Have you heard of astaxanthin? It’s what makes wild salmon red. It’s also the most powerful antioxidant on the planet — 550 times more potent than vitamin E.
Long time readers know that I will always recommend we seek our nutrients from food first. That’s why I recommend superfoods instead of vitamin supplements — acerola powder instead of so-called “vitamin C,” cod liver oil instead of vitamin A & D supplements, low-temperature processed brewer’s yeast or a desiccated organ complex from grass-fed cows instead of a B-12 supplement, and so on.
Put simply, krill oil with astaxanthin is a superfood. And unlike other seafood based superfoods which are of questionable sustainability (I’m looking at you, cod liver oil), krill oil can be one of the most sustainably harvested seafoods in the world.
Astaxanthin Fights Inflammation
Inflammation is arguably the root cause of every major chronic disease. The evidence associating inflammation with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, alzheimer’s disease, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and many other chronic illnesses continues to mount. (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
One of nature’s many ways to combat inflammation is with anti-oxidants.
You’re probably familiar with many popular anti-oxidants — vitamin C, CoEnzyme Q-10, vitamin E.
Astaxanthin beats them all. According to this study, it’s
- 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C,
- 800 times stronger than CoQ10,
- 550 times stronger than green tea catechins, and
- 75 times stronger than alpha lipoic acid.
When studied in humans, astaxanthin was also shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (source).
Why Krill Oil with Astaxanthin?
While you can buy astaxanthin as an isolated nutrient, it doesn’t come that way in nature. Rather, it’s usually found in marine animals like salmon, crab, lobster, and shrimp…
Because Krill Oil is Sustainable
Krill are tiny crustaceans that feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton. According to some, they are the largest biomass on the planet. They have relatively short lifespans, reproduce quickly, and are food to all kinds of marine life including whales and penguins. Their short lifespans and ease of reproduction contribute to their long-term sustainability.
As with all seafood, managing sustainability is a must. Overfishing krill can easily decimate the ocean’s whale population, along with those of many other marine animals.
Thankfully, krill can easily be harvested in a sustainable way. The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the international body responsible for managing fishing in the Antarctic Ocean has set an annual catch limit of 3.47 million tonnes. Anything more is considered unsustainable. To date, the total krill catch rate worldwide is only about 150,000 – 180,000 tonnes per year.
The true danger with krill fishing is that you may overfish a particular, small area and thereby adversely impact the other area marine life that depends on krill for food. To avoid this problem, I simply source my krill oil from a fishery that emphasizes sustainable management.
Because Krill Oil is Naturally Non-Toxic
One of the greatest dangers associated with eating seafood is heavy metal toxicity from pollutants like mercury. The longer lived and bigger a seafood is, the more mercury and other contaminants are present.
Because of their small size and short lifespans, krill have no detectable mercury contamination.
Because Krill Oil has Phospholipid Omega-3s
Essential to human health and wellness, Omega-3 fatty acids are routinely studied by nutrition scientists. They’ve found that by keeping an Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio of 1:4, we can benefit:
- major depressive disorder,
- bipolar disorder,
- borderline personality disorder,
- improved cognitive function,
- reduce inflammation,
- and more!
In light of all these positive improvements, the public has been urged to take fish oil supplements high in Omega-3 fatty acids to improve their ratios of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats.
While this is surely helpful, I think it’s also important to balance your fish oil intake so that you don’t eat more than 4% of your calories from these polyunsaturated fats. Not only would this keep us in line with the balance of fats healthy, successful traditional cultures ate, it also appears to reduce long-term risk of inflammation. (Read Should You Take Fish Oil? for more on that. Because of this, I’ve simply adopted the practice of eating a spoonful of coconut oil for every gram of fish oil I consume.)
But did you know that not all Omega-3s are the same? Some are phospholipid Omega-3s, and others are triglyceride Omega-3s.
Phospholipids are used within your body to build your cell membranes. Research suggests that the phospholipid form of Omega-3 fatty acids found in krill oil are more biologically available to us than the triglyceride form of Omega-3 fats found in conventional fish oils and even cod liver oil (source).
