It is undeniable that the demand for Krill oil has surged over the last decade. This natural resource that was once abundant is now being threatened by increased global demand for what some consider “a better supplement”. But is it? What are we sacrificing to harvest this precious natural resource, and what kind of impact is it having on animal life and climate change?
Krill, or more precisely, Antarctic Krill, are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans rich in an oil that contains omega-3 fatty acids, as well as antioxidant pigments, known as astaxanthin. Marketers claim that the oil’s chemical structure, the krill omega-3s, might be more readily absorbed by our bodies than those in fish oil. This is widely speculative and has not been studied extensively, and in cases where it has been studied, the dosage that has been used to show positive effects was 10 to 20x the dose of most krill oil supplements. Another advantage that is claimed is that because krill oil is absorbed differently, you don’t burp up a fishy taste afterward – a common complaint of people using fish oil supplements. This is again something that can be easily avoided by consuming a quality Omega-3 in a premium triglyceride form.
On the surface, the Krill oil industry seems to be very sustainable. Thes estimated population for this critical natural resource is 400 million tons in the Antarctic alone. The catch limit that was set back in 2010 is 620,000 tonnes which is less than 1% of the total estimated population. But what is not being divulged is that the majority of this fishing is happening in some of the most concentrated areas of Krill. These giant fishing boats that can vacuum and process over 1,000 tons of Krill daily are targeting dense populations of the species that happen to be where there is the most biodiversity. This Keystone species is essential to all animal life in the Antarctic and critical food to the penguins, whales, and seals in the area. Harvesting krill in such a concentrated manner is detrimental to the ecosystem as a whole. The loudest advocate against this has been Greenpeace, which has claimed that the fisheries are putting the entire Antarctic food web at risk.
So you think that this won’t impact you and that this is strictly a localized issue? Think again. Krill plays an integral part in the carbon cycle and contributes iron and other nutrients that fertilize the ocean. The Southern Ocean is one of the largest carbon sinks in the world, and Krill can influence atmospheric carbon levels. One study found that Krill can remove up to 12 billion tonnes of carbon from the Earth’s atmosphere. The Antarctic is already among the fastest-warming regions of the planet, increasing by almost a full 3 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years and that in itself is putting a spotlight on the Krill’s ability to reproduce. It seems fairly safe to say that, it would be difficult to assume that any fishing in the area could be considered sustainable when we know the end result will be very bad.
There are several reasons why Krill is not the ideal supplement you have been led to believe. It is not nearly as sustainable as they will have you believe, and fishing alone has a devastating effect on the Antarctic ecosystem and our entire planet. It is a costly raw material which causes a lot of substitution, or worse, the inclusion of other raw materials that are not disclosed in the products. For example, there have been several Krill oils that have been found to be primarily salmon oil. In addition to this, the dosing does not reflect that of a therapeutic dose, and if you truly wanted to get the benefits being claimed, you would need to consume the entire bottle as one serving.
What you need to consider is that the Krill oil supplement you’ve been thinking about is likely not as sustainable or beneficial as you think. You should consider finding yourself a quality Fish Oil or Algae oil, with a real therapeutic dose in a triglyceride form that you can trust.