Krill Oil - History, Uses, and Benefits

Krill Oil - History, Uses, and Benefits

If you want all the benefits of fish oil, plus more, and don't want to take fistfuls of pills or deal with rank fish burps then keep reading. Krill are small crustaceans found in oceans across the globe.

Krill oil was first approved in 1999 by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a nutraceutical dietary supplement. [1] In the past five years, krill oil exploded in popularity as a highly bioavailable source of the Omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) with the added benefit of the potent antioxidant astaxanthin.

Related: Click here to Shop for Krill Oil at Tiger Fitness

Krill is the largest biomass in the world, comprising roughly 500 million tons, but is one of the most expensive sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. [2] Fish like sardines and anchovies yield up to 80% fat by weight and takes days to experience significant oxidation whereas krill oil may only yield only 5% fat and begin oxidizing in hours. [3] As a result, manufacturers must freeze or use significantly larger quantities of fresh krill to extract the equivalent amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.

One would assume that these practices lead to the over-harvesting and yet less than 1% of the total krill population is harvested every year. [3] Although the oil extraction process is inefficient and labor-intensive, krill is an extremely sustainable source of heart-healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.
Krill OilFish oil supplements are the most commonly consumed non-vitamin/non-mineral supplement taken by both children and adults. 7.8% of adults (~18.8 million) and 1.1% of children (664,000) between the ages of 4 and 17 consumed a fish oil supplement at least once in the past 30 days. [4]

Fish oil supplements may be the most popular choice, these capsules can cause rancid fish burps and may require the consumption of up to 10 capsules just to obtain the recommended quantities of EPA and DHA. Krill oil is quickly gaining popularity as both children and adults look for purer and more effective alternatives to fish oil.

Krill Oil Uses

Krill oil is rich in EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids as well as the antioxidant astaxanthin and the brains-supporting essential nutrient choline. [5] EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids (EFAs) that must be orally ingested and cannot be synthesized by the human body. EFAs support healthy cell membrane formation, regulated blood clotting, skin and nail production, as well as normal thyroid, adrenal, liver, immune, hormone, brain, and nervous system function. [3]

The typical Western diet is high in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids and low in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. Those looking to increase their Omega-3 fatty acid consumption may consume krill oil to achieve the recommended 4:1 or 2:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 EFAs.

In addition to being used as a supplement to optimize overall health and wellness, users may specifically consume one to three grams of krill oil to fight inflammation, improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as alleviate the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. [6] Daily doses of six to eight milligrams of the antioxidant astaxanthin, an amount reasonably obtained through krill oil supplementation, offers cardioprotective, blood-sugar-reducing, and blood-flow-enhancing properties. [7]

If you have a family history of heart disease, are currently combating, or looking to prevent high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then krill oil may be for you.

The optimal krill oil supplement contains at least 40% phospholipids as measured by total oil weight and at least 750mcg of astaxanthin per gram. [2] The daily consumption of krill oil does not offer acute effects immediately noticed after ingestion, but its chronic use can improve your overall health and longevity.

Krill Oil Benefits

The daily consumption of one to three grams of krill oil appears to decrease inflammation (as measured by C-reactive protein), increase good (HDL) cholesterol, decrease bad (LDL) and total cholesterol, as well as decrease triglyceride levels and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. [6] Diabetics may benefit from its blood-sugar-regulating properties.

Those combating depression may experience the alleviation of symptoms and improved mood through EPA and DHA's abilities to increase corticotropin-releasing hormone, dopamine, and serotonin levels Furthermore, krill oil is extremely safe and offers more bioavailable forms of EPA and DHA compared to fish oil.

Ninety patients with either cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis and C-reactive protein (CRP) blood levels greater than 1.0mg/dl consumed either 300mg of krill or placebo capsules daily for 30 days. At the seven, fourteen, and thirty day markers krill oil reduced C-reactive protein by 19.3%, 29.7%, and 30.9%, respectively. [8]

The lowering of CRP indicates decreased inflammation throughout the body. After just seven days, krill oil as reduced pain, stiffness, and functional impairment scores by 28.9%, 20.3%, and 22.8%, respectively. [8] These findings are exceptionally promising for those with quality-of-life-impairing conditions causing high levels of inflammation.

