Becoming Educated About My Heart
By: Holly Knight
Soon after my first birthday, my grandfather died, suddenly and unexpectedly, of a heart attack. Twenty-eight years later, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital with chest pain. She suffered a stroke during an angioplasty and died soon after. My father, a lifelong smoker, died alone while working the night shift, most likely of heart attack.
During my first term of nursing school, we conducted a self assessment. The first step was to complete a health portrait on the Family History website. Heart disease, the number one killer in the United States, was an obvious concern.
Call me slow, but I had never really considered myself at risk. I do not smoke. I am not obese. I exercise an average of five times a week for a total of 275 minutes. I eat a low-fat diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. All of these habits contribute to heart health, and I thought they would confer some protection.
But my genes seem to be catching up to me.
During my thirties, my cholesterol level was never a concern. Now that I am in my late forties, my cholesterol levels have not been optimal. It was only recently, though, that the stubbornness of the trend began to worry me.
After fall term ended, I had my annual physical exam and I paid particular attention to my lab results. Unfortunately, my commitment to exercise did not pay off in the way I had hoped. My HDLs were low enough to put me in a high risk category (33 mg/dL). My LDLs were high (144 mg/dL), but considered borderline, as was my ratio (5.9). Neither my triglycerides (89 mg/dL) nor my total cholesterol were considered abnormal (195 mg/dL), but the total has been steadily inching upward.
This slightly conflicting data nonetheless confirmed the obvious: I am on the borderline and I have been in denial about it. After this appointment, I understood that, unless I commit to long-term changes, it is likely I will progress further into categories of higher risk.
I have taken fish oil over the years, but very irregularly, and for reasons that have nothing to do with my heart, because, again, I did not consider myself at risk. Until this year, I had not put all of the data in one place before. Now that I am training to be a health care provider, I cannot afford to ignore the obvious any longer.
I discovered research on the health benefits of krill oil while preparing the final report for my self assessment, but I could not pursue it further with final exams and the holidays looming. Since that time, I have undertaken a course of study to determine if regular use of krill oil could normalize my cholesterol levels. As I have gotten older, I have gotten more skeptical about health claims and did not want to blindly adopt a new health habit.
Of greatest interest to me was the fact that the omega-3 fatty acids of krill oil have critical differences from those found in regular fish oil. The fatty acids of krill oil are bound to phospholipids, rather than to triglycerides or ethyl esters as in fish oils (Fosshaug et al. 2011). Schuchardt et al. (2011) compared these three types of oils and found that krill oil contained a higher proportion of free fatty acid, a fact which may contribute to its greater bioavailability. Participants in their small study ingested the same amount of EPA and DHA, but those who took krill oil had significantly higher levels in their blood.
What impresses me about Viva Labs Krill Oil is that it has been independently tested by IKOS, the International Krill Oil Standards Program, for potency and purity. The Viva Labs Krill Oil that was tested by IKOS was even better than the label said it would be! The amount of EPA and DHA in the tested batch exceeded the amount indicated on the label. Most reassuring, however, is that Viva Labs Krill Oil also exceeds standards for purity. Levels for harmful chemicals were far below standards or undetectable.
Because I am an older student who is also saving for my daughter’s college education, I appreciate the fact that Viva Labs Krill Oil comes with an unconditional 90-day money-back guarantee. But I’d rather have a healthy heart than my money back.
After educating myself about krill oil, I took the leap and placed my first order today. And I have scheduled a follow-up appointment to test my cholesterol in three months. I’ll keep you posted! My grandparents, parents, husband, daughter—and my heart—all hope that krill oil will help me to overcome the genetic hand I was dealt.
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Fosshaug L.E., et al. (2011). Krill oil attenuates left ventricular dilatation after myocardial infarction in rats. Lipids in Health and Disease. 10:245
Schuchardt, J. P., et al. (2011). 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 in Health and Disease. 10:145. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854650
Tandy S, et al. (2009). Dietary krill oil supplementation reduces hepatic steatosis, glycemia, and hypercholesterolemia in high-fat-fed mice. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 57(19):9339-45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19761211
Ulven, S. M., et al. (2011). Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers.
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Zhu, J.J., et al. (2008). Effects of krill oil on serum lipids of hyperlipidemic rats and human SW480 cells. Lipids in Health and Disease. 7:30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18755044