Watch out fish oil! There’s a new omega-3 supplement in town that delivers its disease-fighting magic more efficiently—without fishy burps. Called krill oil and made from tiny, shrimplike creatures that live primarily in the Antarctic Ocean, the supplement transports omega-3s in phospholipids, which are easily recognized and absorbed by your body. By contrast, the omega- 3s in fish oil are transported via triglycerides which take longer to break down and circulate before the fatty acids can take effect. “Krill oil merges directly with your cells, so your body gobbles it up and puts it right where it needs it,” says Luke Bucci, Ph.D., vice president of research for Schiff Nutrition International, a maker of krill oil supplements.
SUPER ANTIOXIDANT. Both fish oil and krill oil contain two blockbuster omega-3 fatty acids—DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)—which have been shown in fish-oil studies to reduce risk of heart disease, soothe inflammation caused by arthritis, and alleviate symptoms of depression. But krill oil also contains a powerful, bright-red antioxidant called astaxanthin. Used by plants to stave off potentially dangerous light and oxygen molecules, astaxanthin protects human cells from carcinogens, says Parris Kidd, Ph.D., a cell biologist and independent lipid (fat) researcher in Grass Valley, Calif.
WHAT IT HELPS. A double-blind study published in 2004 in Alternative Medicine Review found that 1,000 mg of krill oil outperformed 3,000 mg of fish oil for lowering cholesterol. When it comes to premenstrual symptoms, a 2003 Canadian study indicated that krill oil trumps fish oil for quelling mood swings and soothing breast tenderness.
Harvesting krill may one day endanger marine animals like penguins and whales that rely on krill as their primary food source, say some experts. Proponents argue that measures are in place to ensure krill’s sustainability, and that just a small percentage of current krill quotas are being harvested.
ASK QUESTIONS. Call supplement makers and ask them how they catch krill and how much they harvest, says Scott Wallace, fi sheries analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation, a Canadian environmental watchdog organization. A responsible company should be following scientifi cally based harvesting recommendations—and that information should be listed on their website, he says.
VISIT THEIR WEBSITE. Reputable companies should include photos of their fishing gear on their website (they should use modified nets to prevent larger animals from being caught) and work with independent observers who monitor their catch.