Krill oil has been a popular supplement for many years due to its many health benefits. After continual evidence-based research, many experts now believe that krill oil as a nutritional supplement may be more popular than taking a fish oil supplement for many health symptoms and conditions.
The question we most often hear is, how do you know if your body requires krill oil or fish oil? This question can be tricky to answer as krill oil seems to offer more health benefits, and krill oil is often marketed as being the leader of all omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Maybe the increased popularity of krill oil might be because of its other nutritional components. Let’s take a look at why and how krill oil may be more beneficial for your body.
Composition Of Krill Oil
Krill oil comes from small shrimp-like crustaceans’ called krill. Krill oil is made up of 40% phospholipids, 30% docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and also contains vitamin A, and vitamin E. DHA and EPA are two types of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) function exclusively via your cell membranes, in which they are anchored to by phospholipid molecules. Phospholipids are the structural components of your cell walls. Phospholipids may support healthy fat metabolism and cell formation. Now here’s the exciting part, did you know that a whopping 60% of your brain weight consists of phospholipids? Krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids mainly esterified in phospholipids (1). This means that krill oil may have the cutting edge advantage for your health, the optimum functioning of your brain and for addressing all brain conditions.
Why Your Body Requires DHA and EPA
Omega-3 fatty acids, which krill oil is made up of, are essential for optimal functioning of your body, especially your brain. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are essential nutrients that may enhance the quality of life and may also lower the risk of premature death (2). Evidence suggests that specifically, omega-3 DHA may be essential for the early brain development of infants and for maintaining the brain structure and optimum brain function in adults.
Deficiency Signs Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA may include:
- Poor Vision
- High Inflammatory Levels
- Poor Heart Health
- Mental Disorders
- Poor Brain Functioning
- Deteriorating Bone And Joint Health
Some of the most nutritious foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include; egg yolks, hemps seeds, brazil nuts, cashews, flax seeds, hemp seeds, anchovies, sardines, herring, wild-caught salmon, chia seeds, mackerel, cod liver oil and walnuts. Try to eat wild-caught or organic foods as they contain lower levels of contamination and more nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids. There are many oils which contain omega-3 fatty acids including; hemp oil, walnut oil and algae oil.
Krill Oil Benefits
Your body requires a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are called ‘essential fatty acids’ for an excellent reason. As essential as DHA may be for pre and postnatal brain development. EPA is considered to be influential on your behavior and mood.
Studies suggest a combination of DHA and EPA, which krill oil is a fantastic source of both, has been shown to benefit a host of health conditions including; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism dyspraxia, dyslexia and aggression (3). Alarmingly, the accelerated cognitive decline may correlate with people who have low levels of DHA/EPA. Supplementation of krill oil often shows improved cognitive function in many studies. This may be because krill oil utilises DHA and EPA together with phospholipids.
Krill oil may also offer good anti-inflammatory activity (4). Evidence suggests that oxidative stress and inflammation may be implicated in the development of all inflammatory diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. The results of these studies suggest that krill oil improved symptoms via anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative mechanisms.
10 Most Incredible Benefits Of Krill Oil
Krill oil may be considered brain food for cognition, behavior and mood, but what other health conditions may krill oil be helpful for? Omega-3 fatty acids from krill oil and other deep-sea fish may provide outstanding anti-inflammatory benefits that may protect you from cardiovascular disease. Although more evidence is needed to evaluate how effective krill oil is for the following health conditions, studies do suggest that krill oil may also help prevent the following health conditions and enhance the health of:
Krill oil for athletes is something not talked about very often. However, people training or working out at high intensities on a regular basis e.g. athletes and fitness fanatics may be vulnerable to certain health conditions including the potential to a compromised gut barrier function due to inflammation by heat-shock proteins, suppressed immune function and inflammatory joint pain. Krill oil has demonstrated benefits in assisting with the management of these conditions. Research suggests that krill oil improved intestinal barrier integrity and epithelial restoration during inflammation, while also helping with controlling bacterial adhesion and invasion to epithelial cells (6). This suggests that krill oil may help reduce intestinal inflammation, which may be common in athletes.
