When it’s fresh, krill oil is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids. However, krill oil has a chemical structure that makes it highly susceptible to spoiling or oxidation. The oxidation process begins as soon as the oil is exposed to oxygen, heat or light. The antioxidant found in krill oil, astaxanthin, can act as an anti-rancidity agent, but only if present in very high quantities. And if you’re taking krill oil in the form of capsules, you might never know that they’ve gone bad. Studies have found that after the initial period of rancidity where the increase of fishy flavors and odors occurs, the oil continues to oxidize but the odors and flavors return to neutral.
Chances are good that you are taking krill oil supplements to improve your health. Perhaps you are trying to lower your cholesterol and stave off heart disease. Or maybe you’re taking krill for its anti-inflammatory properties to relieve joint pain. It’s possible that you use krill oil to improve brain functioning and mental clarity. These are all excellent reasons to take a krill oil supplement. But, if your krill oil is rancid, you may be doing more harm than good.
Rancid krill oil becomes a free radical. Like other free radicals, it is harmful to your health and may cause damage to your body at the cellular level. Research suggests that rancid krill oil may increase your risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and blood clots. When you consume rancid krill oil, your body must use its stores of antioxidants such as vitamin E to neutralize the rancid oil, leaving fewer of these resources available to your body for cellular repair and disease prevention.
DHA and EPA
Aside from the above dangers of consuming rancid products, rancid krill oil is actually less effective. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are polyunsaturated fats that our bodies need but cannot produce. Therefore, they must be consumed through food or supplements. There are two families of EFAs: omega-3 and omega-6, which need to be consumed in a balanced ratio. Within the omega-3 family, there are two important members that offer vital health benefits: DHA and EPA. Recommended by the American Heart Association, these main workhorses of the omega-3 family are highly susceptible to oxidation.
As the krill oil begins to oxidize, or become rancid, the potency of the DHA/EPA drops. Instead of providing heart protection, oxidized oils can actually increase the rate of atherosclerosis. This is why it is vital that your krill oil supplement is not only pure, but also has low oxidation levels.
There are hundreds of krill oils on the market. One of the easiest ways to prevent rancid krill oil is to examine the company’s manufacturing process. Capsules that are not sealed properly allow oxygen to quickly seep in, compromising the krill oil and your health. Look for a manufacturer that uses Licaps® technology. Licaps® is a patented technology for sealing of liquids in capsules called LEMS™ (Liquid Encapsulation Microspray Sealing). The unique technology ensures secure sealing which protects them from oxidation and becoming rancid.
- The Licaps® sealing is carried out in a nitrogen environment. The products contain a nitrogen bubble that guarantees their durability and good quality.
- Licaps® capsules protect the ingredients from oxygen and external influences – they reduce oxidation and improve hydro insulation. Deterioration of the ingredients and adverse interactions between them are prevented.
- After sealing, Licaps® capsules cannot be reopened and closed. This is a guarantee of fresh, clean and safe products for consumers.
A 2012 study in Norway found that 95% of 113 over-the-counter fish oil capsules were so rancid that they did not meet official quality standards. You owe it to yourself and your health to be an informed consumer.