Krill oil is a type of marine oil derived from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans, known as krill. It contains some of the most popular and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) also contained in fish oil.
In the recent past, krill oil has become a popular alternative to regular fish oil, thanks to its faster absorption rates and a rich composition of natural health-promoting nutrients.
Although krill oil contains fatty acids similar to fish oil, it’s easily differentiated due to its unique appearance and superior chemical composition and structure.
Unlike fish oil and other omega-3 supplements that are typically yellowish, krill oil is red in color.
Some of the unique nutrients in krill oil that make it superior to other fish oil and other omega-3 supplement alternatives are discussed below.
|Phospholipids||An essential barrier on the cell membrane that regulates the communication and transportation of molecules across the membrane.|
|Choline||It is necessary for optimal health and normal bodily function.|
|Astaxanthin||It’s responsible for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of Antarctic krill oil and the red pigmentation of the oil.|
We’ll get into the details and functions of each of these nutrients as we discuss the health benefits of krill oil for your body and mind.
1. EASILY ABSORBED BY THE BODY
Krill oil has an added advantage over fish oil because EPA and DHA fatty acids are easily absorbed and used by the body. This is because the fatty acids in krill oil are in the form of phospholipids, which require a simpler digestive process compared to triglycerides in fish oil.
As a result, your body more readily and effectively absorbs most of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, allowing you to take a lower dose of EPA and DHA than required for fish oil.
A study conducted over 72 hours confirms this phenomenon. How? The healthy volunteers of the study were administered with either fish or krill oil. The results at the end of the study show that krill oil was absorbed faster than fish oil.
Even better, krill oil is available in small soft gels of about 500 mg making it more tolerable for most people.
Besides, you don’t need to worry about the fishy aftertaste, reflux, or belching you often experience when taking supplements containing fish oil because it’s well-absorbed.
2. REDUCES ARTHRITIS AND JOINT PAIN
Omega-3 fatty acids have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can effectively prevent or reduce inflammation. These also improve inflammation experienced as a result of certain conditions, including chronic inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, chronic joint pain, and fibromyalgia.
The omega-3 in krill oil subdues molecules that cause inflammation and triggers the secretion of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
When compared to other fish oil supplements, taking krill oil supplements reduces inflammation to a greater degree because of the presence of astaxanthin.
A PLOS One study involved 50 patients with mild knee pain administered with 2 g/d of placebo or dietary krill oil supplementation for 30 days. The study concluded that krill oil protects your body against the subjective symptoms of osteoarthritis or mild knee pain better than the placebo supplements.
3. IMPROVES HEART HEALTH
EPA and DHA omega-3 fats are good for supporting overall heart health and reducing heart attack and coronary heart disease risk. Typically, you can get these same benefits by consuming the recommended eight ounces of seafood weekly.
However, when that’s not possible, you can turn to krill oil capsules, which will enhance your cardiovascular health in the following ways:
- Lowering triglyceride levels which are significant cardiovascular risk factors and common causes of heart disease
- Reducing levels of LDL cholesterol—low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol—high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol
- Boosting insulin resistance scores
- Mitigating inflammation in the blood vessels
In addition to these common heart health benefits, the omega-3 fats contained in krill oil cause blood thinning. The blood-thinning effects of krill oil inhibit blood clotting in the arteries that when not controlled may cause strokes and heart attacks.
As a precautionary measure, you should seek your doctor's advice before hopping on krill oil supplements while still on blood-thinning medications.
4. HELPS MANAGE PMS SYMPTOMS
Approximately 75% of all women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) during certain times of their menstrual cycle. The physical and psychiatric symptoms of the condition vary among individuals, but oftentimes it affects your everyday life.
PMS is caused by changes in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. For many years, women turn to exercise, dietary changes, medications, and supplements to relieve the symptoms of PMS.
Among the most popular dietary supplements used are omega-3 supplements, which prove to help with the management of both psychiatric and physical premenstrual symptoms.
How? Omega-3 derived from krill oil helps regulate or balance the hormones, prevent blood clotting, and reduce inflammation.
Additionally, EPA and DHA help your brain to produce more serotonin which takes a plunge during your PMS period due to reduced estrogen levels. More serotonin in your system improves brain cell function and helps to manage common PMS symptoms, such as mood swings, insomnia, and depression.
Not to forget that krill oil has essential anti-inflammatory properties, which combats PMS pain.
Omega-3s also facilitate the production of good prostaglandins, which hampers the production of pain-causing chemicals.
5. IMPROVES REPRODUCTIVE HORMONE LEVELS AND SEMEN QUALITY
Omega-3 and omega-6 make a significant part of the sperm cell membrane. DHA is a part of the cell membrane phospholipids, and it’s vital for optimal sperm performance because it acts as a binding agent for the acrosome building blocks.
The acrosome is responsible for carrying enzymes that break down the walls of the ovum to facilitate egg fertilization. DHA also determines sperm fluidity, flexibility, and movement.