2. Brain Conditions; ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Schizophrenia, Dementia, Epilepsy, Autism
Depression is suffered in some small or large form in many people in our society today. Some don’t wish to admit they suffer depression and others have no idea that what they are mentally experiencing is depression. It is beneficial to recognise you have depression. Depression is nothing to be embarrassed about. Depression can be an enormously debilitating condition. There are a host of fantastic therapies available for the management of depression including nutritional therapy. Nutritional therapy is essential for addressing any chemical imbalance of nutrients. A few changes, or a complete overhaul, of your diet, supplements, exercise program and lifestyle, can make an enormous difference for anyone suffering from depression. Your health care professional will guide and help you.
There have also been several studies on krill oil for the management of depression, and the results have been promising. One study evaluated the effects of krill oil on cognition and depression-like behaviour (7). The results of this study indicated that active components (EPA, DHA and the powerful antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’) in krill oil facilitate learning processes and provide antidepressant-like effects.
Dyspraxia is a brain-based condition which makes it hard to coordinate physical movement due to muscle weakness and/or lower intelligence. Kids with dyspraxia may be challenged with balance and good posture. Dyspraxia can be frustrating and be upsetting for the child and also for the family of the child. Interestingly, some people who suffer from dyspraxia have an average or above average intelligence. Most do not outgrow dyspraxia. However, the fatty acids found in krill oil may help with dyspraxia and also autism. Further trials are continually being carried out on the effect of omega-3 fatty acids for these two conditions.
From studies done so far, dyslexia and ADHD children have shown improvement with omega-3 fatty acids. Although both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential for optimal brain function, it is the omega-3 fatty acids which indicate that it is the EPA and not the DHA which may be of the most benefit for these conditions. As for optimal wellness and most health conditions, we know that imbalances of healthy and unhealthy fatty acids may contribute to a range of behavioral and learning difficulties including ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism.
Studies suggest that the free fatty acid (FFA) extract of krill oil may help with the treatment of this disease (8). Primarily because your body can absorb all of the omega-3 fatty acids from krill oil. Krill oil may have an active part to play due to its ability to lower inflammation. The powerful antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’ may also help fight free radicals. Many studies suggest that free radicals may cause chronic inflammation and sometimes cancer. More scientific studies are needed to be carried out on this, but some studies suggest that along with many other therapies and nutrients, a higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, which krill oil is high in, may lower the risk of several cancers including breast and prostate cancers (9).
If you have diabetes, you are unable to utilise blood sugar. Diabetes can result in sugar being stored in other organs. Krill oil may help your body control this by inhibiting the activity of glucose-6-phosphatase. Krill oil may help with decreasing the amount of sugar released from your liver and may also promote fatty acid oxidation in your liver. Studies suggest that krill oil may help with blood glucose control for people with type 2 diabetes (10). Krill oil may also prevent and reverse the effects of insulin resistance.
5. Eyes; Eye Redness, Dry Eye Symptoms, Eye Inflammation
Deteriorating vision and the need to wear glasses is often associated with ‘old age’. However, some suggest that it may be due to a lack of specific nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids (11). Before going out and buying your first pair of glasses, try taking krill oil for a few months.
For most of us who work at a computer all day, dry eyes can often be a side effect. Dry eye syndrome is when you produce fewer or less effective tears, and at times it can be frustrating and irritating. Fish oil may help, however krill oil may be more effective at treating this condition because the omega-3 essential fatty acids in krill oil are predominantly in a phospholipid form. Fish oil doesn’t offer the phospholipid form but may provide other benefits for this condition including a lower tear level.
Sluggish energy is often the result of our busy and sometimes stressful lifestyle many of us lead today. The more active we are, the less time we have for relaxing and recharging. The short-term result is feeling tired, sluggish and flat. The long-term effect of continually living a busy and stressful life may be adrenal exhaustion. Look after yourself by finding a stress release and relaxation technique you love and practice a form of relaxation daily.
