By Michael Richman, MD, FACS
In my last article, I wrote about the HS- Omega-3 Index. In simple terms, this index is a measure of the amount of the two major omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), in the membrane of a red blood cell. The HS-Omega-3 Index has many features that qualify it as not only a biomarker of omega-3 intake, but also as a cardiovascular risk marker and, most importantly, a risk factor and target for therapy. Substantial evidence suggests that correcting an omega-3 insufficiency by increasing the omega-3 index reduces coronary heart disease risk and this can be accomplished quickly, safely, and inexpensively.
People often ask what brand of omega-3 fatty acid is the best to consume, and whether they should take krill oil instead to raise their EPA and DHA levels. I have talked before about how not all brands of omega-3 fatty acids are equal in terms of the amounts of EPA/DHA in each 1000 mg capsule and one needs to be an educated consumer before buying any brand. The easiest way to determine whether krill oil is better is to understand one simple fact: The industry producing these supplements is not well regulated and anyone can make any claim about a product. Many people say that krill oil is the best way to get omega-3 fatty acids, but krill oil is more expensive than the standard omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Although there is some evidence that krill oil many increase omega-3 levels more efficiently, it is at very best only two times more effective than standard omega-3 fatty acid pills. Considering the much higher price for krill oil, the potentially small increase in bioavailability may not be worth it. Until data exists comparing fish oil to krill oil on intermediate markers of risk and actual disease endpoints, it will be difficult to say one is better than the other.