New Study Alert: Scientists Observe Positive Effects of Krill Oil in Horses

Aker BioMarine investigates if krill oil can boost the Omega-3 Index in horses

Oslo, June 21, 2023: In a pilot study, scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, in partnership with Aker BioMarine, found that Antarctic krill oil is well accepted and can effectively increase the Omega-3 Index in horses. A high Omega-3 Index is important for general health and particularly in horses struggling with inflammatory-driven conditions.

In this trial, the scientists aimed to uncover whether the krill oil was well accepted by horses as well as effective in improving the concentrations of omega-3 in the horse`s red blood cell membrane and thereby also in other vital body organs. Furthermore, they sought to improve the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, shifting the balance towards a more anti-inflammatory immune state.

The 35-day trial with five Norwegian Coldblood trotter horses revealed that a daily dose of krill oil can alter their fatty acid profile, creating a healthier balance of pro-inflammatory (omega-6) and anti-inflammatory (omega-3) fatty acids in the body.  

Testing the krill effect on the horses’ omega-3 index

Antarctic krill is well-documented as a safe and biologically available dietary ingredient that can deliver   EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. What sets krill oil apart from other marine sources of omega-3s is that these valuable nutrients are bound to phospholipids, which can seamlessly integrate into cell membranes, serving as efficient delivery molecules that influence health. Multiple studies indicate that EPA and DHA can benefit horses with metabolic syndrome, airway problems, joint and mobility issues, to mention some.  Utilizing the Omega-3 Index as a measurement for EPA and DHA levels represents a benchmark method for assessing the body’s omega-3 status. This is due to the strong correlation between the levels detected in red blood cell membranes, which align well with those found in organs.

“Our prior research encompassed dogs, cats, and humans, demonstrating the efficacy of krill oil supplementation, particularly due to its phospholipid form, to enhance the absorption of omega-3 fatty acids into cell membranes. This recent study expands our findings to include horses, revealing a significant enhancement in their Omega-3 Index during the feeding trial. Consequently, we can now confidently include horses as another species that responds favorably to krill inclusion in their diet.,” says Lena Burri, Director of R&D in Aker BioMarine and cowriter in the published article.

Setting up the study

The pilot study was conducted on-site at the Veterinary Sciences facility at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Ås, Norway. The five Norwegian Coldblood trotter horse geldings used in the trial belong to the University.

Over the course of 35-days, the horses were fed a standard diet that was supplemented with daily 10 ml/100 kg body weight of QRILL™ Pet PL Omega Plus Oil from Aker BioMarine. Blood samples were taken throughout the trial to measure the changes to the Omega-3 Index in the horses, as well as extended blood panel analysis to ensure safety and acceptance, with the final measurement conducted on day 35.

Key findings

  • The horses accepted the krill oil supplementation well and no adverse effects were observed.
  • The horses exhibited a gradual increase in the Omega-3 Index throughout the study, starting at very low levels (<0.5%) and increasing by more than 6 times up to 4%.
  • With the gradual increase in omega-3 fatty acid levels in the horses, the omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) levels decreased, resulting in a more anti-inflammatory immune state with krill oil supplementation.

More information on the study can be found here:

About QRILL™ Pet
QRILL™ Pet is a product of Aker BioMarine, a leading biotech innovator and Antarctic krill-harvesting company for consumer health and animal nutrition. The QRILL™ Pet product line consists of 3 products: PL NUTRI Plus (our flagship krill meal product) PL OMEGA Plus oil, and ASTA OMEGA Plus oil. When developing our functional marine ingredients for pets, we kept our focus on the needs of pets and pet food formulators. Aimed at keeping pets healthy, QRILL™ Pet is not only a superior omega-3 source but also contains a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin, natural choline, and palatable marine proteins.  The unique distinction of krill omega-3s is that they are mainly bound to phospholipids. This superior marine ingredient is beneficial for cats, dogs, and even horses at every life stage.