Is Krill A Spinal-Cord Cure-All?

I’ve been studying health and nutrition almost my entire life, and even I didn’t know about the power of the tiny sea creatures called krill at first. For years, no one knew much about them.

But they are a more potent source of protective omega-3 than fish, and have a much higher content of the most important omega-3 that we don’t get enough of, DHA. Even better, the DHA in krill penetrates into your cells better than omega-3 from other sources.

One of the reasons is that the fatty acids in krill oil are stored in a different biochemical form than fish oil. Krill store most of their fatty acids as phospholipids. These are much simpler to digest than the triglyceride form you find in fish.

But what puts the DHA from krill over the top in my book is that it can cross the blood brain barrier. You see, attached to each phospholipid in krill is a carotenoid called astaxanthin. It’s an extremely powerful antioxidant that can cross the blood-brain barrier. This allows krill DHA to penetrate into the cells of your brain and your nervous system.

Let me show you why this is important and how it can help you.

As I’ve continued studying the benefits of getting high amounts of DHA from krill oil, I found a new study out of Italy that shows DHA can stop inflammation in your spinal cord.1

Who hasn’t had some kind of back pain or nerve discomfort where your spine or your discs are bothering you?

And for people over 55, the most common cause of spine-weakening conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis is a spinal condition called cervical myelopathy.2 It can lead to difficulty walking, neck and arm pain, hand numbness, and weakness of the limbs.

Now, here comes DHA, and it can help.

In the study I just mentioned they gave DHA to mice with spinal cord injuries and listen to the long list of problems DHA prevented or healed:

  • Reduced spinal cord inflammation
  • Reduced tissue injury
  • Stopped production of pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • lowered nitrotyrosine formation (a marker of cell damage and inflammation)
  • Prevented cell death
  • Improved recovery of limb function
  • Lowered oxidative stress on nerve cells
  • Helped restart nerve cell growth.

In another animal study, only DHA and not the omega-3 EPA, reduced inflammation to the spinal cord.3

And in a study that looked at 21 men with spinal cord injuries, DHA helped them run farther and faster, and increase the strength in their limbs.4

DHA has a pretty impressive track record of beating inflammation. Every organ and system that gets DHA has reduced inflammation. Studies show it stamps out inflammation in the liver 5 and brain.6 And DHA especially reduces inflammation in the muscles and joints, particularly for people who exercise 7 and those who have arthritis.8

In fact, when I started taking a higher dose of DHA, the soreness and pain I usually have from an old Achilles injury disappeared in a few short days.

Besides krill, there are a few other ways to get more DHA into your diet, I recommend small, coldwater fatty fish like anchovies, herring, and sardines. If you’re going to eat salmon for its omega-3 and DHA content, make sure it’s wild-caught and not the farmed kind. Farmed salmon has too much omega-6 fat and not enough omega-3, the kind that includes DHA.

But, to really boost your DHA it’s best to supplement with krill oil. A study by a team of German scientists found that the “highest incorporation of …DHA [in the body]… was provoked by krill oil…” 9 In other words, krill oil is what boosts DHA levels the best.

Krill is even better when you combine it with maybe the most highly-concentrated source of DHA in the ocean we’ve found so far, calamari oil.

The problem always was, how do you get the calamari oil? Even if you eat calamari you’re not getting very high concentrations of oil. Technology has helped us solve that and now we can get high-DHA omega-3 from Squid that live in the pure waters of the Southern Pacific. After the oil is distilled it’s over 65% DHA – the highest concentration of DHA10 I’ve found yet.

Also, krill and calamari oil are in the absorbable phospholipid form, the form that can really get into all areas to relieve inflammation.

I recommend you get at least 1 gram of omega-3 every day, with 600 mg from DHA and 400 mg from its cousin EPA. That way you can soothe every organ and tissue in your body with the world’s most penetrating omega-3 and get all of DHA’s anti-inflammatory benefit.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD

1. Paterniti I, Impellizzeri D, et. al. “Docosahexaenoic acid attenuates the early inflammatory response following spinal cord injury in mice: in-vivo and in-vitro studies.” J Neuroinflammation. 2014;11:6.
2. Schmidt E. “Curry spice, omega-3 fatty acid preserve walking ability following spinal-cord injury.” UCLA Newsroon. June 26, 2012. 3. Hall J, et. al. “Docosahexaenoic acid, but not eicosapentaenoic acid, reduces the early inflammatory response following compression spinal cord injury in the rat.” J Neurochemistry, 2012;Volume 121, Issue 5, pages 738–750.
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9. Schuchardt J, et. al. “Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations – a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs. krill oil.” Lip H and Dis. 2011; 10: 145.
10. Hwang L, Liang J. “Fractionation of urea-pretreated squid visceral oil ethyl esters.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 2001, Volume 78, Issue 5, pp 473-476.