Krill oil is used as a health supplement and has been found to be very beneficial to health. The main active components of krill oil are phosphatidylcholine, omega-3 fatty acids and astaxanthin. Phosphatidylcholine is made up of omega-3 fatty acids attached to phospholipids. These compounds are very important for the formation of membranes and are thought to be more active than individual omega-3 acids. The attached phospholipids make it easier for the body to absorb the fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids that have a double bond at the 3rd carbon in the molecular structure. These fatty acids are important for human metabolism and heart health. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that also acts as a pigment and provides color to shellfish and can reduce the build-up of damaging free radicals in the body.
There are two different types of omega-3 fatty acids important to humans: DHA and EPA. DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid and has been found to be effective at reducing the risk of heart disease. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid and has been found to lower inflammation in the body and may be effective at treating depression. Fish oil, flaxseed oil, krill oil and salmon oil all contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but the types of acids vary. Flaxseed oil contains high levels of ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. The body can metabolize ALA into DHA and EPA. However the body is not overly efficient at converting ALA to these two acids. Therefore fish, salmon and krill oil are considered better sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
When comparing krill oil to fish oil, krill oil has an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) that is 48 times greater. This higher ORAC is due to the presence of astathaxin. This antioxidant protects the body from UV damage and can also help reduce the levels of LDL-cholesterol and increase the levels of HDL-cholesterol in the blood. Oil made of krill is the only one to have such beneficial antioxidant effects.
Consumers have also found that krill oil supplements do not have a fishy taste, a common problem with fish oil supplements. Also when compared to the source of the oil, krill is abundant in the ocean and is not in any danger of being over fished. Salmon oil can be hard to find due to the availability of salmon. So consumers can be sure to find krill oil all year round, while salmon oil may only be available certain times of the year.
Another main difference between fish oil and krill oil is the presence of phosphatidylcholine. Other fish oil products have omega-3 fatty acids bound to other fatty acids, forming triglycerides. Krill oil does not contain these triglycerides. Instead studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids are bound to phospholipids. These compounds are more effective at reducing the amount of fats in the heart and liver than triglyceride forms. While the actual usage of these compounds in the body is not known, current studies suggest that the omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are more active than those in other fish oils and supplements. When taking all that is known about krill oil into account, this is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids for the body and contains additional benefits from antioxidants.
Krill oil comes from a small crustacean, known as krill. Krill look like small shrimp and are found in abundance in the ocean. They are typically about 2 inches long, opaque and pinkish in color. While krill are found in all oceans, specific types are found in specific areas. For instance, there is a species that only lives in deep sea and are not found anywhere else. Other individual species are found in the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. In the Antarctic there are seven different species of krill, with some species living under the ice and others in the open ocean. Krill has been used as a food source since the 19th century. Large scale fishing is found around Japan and in Antarctic waters.
These animals are very important to ecosystems as these animals are a source of energy for larger animals. Krill eat phytoplankton and algae and then larger animals, ones that cannot feed on phytoplankton, then eat krill. Animals that eat krill range from smaller fish and penguins to very large animals, such as whales and seals. Small changes in the ecosystem, such as changing water temperature by as little as one degree, can cause a decline in krill. A decrease in krill will then greatly affect all the other animals that rely on krill as a food source.
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