A multi-center three-month study split 120 patients with high levels of fat in the blood into four groups and asked them to consume either 2 to 3 grams of krill oil, 1 to 1.5 grams of krill oil, 3 grams of fish oil, or placebo capsules daily. After 90 days both krill oil groups significantly decreased glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol to a greater degree than both fish oil and placebo groups. [9]

A second study examined daily krill oil supplementation between 0.5 and 4 grams per day for twelve weeks in a population of 300 males and females. All krill oil groups reduced triglycerides by an average of 10.2% compared to the olive oil placebo.10 Those who benefited the most from krill oil consumed the least amount of fish and had the highest initial triglyceride levels.

Krill oil also appears to improve overall cognitive function. A study of 45 males between the ages of 61 and 72 consumed either two grams of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), krill oil, or sardine oil daily for twelve weeks and completed memory and calculation tasks.

Krill oil significantly increased oxygen-loaded hemoglobin in the brain, the predominant protein in red blood cells, during both working memory and calculation tasks. [11] Low levels of oxyhemoglobin in the brain may indicate a number of life-threatening conditions and decreased cognitive performance.

A small study of twelve healthy males with an average age of 31 consumed 1,680mg of combined EPA/DHA through krill oil high in phospholipids, fish oil high in ethyl-esters (EE), or fish oil high in re-esterfied triacylglycerides (rTAG). This double-blind study found that krill oil increased EPA and DHA levels in the blood nearly 34% more than fish high in rTAG and 68% more than fish oil high in EE after just 72 hours. [12] Krill oil isn't just an expensive marketing gimmick; it's a highly bioavailable form of EFAs.

Most studies examine the combined benefits of EPA, DHA, and astaxanthin found in krill oil. One study examined the individual benefits found from ingesting two or eight milligrams of astaxanthin per day in females with an average age of 21.5.

When consumed daily for eight weeks, oral ingestion of astaxanthin increased levels of this antioxidant in the blood, decreased C-reactive protein and biomarkers indicating DNA damage, as well as improved overall immune function through the increase of T and B cells. [13] Astaxanthin offers exceptional health-promoting benefits and further supports the use of krill oil over fish oil.

Krill oil contains more antioxidants and more bioavailable forms of EPA and DHA compared to fish oil. Whereas fish oil has EPA and DHA bound primarily to triglycerides, krill oil has these Omega-3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids, non-esterified fatty acids, di-, and tri-glycerides. [14]

The majority of which is bound to highly bioavailable phospholipids. Krill oil requires only about two-thirds, or 62.8% of the EPA and DHA content found in fish oil to achieve the same benefits. [15]

The study yielding these findings dosed krill oil daily for seven weeks at 3,000mg per day (543mg of combined EPA/DHA) and compared it to fish oil at 1,800mg per day (864mg of combined EPA/DHA). [15] If you're tired of popping fistfuls of fish oil pills and don't mind paying a premium for a more bioavailable EFA supplement with a higher antioxidant content, then krill oil may be for you.

When it comes to safety, krill oil is hard to beat. This animal is on the bottom of the food chain and feeds on phytoplankton so it doesn't accumulate heavy metals like mercury, a common concern in fish oil supplements. [2]

The moderate consumption of krill oil has no specifically documented negative side effects. Excessive of any omega-3 fatty acid supplement may cause minor gastrointestinal symptoms such as burping, indigestion or diarrhea. [4]

Those who regularly consume nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or blood thinners like warfarin should consult with their healthcare professional before consuming krill oil. For the vast majority of the population, krill oil is an exceptionally safe supplement with strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help regulate critical blood markers like cholesterol and triglycerides.

Krill OilClick here to order MuscleTech Krill Oil now.

