Krill are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that are the primary food source for whales. A blue whale will eat up to 8,000 pounds of krill everyday! Like most things that crawl out of the ocean, the Japanese consume krill, where it’s called okiami, as part of their diet.
There has recently been a great deal of interest in krill as a source of Omega-3 due to three supposed additional benefits over fish oil:
- DHA & EPA, the omega-3 fatty acids, are attached to phospholipids,
- A supposedly powerful antioxidant named astaxanthin
- Krill are allegedly free from contamination risks, unlike fish
Omega 3 with Phospholipids: Important?
First, there is no research to suggest any additional benefit to having omega-3s attached to phospholipids. If you want more phospholipids in your diet, like Lecithin, you can supplement with them.
Antioxidant Value of Krill Oil
Second, there is nothing particularly special about astaxanthin as an antioxidant, which is part of the carotenoid family (most famous for beta-carotene). A study concluded that it does not perform better than most other antioxidants in its class (“Importance of carotenoid structure in radical scavenging reactions”, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry).
Krill Oil Often Contaminated
Finally, multiple studies have confirmed Krill to be subject to the same contamination that fish are (“Occurrence of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and their enantiomeric signatures, and concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the penguin food web, Antarctica” in Environmental Pollution, and “Anthropogenic and naturally occurring organobrominated compounds in fish oil dietary supplements” in Environmental Science and Technology). Because krill oil producers don’t believe, or don’t care, that krill is at risk for toxin contamination, krill oil is actually dangerous to supplement with.
One proven benefit of krill oil, however, is its ability to make people a lot of money! In particular, a certain popular internet doctor / brilliant internet marketer named Mercola!