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Does Krill Oil Have Any Health Benefits

Updated on July 16, 2014

Krill Oil in a Nutshell

Krill oil is rapidly becoming more popular as a supplemented source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Similar in properties to fish oil, krill derived oil is far superior and has several fundamental benefits to the human body that fish oils do not. It can help with symptoms of depression, improve your mood and is good for your eyesight and could reduce the risk of heart disease.

There is a risk of krill oil interacting with anti-coagulant medication and pregnant women should consult their physician before including krill oil in their diet.

I always thought that krill was just whale food (having seen whales devour them by the million, in dozens of wildlife programs) and in it's dried form, I've seen the tubs of fish food you can buy in tubs at the local pet store. It wasn't until I was lucky enough to come across a bottle of krill oil capsules that I realized we (humans) could consume them, and that they are in fact, very good for your health and general well-being. And having never been to Japan, I would never have thought that they are also a delicacy (known as okiami). But that information is an article left for another day I think!

Krill oil has similar properties to fish oil, but as you will discover later in this article, krill oil is vastly richer, and contains higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids per the same volume of fish oil.

Where is Krill Oil From?

Fished in three different oceans around the world, krill is said to be the biggest biomass on the planet, with five hundred million tonnes living in the Antarctic ocean alone. 'Euphausia superba' is the species native to the Antarctic or Southern ocean, 'Euphausia pacifica' is found in the North Pacific between Japan and Canada and 'northern krill', or Meganyctiphanes norvegica, is found in the North Atlantic.

What Are Krill and What Makes Them So Good?

They are shrimp like creatures that thrive at the bottom of the food chain. They feed on plankton, or phytoplankton to be more precise, which in tiny quantities is invisible to the human eye. In larger masses, it is looks like the ocean is green. They 'swarm' in concentrations of between ten thousand to thirty thousand in number, per cubic meter.

Krill are the primary food source of many larger ocean creatures, from finfish (salmon, herring and hake) to the biggest of whales. Whilst the largest amount of harvested krill are used for feeding farmed fish, they are also becoming more popular as a nutritional supplement.

Krill Oil Nutrition Facts

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) (1)
  • PLFA (Phospholipid-derived fatty acids)(2)
  • Astaxanthin (3)

Krill oil contains a very high potency of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which is one of the reasons why they are so good for your health. It also contains high levels of Phospholipids (PLFA's), which are again very good for your body (because they they 're-enforce' your bodies natural cell membranes).

And Astaxanthin is a natural antioxidant, which means this oil can protect your bodies cells and tissue from free radicals (the byproducts in the atmosphere around us). Krill and other crustaceans, like lobster, get their pinkish-red color from Astaxanthin, which occurs because of the algae they eat.

What are Essential Fatty Acids?

Essential fatty acids (EFA's) are also called, polyunsaturated or good fats. There are two types of essential fatty acids that our body needs for it to function normally. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot produce them so we have a fundamental need to either get these fats from our food or to consume them in supplement form.

The first and less important EFA is Omega-6 (linoleic acid), and unfortunately while we do need this in our diet, most of us consume way too much of it (from processed foods and cooking oils) which contributes to the causes of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (plus many more health conditions). The more important EFA is called Omega-3 (also known as Alpha linolenic acid), and the reverse is often true - we lack an adequate amount of this fatty acid in our diet. In fact, Western civilization consume approximately a ration of 10 to 1 - Omega-6 to Omega-3. Where this ratio should be more like 3 to 1.

When they were originally discovered (in 1923), they were first dubbed 'vitamin F', but their name was later changed to 'fats' because of the way they behave.

Omega-3 EFA's Have Endless Healing Power

  • Help to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Improve cellular function
  • Help mood and symptoms of depression
  • Could reduce symptoms of arthritis
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Decrease risk of heart disease
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve brain function (concentration)
  • Improve eyesight
  • Reduce stress
  • Boost hormone levels

Some of the these benefits are 'unproven' in laboratory studies as yet, but that is not to say that they do not exist. There are numerous cases, thousands in fact, reporting wonderful healing properties of krill oil. This is just another case of 'authoritative bodies' not willing to invest more time and money on research into alternative or natural remedies. Instead, doctors and governments advise us to use over the counter medications that not only cost a fortune, but can often cause further problems! Doesn't make sense, does it?

Why is Omega-3 'Essential' to Our Body?

During any given day, our bodies are breaking down cells, we are placing stress on our joints merely by walking up a flight of stairs and our internal organs, like the blood vessels and veins that are transporting nutrients around our body in the blood. Or bodies are in a constant state of suffering 'wear and tear', which is why the nutrition we get from a balanced diet is so important to us. This 'stress' on your is just what you do on a daily basis from the time you wake up in the morning, to the time you go to bed. You cannot avoid it.

