in obese Zucker rats. J Nutr. 2009 Aug;139(8):1495-501. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.104844. Epub 2009 Jun 23
- Berge K, Piscitelli F, Hoem N, Silvestri C, Meyer I, Banni S, Di Marzo V. Chronic treatment with krill powder reduces plasma triglyceride and anandamide levels in mildly obese men. Lipids Health Dis. 2013 May 27;12:78. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-12-78.
- Maki KC, Reeves MS, Farmer M, Griinari M, Berge K, Vik H, Hubacher R, Rains TM. Krill oil supplementation increases plasma concentrations of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in overweight and obese men and women. Nutr Res. 2009 Sep;29(9):609-15. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2009.09.004.
- Piscitelli F, Carta G, Bisogno T, Murru E, Cordeddu L, Berge K, Tandy S, Cohn JS, Griinari M, Banni S, Di Marzo V. Effect of dietary krill oil supplementation on the endocannabinoidome of metabolically relevant tissues from high-fat-fed mice. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Jul 13;8(1):51. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-51.
- Rossmeisl M, Jilkova ZM, Kuda O, Jelenik T, Medrikova D, Stankova B, Kristinsson B, Haraldsson GG, Svensen H, Stoknes I, Sjövall P, Magnusson Y, Balvers MG, Verhoeckx KC, Tvrzicka E, Bryhn M, Kopecky J. Metabolic effects of n-3 PUFA as phospholipids are superior to triglycerides in mice fed a high-fat diet: possible role of endocannabinoids. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38834. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038834. Epub 2012 Jun 11.
- Schuchardt JP, Schneider I, Meyer H, Neubronner J, von Schacky C, Hahn A. Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations--a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs. krill oil. Lipids Health Dis. 2011 Aug 22;10:145. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-10-145.
- Ulven SM, Kirkhus B, Lamglait A, Basu S, Elind E, Haider T, Berge K, Vik H, Pedersen JI. Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers. Lipids. 2011 Jan;46(1):37-46. doi: 10.1007/s11745-010-3490-4. Epub 2010 Nov 2.