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Krill oil safe, well tolerated and effective, says study

By Stephen Daniells , 26-Oct-2009

Daily supplements of omega-3-rich krill oil is a safe and effective way of increasing levels of EPA and DHA, says a new study from Aker Biomarine.

Four weeks of krill oil supplementation raised levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in overweight and obese men and women with “no indication of adverse effects on safety parameters”, report researches in Nutrition Research.

The study is an important support of the safety and efficacy of an ingredient increasingly used to enrich food and supplements with omega-3 fatty acids. The research used Aker Biomarine’s Superba krill oil ingredient, and the study was financed by the Norwegian company.

Demand for krill oil, rich in omega-3, phospholipids and antioxidants, is reportedly increasing. The overall European market for omega-3 from all sources is growing at 24 per cent and forecast to be valued at $1.6bn by 2014, according to some market estimates. Another player, Enzymotec, recently announced a capacity expansion for its krill oil in order to meet growing customer demand for the product.

Krill, which means 'whale food' in Norwegian, are small shrimp-like marine crustaceans eaten by fish, birds and, in particular, whales.

Krill are considered to have the largest biomass of any multi-cellular animal in the world - between 100 and 800 million tones. Despite this, the population has reduced in the past 30 years, resulting in some concern over its harvesting.

Safe and bioavailable

Led by Kevin Maki from Provident Clinical Research, the researchers recruited 76 overweight and obese men and women to take part in their randomized, double-blind parallel arm trial.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive capsules containing 2 grams per day of krill oil, fish oil (menhaden), or control oil (olive) for four weeks.

At the end of the time, the researchers report that levels of EPA and DHA concentrations increased significantly more following krill oil supplementation than following menhaden or olive oil supplementation. Indeed, EPA and DHA levels rose by an average 178 and 90 micromoles per litre of plasma, respectively, in the krill oil group, compared to 132 and 150 micromoles per litre of plasma in the menhaden group, and only 3 and -1.1 micromoles in the olive oil group.

“The daily quantity of EPA provided in the krill (216 mg) and menhaden oil (212 mg) supplements in this study was comparable,” reported the researchers. “However, the DHA present in the krill oil (90 mg/d) was approximately one half that provided in the menhaden oil (178 mg/d).

“At the end of the treatment period, the mean plasma EPA concentration was somewhat higher in the krill oil group compared with the menhaden oil group (377 versus 293 micromoles per litre), whereas the mean plasma DHA concentrations were comparable (476 versus 478 micromoles per litre).

“These results suggest that the EPA and DHA from krill oil are absorbed at least as well as that from menhaden oil,” they added.

“Compared with both menhaden oil and olive oil, krill oil was generally well tolerated and showed no indication of adverse effects on safety parameters,” they concluded.

Novel food

The leader in krill oil, Canada’s Neptune Technologies & Bioresources, gained hard-to-come-by Novel Foods approval for its proprietary, patented extract of the omega-3 rich, micro-sized marine creature in February 2009.

The company also gained EU PARNUTS (foods for particular nutritional uses) approval which, combined with the Novel Foods go-ahead, means Neptune’s NKO ingredient can be formulated into dietary supplements, functional foods, diet meal replacements, and dietary foods for special medical purposes.

Source: Nutrition Research
Volume 29, Issue 9, Pages 609-615
“Krill oil supplementation increases plasma concentrations of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in overweight and obese men and women”
Authors: K.C. Maki, M.S. Reeves, M. Farmer, M. Griinari, K. Berge, H. Vik, R. Hubacher, T.M. Rains

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