Krill Oil: The Complete Guide. What Does Science Say About Krill Oil?

In order to live a long, happy, and healthy life, there are certain things we need to bear in mind. Of course, most of that comes down to ensuring that we eat a diet which is rich in the essential nutrients that our bodies need, as well as getting enough exercise to go alongside that.

Supplements are ideal if you’re struggling to pack in those nutrients, and krill oil is one which is making a lot of headlines at the current time.

Have you heard of omega 3? You probably have, and you’ve also probably heard that fish oil supplements are a good way to get your dosage of these essential nutrients, especially if you aren’t the world’s biggest fish lover.

Krill oil also is being marketed as a good quality alternative to fish oils, but before you go deciding that you’re going to give it a try, you need to find out more information on exactly what it is.

What is Krill Oil?

Krill

Krill oil is the oil which is derived from a small crustacean, called krill. This is almost like a shrimp, but very small, and it is the food of choice of such marine animals as whales, penguins, mantas, and seals. Krill are abundant in our seas and oceans, and this makes it a sustainable choice for extracting those essential omega 3 oils.

Of course, the oil is taken from the krill and turned into a capsule, which we then take on a regular basis, to give us the omega 3 intake we need.

Is Krill Oil The Same As Fish Oil?

No, but it does the same thing.

Fish oil is derived from oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon, and the oil is placed into those aforementioned capsules, and consumed in the same way.

More importantly, fish oil is mainly stored as triglycerides, whereas krill oil is mainly incorporated in phospholipids.

That doesn’t mean much right now, but phospholipids are thought to facilitate the body to digest and absorb fatty acids, and some studies have shown that krill oil is therefore more effective than fish oil in that regard.

krill-oil-vs-fish-oil

Irrespective of the absorption of fatty acids, both contain a good supply of the two main omega 3s we need, namely DHA and EPA.

Another benefit in the camp of krill oil is that the capsules you take tend to be smaller than fish oil capsules. If you’ve ever taken a fish oil capsule before, you might have experience that familiar side effect that many people complain of – a rather fishy after-taste, and the tendency for the capsules to ‘repeat on you’.

The Benefits of Krill Oil

A lot more research needs to go into the major benefits of krill oil, and how much of a difference the make in direct correlation to fish oil, but studies have identified many benefits already, including the possibility of better heart health. Most of these are standard omega 3 benefits, but some are specific to krill oil itself.

The main benefits of krill oil are:

Krill Oil Can Help The Body Fight Inflammation

Omega 3 fatty acids have an important role in helping the body to fight the effects of inflammation. Some studies have shown that krill oil is even more effective, because it is easier for the body to absorb and use.

Krill Oil May Reduce Joint Pain and Arthritis Symptoms

Omega 3s have long been thought to help with joint pain, due to reducing inflammation and also in reducing pain. Krill oil is no different, and by taking a regular supplement, patients with joint pain may find that their symptoms are reduced. More studies are going into this currently, but results have been encouraging so far.

Krill Oil May Help Reduce PMT-Like Symptoms

Again, due to the reduction in inflammation, some studies have shown that taking krill oil may help women with a reduction in period pain and PMT-like symptoms. A study showed a possible improvement in symptoms of women who have particularly heavy and painful periods (dysmenorrhoea).

Krill Oil May Help to Reduce Harmful Cholesterol, And Therefore Boost Heart Health

DHA and EPA (omega 3 fats) have been shown to help with heart health, due to a reduction in bad cholesterol (LDL). Studies showed that krill oil is particular useful, again thought to be due to the fact that has a high content of DHA and EPA and helps to absorb these omega 3s by the body. There is also a suggestion that krill oil may help the blood vessels to function effectively, but more studies need to go into this, to find out how effective this may be.

Overall however, when used as part of a healthy lifestyle, alongside a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, without smoking, this is an encouraging finding.

Krill Oil May Help to Boost Overall Brain Function

Omega 3 fatty acids have long been thought to boost memory and overall brain function, and due to the high amount of DHA and EPA in krill oil, this benefit is no different when you switch from fish oil, to krill oil instead.

Krill Oil May Help to Reduce Depression Symptoms

More research needs to go into this particular potential benefit, but some studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids have a direct link to improved mood. This is due to the fact that certain hormones are released as a result of omega 3s being present in the body, which boosts dopamine and serotonin, the two neurotransmitters linked to mood regulation.

These are some fantastic overall benefits, and whilst more research needs to go into exactly what is krill oil’s main winning benefit, the ones we’ve just listed are certainly very encouraging, and worth taking a supplement for.

