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Krill Oil: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, And Precautions

Krill oil is popularized as a substitute for fish oil and is extracted from krill, a tiny shrimp-like animal. It is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and is mostly available as supplements (capsules). From combating inflammation to improving heart and skin health, krill oil has numerous benefits to offer. Above all, it may also improve your body’s metabolic rate and promote weight loss.

This article explores the health benefits of krill oil, how it works, the safety precautions to consider, and its potential side effects. Read further.

What Is Krill Oil?

Krills are tiny crustaceans similar to shrimps. These belong to the Euphausia superba species that resemble the Antarctic krill family.

These live in colder ocean waters and are a staple for many animals like whales and penguins.

Krill oil is a dietary supplement usually made from processed krill. It contains phosphatidylcholine (phospholipid-derived fatty acid) and omega-3 fatty acids similar to those in fish oil.

Krill oil has important benefits. Here, we bring to you a list of the seven science-backed health benefits of krill oil.

8 Science-Backed Krill Oil Benefits

1. May Reduce Inflammation

Krill oil contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Astaxanthin prevents oxidative damage and reduces the production of inflammation-causing molecules in human cells. A study found that krill oil is more effective than fish oil in reducing severe intestinal inflammation and pain in mice. It is said to improve epithelial barrier and increase cell survival (1),(2).

2. May Promote Cardiovascular Health

Krill oil contains essential omega-3 fatty acids that may promote cardiovascular health. The oil was found to decrease total cholesterol levels (including the bad LDL cholesterol) and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. A high dose of krill oil was also shown to decrease triglyceride (a type of fat) levels in the blood (3). However, the cardiovascular benefits of krill oil remain unproven and need further research. Another study suggests that this oil may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, specifically endothelial dysfunction, in patients with type 2 diabetes (4).

As stated, krill oil may help lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. According to a study, this oil may effectively manage hyperlipidemia (high fat levels in the blood) by reducing total cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels, and increasing HDL levels. In fact, krill oil was found to be more effective than fish oil in lowering glucose, triglyceride, and LDL levels (5).

However, the cardiovascular benefits of krill oil need further research.

3. May Reduce Arthritis Pain

Krill oil offers substantial anti-inflammatory protection. It protects cartilage (soft tissue in the joints) from damage and may potentially treat osteoarthritis (6),(7). A study indicates that administering krill oil (2 g/day for 30 days) may reduce mild knee pain in adults and reduce stiffness (8). Moreover, rats supplemented with krill oil experienced lower arthritis scores and reduced hind paw swelling (9).

4. May Help Manage PMS

Krill oil (rich in omega-3 fatty acids) may significantly reduce dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods) and the emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. It is shown to be more effective than omega-3 fish oil in the management of PMS (10).

5. May Promote Skin Texture

Several studies support the health benefits of omega-3 phospholipids for skin (11). Consuming krill oil may improve skin texture, thanks to its astaxanthin content. Astaxanthin has powerful antioxidant activity, and its unique properties may help treat and prevent skin diseases. Further, this oil enhances the elasticity, hydration, and topography of the skin (12).

6. May Help Treat Dry Eye

Researchers found that consuming krill oil for about three months may alleviate dry eye symptoms like redness and unstable tear films. Consuming phospholipid, a form of omega-3 fatty acid present in krill oil, was found to reduce tear osmolarity and increase tear stability in people with dry eye (13).

7. May Promote Weight Loss

Consuming krill oil may help accelerate metabolism. Supplementing it in mice fed a high-fat diet for 10 weeks was found to reduce weight gain. Intake of this oil may also potentially help with weight loss (14).

Krill oil is rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. But how do they act to exert beneficial effects on your body? Keep scrolling to know.

How Does Krill Oil Work?

The fatty acids in krill oil are similar to those found in fish oil. These fats may reduce swelling, lower cholesterol, and make blood platelets less sticky. Blood platelets are less likely to clot when they are less sticky.

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (found commonly in fatty fish like salmon, herring, and trout) effectively lower plasma triglyceride levels (TG). Several mechanisms contribute to the overproduction of TG, but one of the most important factors is the increased availability of fatty acid in the liver. The liver obtains fatty acid from dietary sources, de novo lipogenesis (a metabolic pathway), and circulating non-esterified FAs (NEFAs) or free fatty acids. Krill oil intake reduces the rate at which very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) is synthesized in the liver.

NEFAs contribute the largest fraction to VLDL-TG production. Consuming krill oil may reduce NEFAs in the liver. This oil also counteracts the lipolytic release of NEFAs from adipose tissue by suppressing inflammation. Besides, it increases fatty acid uptake and oxidation in the adipose, heart, and skeletal muscles (15).