Boosting Your Energy
There are numerous ways you might like to try to boost your energy. Some suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may increase energy both mentally and physically. DHA and EPA the two Omega-3 fatty acids found in high amounts in krill oil may be essential for optimal brain function. By taking a supplement of DHA and EPA (krill oil) may result in a boost for your mental energy by increasing your energy, focus and attention. Deficiencies of DHA and EPA may cause psychological fatigue, illness and memory-related difficulties.
Physically krill oil may help boost your energy because omega-3’s may promote your cardiovascular health resulting in optimal levels of fully oxygenated blood flowing throughout your body. With a good healthy circulation freely flowing around your body, you will feel physically energised with the constantly rejuvenated oxygen-rich blood pumping around your body.
Fish oil may help improve your vitality, but because krill oil contains the potent antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’ it may also be supporting a healthy immune system. The healthier your immune system is, the more robust and vibrant you will feel.
7. Heart Conditions; High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol
As just mentioned, krill oil promotes your cardiovascular system by improving the levels of fully oxygenated blood flowing throughout your body. Studies suggest that krill oil may help people with cardiovascular risk factors (12). Heart disease can sometimes be a secondary disease to diabetes. Krill may reduce the risk of your diabetes developing into heart disease due to krill oils ability to help your body process and store sugar correctly and improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
8. Inflammatory Conditions; Osteoarthritis, Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis
Krill oil used for inflammatory conditions, specifically arthritis might be what you have most often heard krill oil used for. There is a good reason for this as many people experience fantastic results from taking krill oil to ease their pain and stiffness often suffered from these health conditions. As already discussed, omega-3 fatty acids may help with lowering inflammatory levels in the body (13). Fish oil may help. However, krill oil has shown to be a more significant help with reducing inflammatory levels throughout your body because of the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the rich composition of phospholipids and the antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’ that krill oil offers.
Krill oil may also be able to lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (5). C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance produced by your liver that increases in the presence of inflammation in your body. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory biomarker. To find out if you have a high or low CRP level ask your health care professional to test this level in your next blood test.
If you are overweight an exercise program with a mix of cardio and strength training targeted to your specific goals is helpful. Eating a balanced nutritional diet is useful for obesity. However, adding a right balance of healthy fats into your diet is essential. Many who are trying to lose weight sometimes eat less fat. Removing unhealthy fat is critical for optimal health, especially if you are trying to lose weight. However, including healthy fats, specifically omega-3’s into your diet is essential for optimal health and weight loss. Healthy essential fats may keep your metabolic rate working effectively. When your food lacks essential fatty acids like omega-3’s your metabolic rate slows down and your body stops burning calories efficiently.
A lack of omega-3’s in your diet may lead to weight gain. Omega-3 fats are also responsible for improving how your cells respond to insulin, neurotransmitters and other messages throughout your body.
Dyslipidemia is health condition of an unusually high amount of triglycerides, cholesterol and fat phospholipids in the blood. This health condition is associated with a poor diet, lifestyle and lack of exercise. Insulin levels which have been high for a long time may also contribute to dyslipidemia. Krill oil may help dyslipidemia due to its high content of EPA and DHA, and it’s potent antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’ content (14). EPA and DHA and ‘astaxanthin’ may also help with fatty liver and glucose metabolism. Fatty liver, glucose metabolism and dyslipidemia are conditions often associated with obesity and other metabolic diseases.
10. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
There are so many symptoms often experienced with PMS including; acne, bloating, headache, weight gain, fatigue, joint or muscle pain, cramping, weight gain, fluid retention, breast tenderness, constipation, diarrhea, alcohol intolerance, poor concentration, change in libido, insomnia, depressed mood, anxiety, tension, mood swings, irritability, and social withdrawal. Often only one or two of the symptoms are suffered, and others suffer most of these symptoms.
Dysmenorrhea is pain felt low in the abdomen and sometimes spreads to the lower back and legs. This pain may be caused by muscle cramping of the uterus, or it may be a sign of specific reproductive disorders, such as endometriosis or fibroids. If severe pain persists, check with your healthcare professional to ascertain what is going on.
A recent study evaluated the effectiveness of Neptune krill oil for the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea (15). The secondary objective of this study was to compare the efficacy of Neptune krill oil for the management of PMS and dysmenorrhoea with that of omega-3 fish oil. The study showed that Neptune krill oil can significantly reduce dysmenorrhoea and the emotional symptoms of PMS, and may be substantially more useful for the management of PMS compared to omega-3 fish oil.