In fact, in double-blind clinical trials, Krill omega-3 phospholipids notably outperformed conventional fish oil DHA/EPA triglycerides for premenstrual syndrome/dysmenorrhea and for normalizing blood lipid profiles. (source)
Because I Want Therapeutic Doses of Astaxanthin
According to research, a therapeutic dose of astaxanthin is 12mg per day. It’s nearly impossible to eat enough astaxanthin:
Wild Pacific salmon, especially sockeye salmon, have the highest astaxanthin content. However you’d have to eat about 6 ounces (165 grams) daily to get a 3.6 milligram dose. Since studies show that doses greater than that provide anti-inflammatory benefits, I always suggest an astaxanthin supplement.
This is also why she doesn’t recommend krill oil as a source of astaxanthin. In most krill oils, a capsule contains a mere 0.1 mg of astaxanthin — nowhere near a therapeutic dose.
Unfortunately, though, almost all commercially available isolated astaxanthin is synthetic, created in laboratories from petrochemicals or petrochemical derivatives. It’s primary use is as a food for farmed salmon so that their filets can have a pinkish hue rather than an unappealing grey one.
Where to Buy Krill Oil with Astaxanthin
Thankfully, I’ve found a krill oil that concentrates 6mg of astaxanthin per capsule (so just two capsules put you at the daily therapeutic dose!). One of my sponsors, Radiant Life, makes just such an oil.
It’s called Radiant Life Krill Plus12.
And as you’d expect from Norman and Kathy LeMoine, Radiant Life’s Krill Oil is sustainably harvested and 100% natural.
And, unlike most commercially available astaxanthin, the astaxanthin in their Krill Plus12 supplement is naturally concentrated from algae and phytoplankton.
Click here to buy Radiant Life’s Krill Plus12.
Eileen @ Phoenix Helix says
Based on Dr. Mercola’s advice, I traded my FCLO for Krill Oil for a few months as an experiment, and I’m noticing that I have less pain. It could be a coincidence – correlation isn’t causation, but I’m happy about it. I keep the FCLO on hand to fight illness- it’s so effective for that, but I’m not sure I’ll go back to a daily dose.
Hi, I currently take 2 caps of FCLO/Butter oil a day. I know I should take more, but I’m on a budget and that stuff is a little on the pricey side. I would like to take Radiant Life Krill Plus12 also. Do you recommend taking both every day? I noticed you said you take spoon full of coconut oil for every gram of fish oil. I don’t have the FCLO/BO bottle in front of me, but does it say how much fish oil is in each pill? I also take a 5000 vitamin D supplement daily. My vitamin D levels are usually very low, between 11-19, and I’m trying to get them up. Since taking FCLO/BO for the last month, this is the first time in about a year that my knees haven’t hurt. I don’t know if that is a coincidence or not. Any advice would be great and much appreciated! I’m so confused with all of this!
I do recommend taking the Krill Plus12 everyday. Like I said, it’s far more sustainable and only 2 capsules gives you the therapeutic dose of astaxanthin.
That said, unlike FCLO, krill oil is not a fantastic source of Vitamins A & D.
Basically, each oil has its strength, and you need to judge what your needs are to decide if/when/how you’ll take them.
My sister recently bought your book Beautiful Babies for me and in it you recommend fermented cod liver oil. I am currently trying to get pregnant and am working towards correcting my nutrition, that being said would you recommend taking FCLO over the krill oil or taking both?
Have you any thoughts on taking krill oil for persons who are sensitive or allergic to shrimp?
From what I’ve read, most people who are allergic to shellfish don’t have problems with Krill Oil. Only a few super-sensitive people do. That’s because the primary allergen in the shellfish isn’t present in the oil.
I was on the fence about switching from fermented cod liver/butter oil (Green Pastures) to krill/primrose oil (Mercola) because of the Vitamin A & D. In the end I have decided to alternate, taking fermented cod liver/butter oil during the winter months when I need the Vitamin D, and going with the krill oil during the spring and summer months. Now that I am pregnant, I am alternating every few days.
That seems reasonable!
Megan S. says
I am super sensitive to all seafood/fresh water fish, like anaphylactic reaction sensitive, therefore making fermented cod liver oil and krill oil a no go for me, do you have any suggestions for other ways to supplement? Thanks!
If you’re trying to supplement with astaxanthin, you can find it buy itself. There are some good brands out there that are sourced entirely from microalgae. I don’t particularly like isolating nutrients this way, but I can respect and understand that sometimes it really does have therapeutic value and can easily benefit the people who need it!
