Isn't It Easier Just To Eat More Fish? Let's take a step back and find out why fish are so good for us and more importantly what we call oily fish. Oily fish as I will call them for this article are cold water fish that provide higher levels of very beneficial fats called Omega 3 fatty acids and what you commonly hear as EPA and DHA. The oil in these types of fish are generally triglycerides which is attached to a substance known as glycerol. The oily fish I am referring to are fish like salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines. These fish are rich in the powerful EPA and DHA in the form of triglycerides. A much smaller amount occurs in the form of phospholipids which is another type of fat that is a building block of the membrane that surrounds every cell in your body. We will talk more about these phospholipids later. For whatever reason most people don't like these oily fish that I mentioned above and instead choose less fatty fish such as cod, orange roughy and other warm water fish that don't contain these rich powerful fatty acids. Michael Lucas, Ph.D., R.D. at the University of Laval and his team analyzed the intake of marine foods and EPA and DHA in a sample of adults in Quebec, Canada. About one third of the sample reported eating at least one meal of oily fish per week.1 The problem with this is that to reach the target EPA and DHA recommended intake to reduce your risk of death from heart disease scientists recommend you eat two meals (4oz per meal) per week of oily fish.1 For those that choose to eat white fish or non-oily fish, which seems to be the more desirable option requires you to eat that type of fish 9 times in a given week to get the therapeutic levels of EPA and DHA.1 A risk with this amount of fish is that some types of fish often contain elevated levels of methyl mercury, dioxins, PCBs and other environmental contaminants. While this may be the most economical way to increase your EPA and DHA intake most Lucas's team of scientists admit that many people are unable or willing to consume the beneficial EPA and DHA from oily fish alone. What are other alternatives? An alternative to oily fish and to some the unappealing supplements derived from them has appeared on the market, one that scientific evidence suggests can effectively increase your EPA and DHA levels as well as possibly provide additional benefits not available from fish oil supplements. It is called Krill Shrimp like krill are only a couple of inches long, but the population is so large that their "biomass" is measured in billions of tons. Krill eat organisms known as phytoplankton. Krill consist of over 65% protein and 20% omega-3 fatty acids which includes EPA and DHA. Krill also contain more phospholipids than triglyercides2,3. The benefit of phospholipids is that many researchers have provided evidence that the absorption of omega 3 fatty acids and EPA + DHA may be greater when they are supplied in a phospholipid solution instead of triglycerides like conventional fish oil does.4 Harris says that krill may contain fewer environmental toxins2, because of their lower spot on the food chain. Since krill has such a large biomass they can be harvested easier with lower risk of depleting their populations. You could argue that the use of krill oil supplements is more "eco-friendly". In a double blind clinical study they compared 1gm/day of krill oil to 3gm/day of fish oil and found that krill oil was more effective in reducing overall cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol levels and improved HDL cholesterol more significantly than the 3gms of fish oil.6 .................................3gms Fish Oil/Day Krill Oil 1gm/Day Cholesterol .....................-5.9%.............. -13.4% LDL Cholesterol................. -2%............... -32% HDL (Good) Cholesterol ...... 4.2% .................44% Blood Glucose.................. -3.3% ................ -6.3% HDL (Good) Cholesterol improved 44% with krill oil compared to only 4.2% with conventional fish oil. LDL (Bad) Cholesterol decreased 32% with krill oil compared to only 2% reduction with conventional fish oil. Krill also naturally contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that is soluble in fat –perfect for protecting the sensitive cargo of omega-3 fatty acids tucked inside every softgel capsule from oxidation and possible loss of biological activity.* “In both retrospective and prospective biomarker studies among generally healthy individuals without known CHD, compared with individuals in the highest quartile of EPA+DHA tissue levels, individuals in the lowest quartile had 10-fold higher risk of cardiovascular disease independent of other known risk factors. This suggests that findings based on dietary questionnaires alone substantially underestimate the true benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids on cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the magnitudes of risk reduction seen with biomarkers of EPA+DHA are rarely seen in epidemiology—comparable to associations of smoking or asbestos with incidence of lung cancer—and are nearly impossible to explain solely by residual confounding by other factors.”5 The general consensus among international organizations and some of the world’s leading omega-3 researchers like William Harris is that a daily intake of 250-500 mg of EPA+DHA is necessary for primary prevention of death from CHD, and to reduce the risk of death from CHD after a coronary event.