Krill Oil Vs Fish Oil
What makes krill oil different from fish oil? Krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids, rather than triglycerides in fish oil. These studies suggest a higher absorption rate by your body of krill oil in comparison to fish oil due to the phospholipid structure. Krill oil may contain more nutrients than fish oil because as we discussed earlier, the EPA and DHA in krill oil are in the form of phospholipids. In fish oil, the EPA and DHA are in the form of triglycerides. Studies suggest that phospholipids enhance omega-3 absorption, but triglycerides do not. Antarctic krill oil is from clear, cold waters of the Antarctic, so they do not contain the toxins associated with some fish oils. Krill contains a powerful antioxidant called ‘astaxanthin’.
Antioxidant Called ‘Astaxanthin’
The antioxidant called astaxanthin gives a colourful, lipid-soluble pigment and a natural pinkish colour. It may be a powerful antioxidant and have strong anti-inflammatory strengths. Combined with these two properties it may also be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and cross the cellular membranes. Researchers are finding ‘astaxanthin’ may be helpful for pain relief, arthritis, eye strain, heart disease, high cholesterol, immune system disorders and reduced levels of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach. Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria which may cause chronic inflammation and infection in your stomach that may lead to ulcers and many other health conditions.
It is a prevalent infection in our society to have. Studies show that Helicobacter pyloria may also significantly increase your risk of developing duodenal and gastric ulcer disease and gastric cancer (16). Another interesting point to consider is that krill oil may be less likely to be contaminated by heavy metals than fish oil.
Krill Oil Side Effects
If you have a shellfish allergy, krill is contraindicated. However, krill oil is considered safe for most adults. The most common side effects of krill include; stomach-related issues, heartburn, burping, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, nausea, decreased appetite, and change in taste. There are also some precautions to consider when taking krill oil including; if you are pregnant and breastfeeding but also if you have a bleeding disorder as krill oil may slow blood clotting. Also check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements, including krill oil, especially if you have had surgery because krill oil may slow blood clotting which might increase the risk of bleeding after surgery.
If you have diabetes and you have been advised to take krill oil, you will have to monitor your blood sugar levels more carefully and watch for signs of low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia) as krill oil may lower your blood sugar levels. Again, your healthcare professional will help you with this.
If you are taking any prescription medication that slow blood clotting such as; anticoagulant, antiplatelet drugs they may interact with krill oil and might increase your chances of bruising and bleeding. If you are on any medication or taking any other supplements always check with your healthcare professional before adding any other supplement, including krill oil.
Sustainably Sourced Krill Oil
There is a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an organisation which tries to maintain oceans health and sustainability. Every time a supplier harvests krill, the fishing vessel’s coordinates are logged and recorded, to provide traceability to the location of harvesting the fish. Try and find a krill oil supplement which is sourced from a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable fishery with the highest levels of traceability, using specific harvesting technology to minimise environmental impact.
Krill float in considerably large swarms in oceans all over the world. Antarctic Krill, also known as Euphausia Superba are small, red coloured crustaceans. They are one of the largest of the krill species. Antarctic krill feed on the microscopic algae and are an essential part of the ecosystem. They can live up to ten years, but they are heavily hunted. Recent studies show that Antarctic krill stocks may have dropped by 80 percent. Krill are found mostly in the pristine Antarctic oceans where there is a limited accumulation of contaminants. Eco-Harvesting technology results in a significantly reduced environmental impact.
How Much Krill Oil
For optimum health, 1.5 g of Euphausia superba (krill) oil per day may be required. Krill oil will also give your body the powerful antioxidant ‘astaxanthin’ and a good dose of vitamin A, and vitamin E, which naturally occurs in krill oil. For specific health conditions, your body may require higher levels of krill oil to notice any improvements. Consult with your healthcare practitioner, so you receive the recommended dose necessary for your health condition and health goals. In the meantime, choosing high quality, sustainably sourced krill oil can be a healthy addition to your healthy diet and daily supplement program.