Krill are small crustaceans of the order Euphausiacea, and are found in all the world’s oceans. The name “krill” comes from the Norwegian word krill, meaning “small fry of fish”, which is also often attributed to species of fish.
Krill are considered an important trophic level connection – near the bottom of the food chain. They feed on phytoplankton and (to a lesser extent) zooplankton, yet also are the main source of food for many larger animals. In the Southern Ocean, one species, the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, makes up an estimated biomass of around 379,000,000 tonnes, making it among the species with the largest total biomass. Over half of this biomass is eaten by whales, seals, penguins, squid, and fish each year. Most krill species display large diel vertical migrations, thus providing food for predators near the surface at night and in deeper waters during the day.
So why am I writing about these tiny, prawn-like creatures? Because a few years ago I swapped generic fish oil supplements for krill oil. I had started to do more research on the supplements, and the fish oil I was taking was probably not that good for me. It was not sourced, it did not go under rigorous testing, and it was probably not from sustainable sources. My research led to krill oil.
- High in Omega-3s
- High in phospholipids
- High in antioxidants
- Promotes normal vision and brain function
- May help with arthritis
- Contributes to normal heart function
- No danger of heavy metals, unlike fish oil supplements
- Contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid which limits oxidation
- Krill oil is environmentally sustainable
The Importance of Omega-3s
These polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are used for digestion, vision and brain function, muscle activity and blood clotting. Krill oil has Omega-3s in abundance, but it also contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are the building blocs of the cells; they are also anti-inflammatory and contribute to normal cardiovascular function.
These are naturally occurring in krill oil. In essence, phospholipids help the body absorb Omega-3s. Phospholipids are not naturally occurring in fish oils.
Krill harvested in the Antarctic has been under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for forty years. Save for eco-extremists who complain about every impact mankind has on nature, most environmentalists agree that fishing practices in the Antarctic are sustainable. The annual catch of Euphausia superba (i.e., Krill from Antarctic waters) since the mid-1990s is about 100–120,000 tonnes annually which is about one fiftieth of the CCAMLR catch quota.
I take krill oil as a regular supplement. The fact that it is sustainable, healthier and more beneficial than fish oil makes this a no-brainer for me.