Krill oil, an alternative to fish oil, is quickly gaining popularity amongst supplement users. It’s made from krill, which is a small crustacean that is eaten by penguins, whales, and other sea creatures.
As with fish oil, it has lots of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – omega-3 fats that come from marine sources. They boast critical functions in the body, linked to many health benefits.
Some believe krill oil is even better than fish oil, but more research is needed. Still, it does have many health benefits. Check out these six benefits backed by science.
Source of Healthy Fats
Both fish oil and krill oil have omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. But studies suggest that fats in krill oil are easier for the body to utilize compared with those from fish oil. This is because most omega-3 fats found in fish oil are being stored as triglycerides.
However, a large portion of krill oil omega-3 fats take the form of molecules known as phospholipids. These are more easily absorbed into your bloodstream.
Some studies show that krill oil is more effective than its fish oil counterpart at increasing omega-3 levels, suggesting that different forms of omega-3 fats could be the reason.
Another study looked at the amounts of DHA and EPA in krill and fish oils, revealing that the oils were both just as effective at increasing omega-3 levels in the blood.
More research must be done to see whether or not krill oil is a more effective, bioavailable way of getting omega-3 fats over fish oil.
Krill oil is comprised of healthy fats, specifically omega-3 fats. These are easier to absorb than fish oil; however, additional studies need to be performed.
Omega-3 fatty acids introduce key anti-inflammatory functions in our bodies.
Krill oil can actually be more effective at combating inflammation as compared with other marine-based omega-3 sources. Why? It’s easier for our bodies to use.
Plus, krill oil boasts a pink-orange pigment known as astaxanthin, bringing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Many studies have explored the effects of krill oil on inflammation. One revealed that it lessened the creation of inflammation-causing molecules with the introduction of harmful bacteria in intestinal cells.
Another study of participants with slightly raised levels of blood fat revealed that consuming 1,000mg supplements of krill oil every day could improve an inflammation marker even better than taking 2,000 mgs of purified omega-3s daily.
Yet another study of those suffering from chronic inflammation revealed that consuming 300 mg of krill oil every day is enough to lower an inflammation marker by 30 percent after one month of use.
Only a handful of studies looking into krill oil and inflammation have been done, but the results are promising.
Krill oil boasts inflammation-fighting omega-3 fats and astaxanthin, an antioxidant. Not many studies have looked into the effects of krill oil in regards to inflammation, but the results look beneficial.
Reduction of Arthritis and Joint Pain
Because krill oil helps reduce inflammation, it can also help with arthritis symptoms as well as joint pain, which originates from inflammation.
One study said krill oil reduces an inflammation marker and also reduces stiffness, pain and functional impairment in those with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Another study of 50 people with mild to moderate knee pain revealed that consuming krill oil for a month greatly lowered people’s pain while standing or sleeping, while increasing range of motion.
Researchers studied how krill oil affected mice with arthritis. When given krill oil, the mice experienced an improvement in arthritis scores, fewer inflammatory joint cells and less swelling.
More studies need to be done to bolster these results, but it looks like krill oil is a beneficial supplemental treatment for joint pain and arthritis.
Many animal and human studies reveal that consuming krill oil supplements improves arthritis and joint pain symptoms.
Improvement in Blood Lipids and Heart Health
Omega-3 fats, and EPA and DHA specifically, are heart-healthy.
Research shows that fish oil improves blood lipid levels, while krill oil is just as effective. Studies show krill oil is especially effective when it comes to lowering levels of triglycerides as well as other blood fats.
One study looked at the effects of krill oil and omega-3s on triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Krill oil elevated the “good” (HDL) cholesterol and was effective at lowering a marker of inflammation, even with a lower dose. In contrast, the omega-3s were better at reducing triglycerides.
Other studies show that krill oil is effective at reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides, and could increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
Still another study comparing krill oil to olive oil revealed that krill oil vastly improved scores of insulin resistance, along with the functioning of the blood vessel linings.
Additional long-term studies are necessary to see how krill oil impacts heart disease risk. But so far, the evidence shows it’s effective at boosting some known risk factors.
Studies show that krill oil, like other omega-3 fat sources, may improve blood lipid levels as well as other heart disease risk factors.
Management of PMS Symptoms
Eating omega-3 fats can decrease pain and inflammation associated with PMS.
Many studies show that consuming omega-3 or fish oil supplements may lessen period pain as well as the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), enough to lower the use of pain meds.
Krill oil, which has the same kinds of omega-3 fats, is thought to be just as effective.
One study comparing the effects of krill and fish oils in females with PMS found that both supplements offered improvements in symptoms. However, the women who took the krill oil used a lot less pain medication than those who took the fish oil.
This shows that krill oil is as effective – at least – as other sources of omega-3 fats when it comes to improving PMS symptoms.
Studies show that omega-3 fats can improve period pain as well as PMS. Just one study has looked at the effects of krill oil when it comes to PMS, but it showed promising results.
Easy Routine Addition
It’s easy to take a krill oil supplement in an effort to boost EPA and DHA intake. Krill oil is easy to get at stores and online, as well as most pharmacies. The capsules are usually smaller than fish oil capsules and don’t lead to as much belching or fishy aftertastes.
Krill oil is a more sustainable option than fish oil, as krill are abundant and can reproduce quickly. Krill oil also has astaxanthin, unlike fish oil. That being said, krill oil is more expensive.
Health organizations recommend taking 250 to 500 mg a day of DHA and EPA together.
More studies are necessary before a krill oil dosage that’s ideal for everyone can be suggested. Follow all package instructions and speak with your doctor. Just don’t exceed 5,000 mg of DHA and EPA together a day, whether you get it from your diet or supplements.
There are certain groups of people who should not take krill oil, or at least without consulting with their doctors first. Those who take blood thinners, those who are preparing for surgery, or those who are breastfeeding or pregnant should not take it.
Why? Omega-3 fats have an anti-clotting effect when taken at high doses, even though the evidence we have right now doesn’t suggest this would be harmful. No studies have been done on the safety of krill oil for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Also, don’t take krill oil if you suffer from a seafood allergy.
Krill oil capsules can be found everywhere, and they are smaller than fish oil capsules. Follow the dosage recommendations you see on the package.
Krill oil supplements are a popular alternative to fish oil, offering unique benefits such as antioxidants, a smaller dosage, sustainable sourcing and not as many side effects. However, more studies will have to be done to determine health effects and ideal doses.
So far, though, research shows that krill oil is a good source of omega-3 fats backed by many science-based benefits.
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