Krill oil is generally safe for most people when consumed in moderation. However, it may show a few undesirable side effects in some people (16). Continue reading to know them.

Krill Oil Side Effects

1. Stomach Upset

Anecdotal evidence suggests that consuming large amounts of krill oil may cause abdominal cramps and stomach ache. Its high-fat content may also trigger indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. The adverse taste of krill oil also results in fishy burps.

2. Decreased Appetite

Consuming krill oil may reduce appetite. Its effect on digestion may lead to nausea, which reduces satiety. However, quality research is warranted in this aspect.

3. Bloating

Consuming krill oil on an empty stomach may increase the risk of bloating. Gas forms in the stomach when the fatty acids present in krill oil stimulate gastric acid secretion. As a result, your body may bloat and gasp.

4. Diarrhea

Consuming high amounts of krill oil or its supplements may cause diarrhea. The same was observed when omega-3 fatty acid supplements were consumed in excess. People complain about loose stools after adding krill oil to their diets. However, diarrhea may also result from an allergic reaction or exposure to contaminated or expired oil.

Most of these side effects subside on their own once you reduce or stop the intake of krill oil. Consult your doctor if any of these symptoms become severe.

Let us understand what safety precautions you must consider before consuming krill oil.

Special Precautions And Warnings

  • Follow the directions on the label or those given by your doctor when taking krill oil.
  • Do not take it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended.
  • Do not take it if you have a seafood allergy.
  • Avoid using it during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Consult your doctor for more information.
  • Check with your doctor before taking the oil if you have bleeding disorders or are taking other medications or supplements.
  • Check the label for any other active or inactive ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction.

How does krill oil compare with fish oil? Here are a few differences that you should know.

Krill Oil Vs. Fish Oil: Key Differences

Krill Oil Fish Oil
Derived from tiny crustaceans Extracted from fatty fish
Contains omega-3 fatty acids and astaxanthin (antioxidant) Contains omega-3
fatty acids
Contains EPA and DHA as phospholipids and triglycerides Contains EPA and DHA mainly as triglycerides
Cheaper Very expensive

The Takeaway

Krill oil has quickly gained popularity as an alternative to fish oil. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contains astaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant). Consuming this oil may help reduce inflammation, promote heart health, manage PMS symptoms, and relieve arthritis pain. Besides, this oil may also promote weight loss and skin health, and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Krill oil, however, may cause certain side effects when taken in large quantities. These include stomach upset, bloating, fishy burps, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. Follow the precautions mentioned above before including krill oil in your diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is krill oil better than fish oil for omega-3?

Yes, krill oil is better than fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids.

When should I take krill oil?

Take krill oil in the morning along with food. It helps increase the absorption of DHA and EPA (omega-3 fatty acids).

Should I take krill oil every day?

Taking this oil every day in smaller quantities is good. However, a higher dose may lead to certain side effects.

Does krill oil make you smell?

Yes, you may exert a bad odor from the mouth during krill oil consumption. But, it is lesser than that of fish oil.

References:

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Anti-pain and anti-inflammation-like effects of Neptune krill oil and fish oil against carrageenan-induced inflammation in mice models: Current status and pilot study
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6488718/
  2. Krill oil reduces intestinal inflammation by improving epithelial integrity and impairing adherent-invasive Escherichia coli pathogenicity
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26493628/
  3. Krill Oil for Cardiovascular Risk Prevention: Is It for Real?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4252213/
  4. Effects of krill oil on endothelial function and other cardiovascular risk factors in participants with type 2 diabetes a randomized controlled trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4611487/
  5. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15656713/
  6. Antarctic Krill Oil Ameliorates Monosodium Iodoacetate-Induced Irregularities in Articular Cartilage and Inflammatory Response in the Rat Models of Osteoarthritis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33233504/
  7. Effects of different omega-3 sources fish oil krill oil and green-lipped mussel against cytokine-mediated canine cartilage degradation
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28078500/
  8. Krill Oil Improves Mild Knee Joint Pain: A Randomized Control Trial
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27701428/
  9. Supplementation of diet with krill oil protects against experimental rheumatoid arthritis
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907316/
  10. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12777162/
  11. Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20620762/
  12. Astaxanthin in Skin Health Repair and Disease: A Comprehensive Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946307/
  13. A Randomized Double-Masked Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of Two Forms of Omega-3 Supplements for Treating Dry Eye Disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27817918/
  14. Krill Oil Supplementation Improves Dyslipidemia and Lowers Body Weight in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet Through Activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27982752/
  15. Fish oil – how does it reduce plasma triglycerides?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3563284/
  16. Prospective randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study on safety and tolerability of the krill powder product in overweight subjects with moderately elevated blood pressure
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30572894/

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