So essential fatty acids help to reduce the stress, wear and tear or inflammation in these areas which aids the repairing cell process. We also need a constant input of EFA's for kidney and liver function.

But that is not all that fatty acids do in our body, which you will discover throughout this site.

What is the Difference Between Krill Oil and Fish Oil?

The fish oil's you will find in the little supplement tubs are usually from the highest fish sources of essential fatty acids.

  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel

These contain lesser amounts of EFA's:

  • Swordfish
  • Halibut
  • Flounder
  • Pollock
  • Tuna
  • Snapper

You may have already known some of these facts, but something will probably not have known is that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not recommend eating fish like swordfish, white meat tuna (albacore) and king mackerel, in any great quantity because they may contain high levels of toxins and pollutants like mercury, PCB's (Polychlorinated biphenyl), dioxin and chlordane.

Fish oil contains similar compounds as krill oil, but has nowhere near the strength as krill derived oils. In fact, the more studies that are being carried out on krill oil, so the list of health benefits it has, gets longer and longer.

The following is a short list of properties/functions, that krill oil has, that fish oil does not have.

  1. Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  2. Help boost your metabolism (aiding liver glucose breakdown)
  3. Improve your mitochondrial respiratory chain (chemistry of your cellular make up)
  4. Increases the metabolism of lipids

Aside from improving the make up of your cells, the other three in that list refer to breaking down and regulating various types of fat in your body. So can now see that krill oil is far more superior than fish oil? It is very good for your overall health because it directly affects your heart and blood system. It does a very good job of protecting you from heart disease and is absorbed quicker by your body, than fish oil is.

Krill Oil Studies and Research

The most recent study I could find compared the effectiveness of krill oil to that of fish oil. Although the study was carried out on male mice, the results were conclusive that krill oil has a significantly greater effect on animal tissue and would be more protective against heart disease. You can read more about this study here on pubmed.

Another article published from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, controversially said that although almost five hundred people took part in three separate studies, and results showed that;

  • Krill oil did reduce arthritis symptoms
  • Krill oil was superior to fish oil for helping women see relief from premenstrual syndrome
  • Krill oil significantly reduced blood lipid levels, compared to fish oil

The article precluded that tens of thousands of studies have been carried out on fish oil, compared only a handful on krill oil, and there should be the same amount of clinical studies to provide more solid evidence.

I don't know about you, but knowing that a high percentage of five hundred people have seen reduced symptoms and have had improvements in their health, this is plenty for me and my family, when we know there are no dangerous side effects.

Krill Oil Side Effects

There is one side effect of fish oil, that krill oil does NOT have. And that is that it does not cause 'gassy expulsions' from your mouth, like fish oil does!

Possible side effects to krill oil are minimal. You may experience loose stools or diarrhea, or even some indigestion. But unless you have allergies to seafood, you will probably never have a problem.

WARNING - You Should Not Take Krill Oil if You Are Currently Taking Blood Thinning Medication

(The effects of krill oil may interact with other medications).

Or, you should at least refrain from taking it until you have spoken to your doctor about the possible implications. Krill oil is a natural anti-coagulant, which means that it thins your blood and could make your blood too thin, if you take it with medicines such as warfarin (coudamin), heparin or other drugs like anti-inflammatories.

Also, if you are a pregnant woman, although some sources recommend taking Omega-3 fatty acid, you should consult your doctor or a medical professional before taking krill oil.

Do you already take an omega-3 supplement?

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Instructions for Taking Krill Oil

  1. It is better to take krill oil on an empty stomach.
  2. Never take krill oil (or any other form of omega-3) within 4 hours of drinking alcohol.
  3. Don't take krill oil with high fructose drinks.

Author Information

Andy is a health and nutrition 'amateur' scientist. He seeks out natural alternatives to over the counter medications, which are often dangerous, and experiments with them to see if they actually work. Krill oil is one of those natural medicines that deserves credit, because it has helped Andy a lot, both with dramatically reducing depressive symptoms and improving blood flow to the whole of his body. You can find out more about Andy on Google+, and discover more information about krill oil on our krill oil Google plus page.

References:

  1. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phospholipid-derived_fatty_acids
  3. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/astaxanthin

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  • Frank Atanacio profile image

    Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

    a very useful hub... packed with information voted up and useful

  • krillfishhealing profile image
    Author

    Andy James 2 years ago from London

    @Frank Atanacio Thanks for the message.

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