Krill oil has been creating headlines and attracting people’s attention over the past few years. You could say that this tiny sea creature is fast becoming huge in the health world!
With the clinical revelations which have recently come to the forefront, health and nutrition experts believe krill oil could be a fresh alternative to introduce omega 3s into your life.
If you want to experience the benefits of krill oil for yourself, it can be hard to know where to start – there are so many different brands filling the shelves. In this article I’m going to discuss what to look out for and how to choose the best krill oil supplement.
What is Krill Oil?
The term “krill” originated from the norwegian word of “kril” meaning “fry of fish”. (source)
Krill is a tiny crustacean which looks very much like a shrimp. Despite the fact that they are small in size, they play a big role in maintaining balance in the aquatic ecosystem.
Krill are primarily a source of food for whales and marine life in the cold ocean waters around Canada, Antarctica and Japan.
Euphausia superba, otherwise known as Antarctic krill are among the largest in the krill species and can congregate in immense numbers.
The oil is extracted from these little creatures and provides the basis of what we find in supplements.
Krill oil consists of the omega 3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The extensive health benefits of EPA and DHA have been clinically proven.
Last but by no means least, krill incorporates phospholipid fatty acids
which could allow for better absorption of DHA and EPA in the body. You’ll also find a carotenoid compound called astaxanthin for antioxidant fighting free radical benefits.
How Could Krill Oil Supplements Help You?
According to US government dietary guidelines “consumption of about 8 ounces per week of seafood should provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA which is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing CVD.” (source)
Endless clinical research has documented the positive effects of omega 3s EPA and DHA “good” fatty acids on cardiovascular health.
Nonetheless, krill oil does have healthy heart benefits based on its own merits too.
High cholesterol levels means you have too much fat in your blood. This is a cause for concern as it increases your risk of developing further cardiovascular illnesses.
The US Preventive Task Force (USPSTF) recommends “men who are 35 and older or women over the age of 45 with an increased risk of coronary heart disease should go and get screened for lipid disorders”. (source)
Research suggests that krill oil is particularly useful when it comes to reducing cholesterol. Interestingly, it is even more effective than fish oil.
To assess the effects of krill oil on cholesterol levels, a three month study was conducted.
Volunteers were split into four groups and administered different variations:
Group A – Krill oil – daily dosage of 2 to 3 g
Group B – Krill oil – daily dosage of 1 to 1.5 g
Group C – Fish oil – daily dosage of 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA
Group D – Placebo
The results found that group A had the most noticeable positive result. It follows that a daily dosage of 2 to 3 grams of krill oil is the most effective method for the reduction of glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL, compared to both fish oil and placebo. (source)
Another contributing factor in lowering cholesterol levels could be due to the antioxidant astaxanthin in krill, a beneficial compound found in krill oil but generally missing from fish oils.
This carotenoid is also responsible for giving the crustacean its pink color.
Research indicates that astaxanthin could increase the “good” HDL cholesterol levels in the body. (source)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of all americans (47%) have one of the three risk factors for heart disease, which are: (source)
High blood pressure
There is good reason to suggest that krill oil could lower blood pressure.
One clinical study on animals was designed to assess the ability of krill oil supplementation to lower systolic blood pressure.
Two groups were chosen, those that were deemed healthy and those with hypertension.
By the fifth week of treatment, subjects with high blood pressure showed a lower systolic blood pressure. However, significantly, supplementation of krill oil had no effect on the blood pressure of the healthy animals.
It was also noted that nitric oxide levels had increased in the blood. Therefore, scientists have acknowledged there is an association with the mechanisms of nitric oxide and the effect of krill oil on blood pressure. (source)
One possible theory to explain the mechanism behind this effect involves the fact that nitric oxide is responsible for widening the blood vessels in the body to allow more blood to pass through. Hypertension is a condition which forces blood through at a greater rate than normal. Therefore the elevated nitric oxide levels could be compensating for this and alleviating the pressure.
The omega 3s EPA and DHA are not easily absorbed by the human body in the body in their original form. They need some help to be processed and that’s where phospholipids come into play.
