CSN's Ultimate Guide to Krill Oil

Krill oil has become an increasingly popular supplement in recent years, but what exactly is it, how does it work and what is the difference to good old fashioned fish oil? Here's a quick guide to understanding the benefits of krill oil.

What is Krill Oil?

Krill oil is extracted from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans called Antarctic krill that live in the oceans around Antarctica. Krill are a major food source for whales, seabirds, fish, and seals. Oil is extracted from the krill, and due to the environment they are in, and quality of the processing that makes this a premium source of Omega-3.

The main active ingredients in krill oil are omega-3 fatty acids like EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). However, unlike fish oil, the omega-3s in krill oil are bound to phospholipids (a molecule containing phosphate and glycerol with the fatty acids) rather than triglycerides ('just' other fatty acids). This makes the omega-3s in krill oil more bioavailable to our bodies compared to those from regular fish oil.

Omega 3's have many benefits and we have discussed the science that supports their use in more depth here

Krill oil also contains the antioxidant astaxanthin which gives it a reddish colour. The astaxanthin adds to the stability of the oil and also provides added antioxidant benefits.


Krill Oil vs Fish Oil

Both krill oil and fish oil provide omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA that are beneficial for health. However, there are some key differences:

- The Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA in krill oil are bound to phospholipids while those in fish oil are bound to triglycerides. Making the omega-3s in krill oil more bioavailable.

- Krill oil contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant that helps stabilize the oil and provides added health benefits.

- Krill oil may be more effective at lower doses. Many of the benefits of krill oil are seen at doses of less than 1 gram per day, compared to fish oil which is usually taken at 1-3 grams per day. This is probably linked to increased bioavailability.

- Krill oil has a lower risk of fishy burps or aftertaste. It has a milder taste compared to fish oil.

- Krill oil is more expensive than fish oil due to more difficult sourcing and production.


Benefits of Krill Oil

Some of the main evidence-based benefits of krill oil include:

- Heart health - Krill oil can help lower triglycerides, raise good HDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. The omega-3s help reduce inflammation, improve arterial function, and may help prevent heart disease.

- Joint health - Krill oil can help reduce inflammation, stiffness, and pain associated with arthritis and other joint issues. It may also help prevent cartilage degradation.

- Brain health - The anti-inflammatory omega-3s in krill oil help promote good brain function and may improve memory, cognition, and behavior in adults and children.

- Liver health - Krill oil has been shown to help reduce fat deposits in the liver, lowering the risk of liver disease.

- Women's health - Krill oil may help reduce symptoms associated with PMS and dysmenorrhea. It may also ease menopause symptoms.

- Eye health - The omega-3s and astaxanthin in krill oil helps reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the eyes. It may help prevent eye conditions like dry eyes, macular degeneration, and cataracts.

- Skin health - Krill oil supplements can help reduce acne, dermatitis, rosacea, and signs of sun damage and aging on the skin when taken regularly.

- Antioxidant benefits - The astaxanthin gives krill oil exceptional antioxidant properties that can help neutralize harmful free radicals throughout the body.


Recommended Krill Oil Dosage

Studies have used krill oil dosages ranging from 300 mg to 3000 mg per day. However, most of the benefits are seen at doses of 500-1000 mg daily. Here are general dosage recommendations based on your goals:

- General health - 500 mg daily

- Heart health - 600-1000 mg daily

- Arthritis and joint pain - 1000 mg daily

- Reducing PMS symptoms - 1000-2000 mg daily

- Brain and cognition - 1000 mg daily

Krill oil is generally safe at these recommended dosages for most adults. As with fish oil, krill oil may increase bleeding risks so consult your doctor before taking it if you take blood thinners.

Look for Krill Oil Supplement Quality.

When choosing a krill oil supplement, check that it clearly lists the amounts of EPA, DHA, and astaxanthin per capsule. A high quality krill oil product should provide at least 100 mg EPA and DHA per 500 mg capsule. It should also be purified to remove any heavy metals, PCBs, or other contaminants.

Higher cost krill oils tend to provide better purity and quality. Look for krill oil brands that follow good manufacturing practices and voluntarily test for contaminants. Krill oil should be kept in the fridge after opening to maintain freshness.