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5 Reasons Why Krill Oil Is The #1 Omega-3 Supplement For Brain Health

By Dennis Buckley

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If you already take your daily dose of fish oil like clockwork, congratulations, you're ahead of the curve.

But if you really want to support your body and mind with the most powerful and beneficial impact, you might want to re-think where you're getting your omega-3 nutrition from...

The fish oil vs. krill oil debate has persisted for years -- two seemingly identical supplements sold side by side on store shelves--, but the evidence is finally clear: krill oil is the superior omega-3 supplement for physical and mental health.

In today's article we share the 5 science-proven reasons why krill oil earns the #1 spot for best omega-3 supplement, hands down.

The Importance Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

First off, you need to know why these oils are good for you in the first place.

The reason that krill oil and fish oil are healthy for you is because they contain a high concentration of essential fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids, in particular EPA and DHA, are debatably the most deficient nutrients in the American diet today.

This is partially because so many people are misled into believing that low fat diets are best for us. It's good to have a diet that's low in trans fat and refined vegetable oils, which are generally recognized as unhealthy, but our bodies still contain and require a significant amount of fat [1]. We need it to survive.

Think of it as lubricant for our cognitive and bodily functions.

This is why deficiencies of essential fatty acids can have such significant effects. Among other things, essential fatty acids are required for us to operate at our highest cognitive level. The Omega-3s in particular are known for their ability to help bolster mental performance. [2].

DHA makes up about 60% of your brain tissue, so you're going to need a significant amount of it in your diet to be able to maintain peak performance [3]. Other essential fatty acids help your brain transmit electrical impulses for communication. If you don't get enough fatty acids, you will notice a significantly impaired ability to concentrate, think, and recall memories.

Fish oils are routinely cited for being high-quality sources of essential fatty acids. While they are certainly concentrated sources of these nutrients, fish oil is typically processed in a manner that makes the fatty acids less accessible. If a fish oil product is molecularly distilled, like most are, the end result is an oil in the form of an ethyl ester. Ethyl esters have the lowest bioavailability of all sources of fatty acids.

Krill Oil Vs. Fish Oil: Let's End the Debate

Most cold water fish oil naturally contains a significant concentration of essential fatty acids. As long as it's wild-caught, not farm-raised, it doesn't matter much if you get your oil from salmon, cod, mackerel, or sardines. They're all high in a good amount of EPA and DHA.

Unfortunately, as we mentioned, these fatty acids are usually esterified...  

So what makes krill oil special?

  • Krill oil is the most potent, bioavailable form of oil that you can buy for restoring balance to your EPA and DHA levels. This is largely because the essential fatty acids present in krill oil are not in the form of triglycerides, like they are in fish oil.

  • Krill oil contains the much more absorbable phospholipid forms of EPA and DHA, and studies have shown that it decreases the body’s cholesterol synthesis while providing better levels of these nutrients [4].

  • These different biological effects are because of the complex array of phospholipids and of the antioxidant profile of krill oil. These nutrients all work together in a synergistic fashion to create benefits that are much greater than they would be on their own.

  • It's capable of being stored in a wider range of temperatures, and can be kept for longer. This is hugely important, considering over 25% of off-the-shelf fish oil products are rancid and damaged from oxidation.

  • The krill industry is regulated by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) [5]. This might just seem like a mouthful at first, but this organization helps regulate the industry and ensure that krill are not farmed or fished to extinction.

  • Krill oil contains one of the best natural sources of astaxanthin. This nutrient is a very potent, very healthy carotenoid antioxidant that can usually be found in trace amounts in brightly colored vegetables and fruits. Astaxanthin actually helps the body make better use of its EPA and DHA, and protects the essential fatty acids from being degraded. None of the varieties of fish oil contain this nutrient.

For now, we can't debate the fact that krill oil is the richest source of absorbable EPA and DHA available right now. But you won't get excited about that until you know the benefits that krill oil can have on your mental health.

How Krill Oil Helps Your Brain

The combination of nutrients in krill oil provides an impressive array of benefits for your brain.

1. Neuroprotective benefits

Regular intake of krill oil helps to protect the brain and improve mental function, even going as far to prevent the development of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer's.

In fact, a review of studies observing the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer's has been quite positive [6]. It has been indicated repeatedly that the regular intake of fish oil slows the decline of cognitive activity in elderly patients with dementia. It’s likely that krill oil would be even more effective at preventing the emergence of impaired thinking.

Other studies report that's deficiencies in DHA can be partly responsible for cognitive decline and dementia [7]. Increasing the levels of DHA consumed through the diet can help protect people against these conditions. DHA has also shown to be effective at protecting against mental impairment caused by traumatic injuries and diabetes.

2. Conserve gray matter

Gray matter is a major component of our neural system, composing much of neural cell bodies, synapses, and dendrites. As we age, gray matter tends to deteriorate. This study looked at the effects of fish and omega-3 fatty acid consumption on gray matter [8].

260 subjects were selected, all mentally and physically healthy. Subjects came from a variety of races, ages, educational background, sizes, and levels of physical activity. The test was done to compare the levels of gray matter in several parts of the brain after the weekly consumption of fish.

The study showed that fish consumption, along with a healthy lifestyle, was positively linked to a higher level of gray matter.

3. Reduce symptoms of mental disorder

Studies have linked omega-3 fatty acid consumption to a reduction in symptoms of various mental disorders.

Omega-3s have shown promise in fighting bipolar disorder too. In a preliminary, double blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 30 subjects with bipolar disorder, done over a period of four months, the effects of omega-3 supplementation were compared against placebo [9]. Sometimes taking 9.6 g/d of omega 3s  showed a significant increase in the length of remission between bipolar episodes.

Omega-3s were also indicated in reducing anxiety and anger [10]. Deficiencies in omega-3s have been linked to negative emotional conditions like anger and anxiety. In a study done on 22 substance users that were given a mixture of EPA and DHA in a double-blind trial, anxiety and anger levels were measured on scales. The treatment involving supplementation with fatty acids significantly decreased scores for anger and anxiety when compared to the control group.

4. Improve Mood

In an analysis of 11 studies looking at major depressive disorder, supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids was shown to improve depressive symptoms [11].

There was more benefits when the ratio of omega-3s included mostly EPA. The results we're not dependent on age, severity of depression, the length of the trial, or the subject's weight.

5. Improve cognitive performance

A very interesting study was done on the effects of EPA and DHA supplements for cognitive ability [12]. The study focused on young adults in a double-blind, counterbalanced trial over 30 days.

The study suggested that EPA is possibly more effective at improving mental health. The subjects were both fed supplements of DHA and EPA separately. The EPA rich supplementation showed an increase in the right precentral gyrus, a decrease in reaction time, and decrease in the activation of the left anterior cingulate cortex. This suggests that the brain is able to function better, while exerting less effort, when supplemented with EPA.

The same group, when subjected to DHA supplementation, did not show significant Improvement.

Krill oil has also been shown to demonstrate similar effects compared to well-studied fish oil, while requiring significantly lower doses of EPA and DHA [13].

In conclusion

Essential fatty acids are highly indicated in the maintenance and Improvement of good mental health.

Some of the best sources of essential fatty acids are found in our oceans. The most well-known high-potency sources of omega 3s come from various fish oils, but the growing popularity of krill oil has brought awareness to its higher efficacy as a source of healthy fats to support brain health.

Krill oil can significantly improve many aspects of your mental health by providing a high concentration of EPA and DHA fatty acids. If you are hoping to improve your cognitive abilities naturally, you should probably look into supplementing krill oil.

Did you enjoy this article?

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