Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Is krill oil better for the heart than fish oil?

Q. A relative in Australia was told to take krill oil capsules, which are advertised as better for heart health than fish oil. What's your opinion?

A. Krill oil is extracted from the bodies of Antarctic krill — tiny shrimp-like shellfish — and can be taken in capsules. Like fatty fish and fish oil supplements, krill oil capsules contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Consumption of these fatty acids (and alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is derived from plants and converted in the body to DHA and EPA) is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.

There's little research on krill oil supplements. One product, Neptune Krill Oil, has been shown to improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to decrease hs-CRP (a measure of inflammation that's important in cardiovascular disease). But studies lasted only three months, so long-term effectiveness and safety are unknown.

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