The ingredient, called K-Real Gold, is produced with Enzymotec’s proprietary MSO 2.0 technology, and boosts the EPA and DHA levels of the company’s previous offerings, said Itay Shafat, senior scientist at Enzymotec.
“The level of omega-3 in the new product are approximately 20% higher than previous grades,” Shafat told NutraIngredients-USA.
Krill oil is high in phospholipids, molecules which are more easily digested and absorbed by the body, which accounts for the ingredient’s claims of greater ‘bioefficiency.’ It also has traded on the ‘no fishy burps’ message, a reaction that some consumers have to fish oils.
Smell has been limiting factor
But krill has struggled with the smell issue; krill are delicate shrimp-like animals that can be damaged easily while being caught and processed and start breaking down immediately. Krill harvesting companies have found various ways of dealing with this, including rapid on board processing. Nevertheless, until recently krill oil has had a rotten bait bucket type odor that has limited its appeal and its application.
Enzymotec tacked this problem with its proprietary processing technology that yields what it calls a “T free” ingredient. The “T” here refers to a class of chemicals found in the krill: Trimethylamine, or TMA, which is what imparts the objectionable odor, and two metabolites, trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO, which has undesirable health properties. The “T” also refers to total volatile nitrogen, or TVN.
“Enzymotec was the first company who introduced the concepts of freshness and better smell of its krill oil products, over 4 years ago. Our krill oil organoleptic properties were worldwide recognized, especially when compared to other krill oil products. Concepts like TMA, TVN and TMAO have been included into our products COAs, including guaranteed low levels. The new K-Real Gold takes this into a whole another level. The T-Free message means that K-Real Gold presents, for the first time, a krill oil with so low levels of TMA (the molecule causing the smell), TVN and TMAO, so that they cannot be measured by the detection method —and this fact is guaranteed in the product COA. While our competitors indeed improved the smell properties of their products, none can claim the same as K-Real Gold,” Shafat said.
Higher astaxanthin levels
Enzymotec is also touting the ingredient’s higher levels of astaxanthin, which is present naturally in the krill raw material. While the levels are not high enough to be associated with an astaxanthin health benefit claim, the enhanced concentration of this carotenoid does have some plusses in and of itself.
“Impurities in krill oil, which can measure at as high as 3% of the oil, can expedite oxidation reactions. Removal of these impurities by MSO 2.0 technology, allows for improved stability of K-Real Gold. Astaxanthin, being a potent antioxidant as it is, obviously also contributes to this stability of K-Real Gold from oxidation,” Shafat said.
Shafat said the prospects for krill oil, after a soft patch that afflicted the overall omega-3s market, are looking up. The new, cleaner ingredient is well poised to take advantage of these new opportunities, he said.
“Enzymotec believes that the krill oil market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Therefore, Enzymotec is investing great efforts in development of future innovative products and in adding krill oil into new segments,” he said.