Krill oil characterization may aid product development: Aker

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Krill oil, Omega-3 fatty acids, Fatty acid, Omega-3 fatty acid, Superba krill oil

A detailed description of the fatty acid profile of krill oil has revealed a high content of phospholipid omega-3 fatty acid, and may aid future product development.

The study, published in Lipids​ provides a characterization of the phospholipid fatty acids profile of krill oil, revealing a high presence of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.

“Krill oil provides the majority of its omega-3 fatty acids in the form of phospholipids, whereas other common marine oils contain omega-3 fatty acids in the form of triglycerides or ethyl esters,”​ wrote the researchers, led by Bjørn Winther at the University of Oslo.

The study was partially funded by Aker BioMarine ASA and was performed by researchers at the University of Oslo, in co-operation with researchers from Aker BioMarine. The krill oil tested was Superba Krill Oil, provided by Aker BioMarine ASA.

“This is an important step to further understand the effects of Superba Krill Oil. The complexity of the phospholipids in krill oil has now been revealed and will give us more insight in future research and product development,” ​said Nils Hoem, PhD, Vice President, Research and Development at Aker BioMarine,

“The characterization of phospholipids in krill is an essential part of our discovery engine and essential for future product development,”​ added Hoem.

Important source

The authors stated that krill oil has emerged as an “important source of omega-3 fatty acids for human consumption during the last decade.”

More ‘traditional’ omega-3 supplements – such as cod liver oil and fish oil – on the market are based on omega-3 fatty acids bound to triglycerides or bound as ethyl esters, whereas krill oil contains a large number of omega-3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids, stated the researchers.

Several previous studies have investigated krill oil, and there is growing evidence to suggest that the molecular form of omega-3 fatty acids may be of importance in their biological functions, as well as in the distribution of the omega-3 in the body.

Previous research demonstrated that, when given to rats in equal amounts, krill oil and fish oil had different effects, with krill oil resulting in stronger effects in relation to metabolic syndrome.

The aim of the new study was to characterize the phospholipids in krill oil in more detail, to evaluate the composition of the fatty acids present in the phospholipids.


The researchers detected a total of 69 choline-containing phospholipids, of which 60 were reported to be omega-3 containing substances.

Further analysis revealed that around ten percent of the phospholipids contained omega-3 fatty acids in more than one position.

“These results demonstrate the complexity of the phospholipid composition of krill oil, and the high presence of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids,”​ stated the researchers.

The authors added that investigation into its phospholipid composition “might potentially give better insight into the mechanism and distribution of krill oil in the body.”

Source: Lipids
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s11745-010-3472-6
“Elucidation of Phosphatidylcholine Composition in Krill Oil Extracted from Euphausia superba”
Authors: B. Winther, N. Hoem. K. Berge, L. Reubsaet

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