Phospholipids are a type of healthy fat which works as a highly effective connector to allow the nutrients to move to the cells where it’s needed. (source)
EPA and DHA in krill both use phospholipids to join together which makes them very absorbable. Consequently you receive the full potential of the dose consumed. It also works faster and nothing is wasted.
For this reason, evidence suggests that krill has a slight edge over fish oil when it comes to bioavailability in the body .
Various clinical studies have indicated that when using fish oil or krill oil, the bioavailability appeared to be higher in krill, therefore they have acknowledged there is a difference.
On the other hand they also noted further studies are needed for a firm conclusion. (sources 1, 2)
Even though research is limited, the evidence would suggest that you don’t need as much krill oil as fish oil to get the same benefits.
Evidence is emerging which indicates krill could reduce or prevent inflammation in patients with the joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance produced by the liver which elevates inflammation. Inflammation is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease which causes degeneration of the lining around the joints, resulting in swelling, stiffness and pain in the area.
Experts evaluated the effects of krill oil on chronic inflammation in arthritic symptoms.
By administering volunteers 300 mg of krill oil on a daily basis, the C – reactive protein levels after only seven days had reduced by 19.3%, symptoms of pain by 28.9% and stiffness by 20.3%.
This clearly identifies krill oil as a fast and effective method in reducing inflammation and alleviating symptoms of arthritis. (source)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
For some women, “the time of the month” can be quite a painful and unpleasant experience which can interfere with everyday life.
Many women endure physical symptoms such as cramps, headaches, and abdominal pain ranging from mild to severe.
An evaluation of krill oil and the management of premenstrual syndrome were carried out.
70 patients all diagnosed with PMS were treated with either krill or omega 3 fish oil for a three month period.
Data showed significant improvement within the krill oil group as well as between group comparisons to fish oil. The number of painkillers used in the krill oil group also reduced during the study.
When comparing data between both groups, those on krill oil supplements consumed far fewer painkillers than those taking fish oil in a ten day time frame.
Experts concluded that krill oil was capable of alleviating symptoms of PMS and it was also more effective than omega 3 fish oil. (source)
Krill and Environmental Sustainability
The fishing of krill is a delicate and controversial issue, however it’s a topic which I do believe needs to be highlighted.
There is increasing concern with regards to the commercial harvesting of this crustacean and the detrimental impact it is having upon not only the krill itself, but the micro system it supports.
Krill is the main food source for many different marine species and there is reason to believe their numbers are on the decline.
Environmentalists and commercial fisherman have been debating about the sustainability of this delicate balance in the food chain for quite some time
For this reason the organisation “Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources” (CCAMLR) was established to regulate the industry and restore equilibrium. (source)
Krill is a marine animal which means it can only be fished from the ocean and cannot be traditionally “farmed”.
Consequently, it is very important to consider how your krill supplement has been harvested and to choose a supplement which has been sourced from a sustainable method.
What to Look for in the Best Krill Supplement
Checking the label for content is always a good starting point therefore you can clearly identify what’s included in the tub. A well made supplement should contain only krill oil and nothing else.
Think about the earth’s health as well as your own by choosing a product which is certified by authorities using sustainable fishing methods.
Dosage and Form
Most supplements come in capsule form. Dosage can range from as low as 350 mg to as high as 1500 mg so levels can vary so you may need to take into consideration your circumstances.
What is the Best Krill Oil Supplement Brand?
When you start fishing around for your catch of supplements, it soon becomes obvious the choices available could make you feel like a little fish in a big pond.
Trying to work out which brand offers the best overall quality can be quite a task.
To make things easier, I have trawled through the options available and sifted out the top five krill oil supplements which I think will be appropriate for most people.
It has a decent serving of 1000 mg of krill oil with a balanced amount of 130 mg of EPA and 60 mg of DHA. It’s complete with additional omega 3s and antioxidants with the goal of promoting a healthy body.
Very importantly for me, the krill is obtained from sustainable resources, which means it doesn’t have a negative impact on mother nature.
The fact it’s third party tested, GMP certified with non GMO ingredients and gluten free gives you the feeling of a well made product which could appeal to a wide audience.
For anyone thinking about taking a krill oil supplement, I believe this is be a good choice.