I recommend buying from Radiant Life, here –> http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=UmeXomzhd*M&subid=&offerid=275461.1&type=10&tmpid=1077&RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fwww.vitacost.com%252Fvitaminsandsupplements
Is there any reason not to take the krill oil and evening primrose oil as well as fermented cod liver oil if one could afford it?
I can’t think of any. I’m not a health practitioner, though. And, I’m not you. So, I don’t know how your particular biological inner ecosystem would respond to all of them. But if you find it helpful, you should keep it up!
My hesitation has always been that I’m not aware of a society that ate krill. Is krill a traditional food for anyone Kristen? Thanks!
I don’t think it is. It’s more like a food our food eats.
Jo-De Davis says
Just wondering why you choose this over the Neptune Krill Oil (NKO). I have heard that the NKO is the best. Sell me on your product!
I’m confused. I’m not aware of NKO having a product that combines both Krill Oil and added Astaxanthin. I thought it was just Krill oil.
Susan Garrett says
Have you ever heard of this helping a macular hole (not diabetes related). I got one out of nowhere. I’m 63 and eat well and take tons of vitamins. I have my diabetes under control with a low carb diet. I want to help my eyes as much as possible.
How does Radiant Life compare with Mercola’s brand? Are you even allowed to comment honestly since Radiant Life sponsors your blog?
Of course I can comment honestly! That’s the whole reason to have advertisers rather than affiliate relationships.
In an affiliate relationship, I make a commission on sales. This, according to federal law, makes me a contracted employee of the company and limits what I can say to FDA-approved claims, etc. If a company’s just buying ads on my site, it means that I can say whatever I want and not be penalized!
So, saying that, I’m not aware of Dr. Mercola having a product that combines Krill Oil with extra Astaxanthin. I knew he had both separately, but not both combined. Does such a product exist?
Do you know if children can take this? If not, is there a comparable product children can take?
Mkittekatbloggen via Facebook says
Humans have NEVER used krill as a food source and have ALWAYS consumed EPA and DHA in triglyceride form from either wild game or fish. In other words humans are genetically designed to consume and absorb EPA and DHA in the triglyceride form. Krill oil is furthermore extracted with solvents, often hexane, to produce a clean and stable oil. Because of the way hexanes binds with with the interior, highly hydrophobic regions of folded proteins during hexane extraction (there are some protiens even in oil), they then survive bound to protiens until digestion in the gut, at which point this toxic hexane is released. Dont eat food extracted in solvents – eat real food! http://www.drlwilson.com/ARTICLES/KRILL.htm
Jessica Valliere via Facebook says
Fermented cod liver oil
Jan Ford via Facebook says
Jeanette Dupree Meyer via Facebook says
Why does krill oil or fish oil make my husband’s eyes bleed…something fierce?
Janell Richardson via Facebook says
So should stop taking FCLO?
Mary Light via Facebook says
I have been taking astaxanthin and notice a positive difference as to decrease in inflammation responses after exercise, and as to increased vitality. The nutritionist Susan Smith Jones has an interesting testimonial about it on her website.
Single Man's Kitchen via Facebook says
Most astaxanthin is from a chemical factory and has a mixture of stereo-isomers that are not in the right ratio for humans, but you do get it naturally in krill. You also get it in most crustaceans particularly shrimp, also in salmon, trout, and in some yeasts.
The main use of the synthetic version is to artificially colour the flesh of farmed salmon and the yolks of eggs from battery chickens.
Joy Easley via Facebook says
I do fermented cod liver oil. As much as we are already endangering whales, I don’t want to contribute to depleting krill, the only food source of some whale species.
Scott R McMillan says
This is by far one of my favorite articles of all time. I loved the information covered about omega 3 krill oil and its endless benefits! I strongly support what is said based on my own experiences and others i have had try krill oil.
Josephine Higgins says
Hi ….hoping you can help me.I am 53 and have had rosacea for 3 yrs now.I have been reading online how omega 3 or is it omga 6 fatty acids ? really help with my skin condition combined with astaxathin supplements. I was also advised to take glutathione which is a powerful subtance considering that I am in my fifties , I also have been reading online about magnesium how it really helps too. What do you suggest as I am a bit confused. I would very much appreciate a reply soon .Thank you.
Ingrid Khadijah says
I found that krill has really helped with eye floaters and candida!