OMEGA-3’S Fish Oil versus Krill Oil
Omega-3’s are important. With more than 30,000 published studies focusing on these healthy fats, that’s a given. The most significant omega-3s are EPA and DHA, which are found in fish and krill. The question of a potential superiority between the omega-3 forms is a relatively recent debate—and one that’s easily put to rest. In a nutshell, the form of your omega-3 EPA+DHA isn’t the issue; what matters is the dose and a steady intake. And in the final analysis, the cost is also an important factor to consider.
Omega-3s are available in four different forms. Natural triglyceride (TG) is found in non-concentrated fish oils. This is the least expensive form. Ethyl ester (EE) is a concentrated form, also not particularly expensive (unless you take the prescription variety). Next, are concentrated triglycerides (rTG), which are triglyceride form oils that have been concentrated to a dose higher than 300 mg of EPA+DHA per capsule. These can get pricy. Finally, you have the phospholipid form, the costliest of all. This is the form of omega-3 that krill oil provides.
Compared to fish-derived EPA and DHA, the omega-3s from krill are much more expensive, taking a supplement that costs less than a dollar a day to a price of five dollars a day or higher. Is there a reason to spend the extra money? No. Studies show that over time, taking an adequate dose will get you to the targeted level, which is about 1,600 mg of EPA+DHA daily.
A 2011 study found that although rTG fish oils are slightly better absorbed than EE fish oils in the short term, an appropriate dose of either form will result in a significant increase in red blood cell concentrations of both EPA and DHA over time. Total red blood cell concentrations of EPA+DHA at or above 8 percent on the Omega-3 Index are considered ideal. Consumption of 1,008 mg of EPA and 672 mg of DHA daily for six months resulted in an Omega-3 Index in excess of 12 (12 percent) for both groups. Although a higher Omega-3 Index was reported in the TG group (13.2) than the EE group (12.2), both results were well above the target of 8 percent and are clinically optimal. A 2015 study also found no differences in blood levels of omega-3 after consuming equal adequate doses of fish oil or krill oil over time. Which form is best? They’re all good, and North Americans don’t get enough EPA and DHA from diet alone. What’s most important is the end result. Get an appropriate dose of any omega-3 form and continue to take it to maintain optimal levels.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE OMEGA-3 INDEX?
A recent study looked at the value of measuring EPA+DHA to assess the risk of developing certain diseases and found that maintaining a higher Omega-3 Index was a better predictor of health than serum cholesterol. The risk for death from any cause was reduced by about 33 percent comparing the lowest Omega-3 Index participants to the highest. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that a higher Omega-3 Index was associated with a lower risk for total cardiovascular disease events, coronary heart disease events, and strokes. Future studies are needed to determine if it is time to include the Omega-3 Index in routine blood screens along with cholesterol and glucose. To learn more about testing, talk to your doctor and visit omegaquant.com.
By Jolie Root, LPN, LNC