DHA deficiency and sperm damage resulting from high levels of oxidative stress are key causes of male reproductive health problems, like infertility and subfertility.
Krill oil supplements contain the necessary nutrients, including high levels of DHA and astaxanthin, which can correct these conditions and improve male productivity.
A study by the University of Southern Denmark involving approximately 1700 healthy Danish men tested the beneficial effects of fish oil supplements, featuring the same health benefits as krill, on their reproductive health.
Results from the study reveal that the men who took fish oil for less than 60 days saw a 0.8 ml increase in testicular size while those who took the nutritional supplements for 60 days or more experienced a 15 ml increase in testicular size.
It was also apparent that the participants who took the omega-3 supplements have superior sperm quality and higher testosterone levels.
Tina Kold Jessen, the lead researcher of the study, states that although fertility wasn’t tested during the study, the above-mentioned factors have a direct impact on improving overall fertility in young men.
Many researchers support this study but insist that it takes time and consistency to significantly improve male fertility using omega-3 supplements.
6. IMPROVES BRAIN FUNCTIONS
Fatty fish is essential for optimal brain development and cognitive health. The EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids are critical for the healthy development and function of the brain at all life stages.
EPA is an effective mood enhancer that reduces the inflammatory processes in the brain. While DHA regulates your mood by boosting the production of the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) as well as increasing serotonin and dopamine levels, which also help to alleviate depression.
Our brains depend on these essential fatty acids to facilitate communication between brain cells and preserve cell membrane health. As a result, low levels of DHA in the blood have been found to decrease brain size, accelerate brain aging, and negatively affect learning and memory capabilities.
Research shows that omega-3 supplements improve brain function in people suffering from mild brain conditions, like age-related cognitive decline and mild cognitive decline. Evidence suggests that the effects of krill oil and other omega-3 supplements are most beneficial to people who take them in the early stages of brain decline.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT ARE OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS?
Omega-3's are essential fatty acids, meaning your body is unable to naturally produce them on its own and you must get them from your diet.
Studies have shown that diets rich in Omega-3's help reduce inflammation, increase your beneficial HDL and reduce harmful triglycerides, delay the rate of brain aging and atrophy, and slow the rate of attrition of telomeres, a well-known marker for aging.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OMEGA-3'S?
- Reduce tissue-damaging inflammation
- Increase the "good" cholesterol HDL
- Lowers triglyceride levels
- Improves cell membrane fluidity
- Helps with brain aging and atrophy
- Slows the rates of attrition of telomeres - a well-known marker for aging
CAN I USE KRILL OIL WITH OTHER SUPPLEMENTS?
Yes, Krill Oil can be added to your normal supplement routine.
CAN I BE ALLERGIC TO KRILL OIL?
Yes, if you have an existing crustacean allergy, chances are you will be allergic to krill oil.
We recommend you speak with your physician regarding krill oil if you have any seafood allergies.
IS KRILL OIL SUSTAINABLE?
Antarctic Krill, Euphausia Superba, are tiny crustaceans found in the Antarctic Ocean and are known for their omega-3 fatty acids. They make up an estimated biomass of around 379 million tonnes, more than the biomass global population of humans, and are viewed as one of the most sustainable forms of fishing.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) manages the krill fisheries and has set a limit of a sustainable harvest at 5.6 million tonnes annually.
However, the CCAMLR has a set “trigger” level of 620,000 tonnes that represents approximately 1% of the estimated 60 million tonnes of krill in this region.
Current krill fishing is far below the limit, around 200,000 tonnes and about .02 percent of the total biomass, less than half of the trigger level.
Because of the abundance of Krill, and the tight management of fisheries, Krill is viewed as a more sustainable resource than fish oil.
DOES THE SOURCE OF OMEGA-3 MATTER?
Animal sources like Krill and Fish are high in DHA and EPA.
The short lifespans of krill lessen the potential for mercury contamination, PCBs, and other toxins, unlike the longer lifespans of fish which increases the risk of contamination.
Foods like flax, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts contain the omega-3 in the less desirable form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid).
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF KRILL OIL COMPARE TO FISH OIL?
- Krill oil omega-3's have greater bioavailability than fish oil because they are attached to phospholipids which makes it easier for the small intestines to absorb.
- Krill oil's variety of DHA is preferred by your brain.
- Krill oil contains the unique antioxidant Astaxanthin, which is not found in fish oil.
- Krill oil is sourced from the Southern Hemisphere, a pristine environment, ensuring less potential of toxins and contamination.
- Fish oil is heavily processed via Molecular Distillation to remove pollutants like mercury and alters the composition into an ethyl ester form which are less bioavailable.
WHERE CAN I GET KRILL OIL SUPPLEMENTS
Krill oil supplements can be found in your local grocery, health, and supplement stores.
If you're looking for high-quality krill oil that you can trust, look for supplements from reputable brands that use natural ingredients, no added fillers, and zero artificial ingredients.