Are There Any Side Effects of Taking Krill Oil?

At the moment, there isn’t enough research-based evidence to suggest that krill oil has any side effects, however there also isn’t enough evidence to suggest that there aren’t any either. Research is continuously ongoing, however omega 3 supplements have been around for a very long time.

Before you start taking a supplement of any kind you should always consult with your doctor, to check that you are not taking any medications that may interact with the supplement, and that you don’t have any conditions which could also be adversely affected by it too.

For instance, omega 3 fats are vital during pregnancy, for the development of the unborn baby, but krill oil supplements have not been tested for safety during pregnancy.

For this reason, you should certainly talk to your doctor about this, before you even consider taking any omega 3 supplement during your pregnancy. If you have any fish or shellfish allergies, again, speak to your doctor to check that you aren’t going to find yourself suffering from adverse effects, due to the amount of fish derivatives in the supplement itself.

The most common side effects of krill oil are the same as fish oil, and include:

  • Stomach aches or discomfort
  • A change in appetite
  • A change in taste
  • Heartburn
  • A fishy taste (not as likely with krill oil, more so with fish oil)
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea

However, it’s worth noting that just because these are possible side effects, it doesn’t mean you’re necessary going to suffer from them yourself; they are simply worth paying attention to.

There is also a suggestion that krill oil may cause an increase in blood pressure, but again, this is a rare side effect, and one you should speak to your doctor about before you start taking the supplements, if you are known to suffer from blood pressure issues yourself.

Possible Warnings Related to Krill Oil

Whilst there aren’t a huge amount of warnings related to krill oil, there are some, aside from the possible warning about blood pressure, as we have just mentioned. Anyone who is taking blood thinning medication should certainly speak to their doctor before taking krill oil.

The reason for this is because the oil may potentially slow down blood clotting. Whilst not a huge amount is known about this possible side effect for now, it’s certainly worth being on the safe side and checking things out before you start taking them.

The same goes for anyone who is about to have surgery, due to the clotting issue. This means that krill oil should be stopped in the weeks leading up to the surgery itself.

As a final possible warning, there is some suggestion that krill oil may interact with Orlistat, a drug which is taken for weight loss. Again, speak to your doctor as not a huge amount is known about this, and to gain reliable advice on how to take it and overcome the possible interaction.

What is The Recommended Dosage of Krill Oil?

Here’s the confusing part. There is no set dosage of krill oil, just like there is no set dosage of fish oil. The best advice is to speak to your doctor because the dosage really does depend on your age, height, weight, etc, but also to follow the directions on the label of your particular supplement of choice.

There isn’t a huge amount of regulation in the supplement market, and this means that different products are taken in different ways, and in different amounts. To be sure, always follow the instructions, but speak to your doctor as a back up also. The same advice goes for fish oil, as regulation in this regard is also very minimal.

When shopping around for the ideal supplement for you, be sure to do your research and read reviews. Again, the lack of major regulation means that you could purchase a product which is lower in quality, and end up re-buying another product shortly afterwards. This is a waste of time and money.

Krill oil is also more expensive than fish oil. This is because of the more complicated harvesting process involved in farming, and extracting the oil from krill, compared to regular fatty/oily fish. Krill oil is also much more difficult to find than fish oil.

You can certainly find fish oil in a regular health store or even in a supermarket, but krill oil might be more difficult to source locally, and you’ll probably end up resorting to online sites. Again, be careful which sites you choose, and always go with a reputable site, with positive reviews.

Conclusion – Krill Oil 101

We’ve covered a lot of information about krill oil, and mentioned that a lot more research needs to go into the subject, in order to pinpoint the benefits in a more concrete way, and to ascertain the correct dosage, and any solid side effects or interactions.

Whilst these are ongoing, it’s fair to say that krill oil is making huge waves in the health and wellness world, and as a way of getting a good amount of omega 3s into your diet, a supplement could be the way to go for you. Check out our article on the best krill oil supplements with high omega-3 content here.

Krill Oil: The Complete Guide. What Does Science Say About Krill Oil?
5 (100%) 2 votes

Dr Paula Cortinas

MD MgSc.

Paula graduated from medical School of the Universidad Central de Venezuela. She is a qualified gynaecologist and human reproductive biologist. She is currently a professor of gynaecology and oncology (Sociedad de Obstetricia y Ginecología) in Venezuela. You can connect with Dr Paula via Linkedin here.

Latest posts by Dr Paula Cortinas (see all)