On TV, in the news and in a variety of articles in magazines the importance of krill as a source of Omega 3 fatty acids is hard to miss. Most people have never heard of this tiny little shrimp like creature that forms such an important part of the food chain. Learning about these tiny creatures and how they are an essential part of life can help in understanding why this oil is so good for your health.
Krill are very tiny shelled marine life form that is found throughout the oceans of the world. Most krill oil is from the variety known as the Antarctic krill but can also be from the northern and pacific varieties.
Krill have an exoskeleton, like a shrimp. This shell is clear and gives them an almost shimmery appearance in the water. In addition they are bioluminescent, which means they actually create light in their bodies. They have along tail section, like a shrimp, and a smaller body and head. The animal has two antennae and multiple legs along their body. Legs are used for swimming as well as feeding and grooming.
Generally krill are very small, only about 0.4 to 0.8 inches in total length. However there are some species that can grow to be almost six inches in length.
Krill eat very small organisms in the water that can be plant or animal in nature. The majority of their food is phytoplankton which are small one celled algae known as diatoms. They are very rich in nutrient value having them in the diet allows them to concentrate this nutrition. They take in this rich source of nutrition through a filter system, trapping the single celled diatoms and small fish larvae and single celled animal organisms in their digestive system.
Krill is one of the bottom layers of the food chain for all types of marine animals and birds. Fish, seals, whales and marine birds feed on massive amounts of these tiny sea creatures. They gather in swarms when they feed, allowing the larger fish and birds to have access to huge numbers in a concentrated area of the ocean.
Humans also have traditionally consumed krill and it has been used as a food source for livestock for centuries in Russia and Japan. When used as human food the exoskeleton is removed and is used in dishes similar to small shrimp. For animal food the entire marine animal is processed and fed.
Krill oil has been developed into a supplement that is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Since the structure of the Omega 3 fatty acids in krill is more compatible with human digestion this is one of the richest sources of highly available Omega 3's on the market, showing marked benefits in a variety of clinical trials.