Tiger Fitness offers a handful of krill oil supplements with varying levels of EPA, DHA, and astaxanthin.
  • Muscletech Krill Oil - Two softgel provides 2,000mg of krill oil, 226mg of EPA, and 124mg of DHA, 426mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and does not specify astaxanthin content.
  • Labrada Nutrition Krill Oil - Two softgels provide 1,000mg of krill oil, 100mg of EPA, 55mg of DHA, 190mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, and 200mcg of astaxanthin.
  • Wfit Nutrition Omega Enhanced - Two softgels provide 760mg of krill oil, 720mg fish oil, 270mg of EPA,162mg of DHA, and 400mcg of astaxanthin.
Have you tried or do you currently use krill oil? Did you experience benefits in addition to those discussed above? If so, then let me know in the comments below.
1) Fassett, Robert G., and Jeff Coombes. "Astaxanthin: A Potential Therapeutic Agent in Cardiovascular Disease." National Center for Biotechnology Information. Marine Drugs, 2011. Web. Sept. 2016.
2) Goodman, Dennis. "Health Benefits of Krill Oil: 5 Ways the Supplement Trumps Regular Fish Oil." Fox News. N.p., 1 July 2015. Web. Sept. 2016.
3) Sly, Brad. "Krill Oil Vs. Fish Oil: What's the Difference?" Breaking Muscle. N.p., 2016. Web. Sept. 2016.
4) "Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth." National Center for Complementary Integrative Health. National Institutes of Health, Aug. 2015. Web. Sept. 2016.
5) Bengston, Susan M., Martin Schlabach, and Peter D. Nichols. "A Nutritional-Toxicological Assessment of Antarctic Krill Oil Versus Fish Oil Dietary Supplements." PubMed Central (PMC). Nutrients, Sept. 2014. Web. Sept. 2016.
6) Frank, Kurtis, et al. "Krill Oil - Scientific Review on Usage, Dosage, Side Effects." N.p., 2016. Web. Sept. 2016.
7) Frank, Kurtis, et al. "Astaxanthin - Scientific Review on Usage, Dosage, Side Effects." N.p., 2016. Web. Sept. 2016.
8) Deutsch, L. "Evaluation of the Effect of Neptune Krill Oil on Chronic Inflammation and Arthritic Symptoms." National Center for Biotechnology Information. J Am Coll Nutr, Feb. 2007. Web. Sept. 2016.
9) Bunea, R., K. El Farrah, and L. Deutsch. "Evaluation of the Effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the Clinical Course of Hyperlipidemia." National Center for Biotechnology Information. Altern Med Rev, Dec. 2004. Web. Sept. 2016.
10) Berge, K., et al. "Krill Oil Supplementation Lowers Serum Triglycerides Without Increasing Low-density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Adults with Borderline High or High ..."National Center for Biotechnology Information. Nutr Res, Feb. 2014. Web. Sept. 2016.
11) Konagai, Chizuru, et al. "Effects of Krill Oil Containing N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Phospholipid Form on Human Brain Function: a Randomized Controlled Trial in Healthy Elderly Volunteers." PubMed Central (PMC). Clinical Interventions in Aging, 2013. Web. Sept. 2016.
12) Philipp Schuchardt, Jan, et al. "Incorporation of EPA and DHA into Plasma Phospholipids in Response to Different Omega-3 Fatty Acid Formulations - a Comparative Bioavailability Study of Fish Oil Vs. Krill Oil." PubMed Central (PMC). Lipids in Health and Disease, 2011. Web. Sept. 2016.
13) Soon Park, Jean, et al. "Astaxanthin Decreased Oxidative Stress and Inflammation and Enhanced Immune Response in Humans." PubMed Central (PMC). Nutrition & Metabolism, 2010. Web. Sept. 2016.
14) Salem Jr, Norman, and Connye N. Kurato. "A Reexamination of Krill Oil Bioavailability Studies." PubMed Central (PMC). Lipids in Health and Disease, 26 Aug. 2014. Web. Sept. 2016.
15) Ulven, Stine M., et al. "Metabolic Effects of Krill Oil are Essentially Similar to Those of Fish Oil but at Lower Dose of EPA and DHA, in Healthy Volunteers." National Center for Biotechnology Information. Lipids, Jan. 2011. Web. Sept. 2016.
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