Krill: A Crustacean to Consider for Weight Management

Oslo, Norway—A recent study published in Nutrition & Metabolism confirms the hypothesis that krill oil is beneficial to the endocannabinoid (EC) system in humans. This part of the nervous system helps regulate physiological processes such as mood and appetite. Typically, those who are overweight have higher EC levels in their blood.

The study, which was conducted at Provident Clinical Research in Glen Ellyn, IL by researchers from Finland, Italy and the United States, gathered participants who were obese, overweight or a normal weight. Each person was given two grams of krill oil, menhaden fish oil or olive oil every day for four weeks.

The purpose of giving the omega-3 fatty acids in three different forms was to determine whether krill oil was more beneficial for EC system support than other fish or olive oils. As this study confirms, those who were given krill oil benefited the most. Obese subjects showed decreased levels of plasma 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) after the four week study. Other research indicates that 2-AG is correlated with the deterioration of metabolic variables especially in those with too much abdominal fat. In the present study, patients with a normal weight did not show significant decrease in 2-AG, nor did overweight subjects. These results could mean a promising future for understanding obesity and helping to prevent it in the future.

It is believed that the reason krill oil has such positive effects is because the omega-3s are in the form of phospholipids. In other marine and fish oils, the omega-3s are bound as triglycerides or ethyl esters. The omega-3s in krill oil have been found to cause a higher uptake of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cell membranes, improve blood lipid profiles, and increase uptake of DHA in brain tissue. State the researchers, “One possible explanation for the different effects of krill oil and fish oil might be, as previously suggested [8], the more efficient incorporation of n-3 LCPUFAs into visceral adipose tissue phospholipids, and subsequent decrease in arachidonic acid incorporation associated with krill oil supplementation, hence leading to impaired endocannabinoid biosynthesis.”

The krill used in the study was Superba from Aker BioMarine, headquartered here.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine April 2011 (online 2/24/11)