Krill oil supplements are increasingly gaining popularity today, especially as a substitute for fish oil.
For many years now, people have taken fish oil for all of its omega-3 fats or essential fatty acids, which have shown tremendous health benefits for a variety of health ailments including improving eye health, reducing heart disease, promoting brain function, combating depression, fighting inflammation and even preventing cancer.
However, today, more and more people are turning to krill oil.
In this post, we'll uncover what krill oil is, learn the differences between krill oil vs fish oil, and discover the many incredible krill oil benefits for the mind and the body.
Table of Contents
- What is Krill Oil?
- Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil
- Krill Oil Composition
- Krill Oil Benefits
- Krill Oil For Dry Eyes
- Krill Oil For Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
- Krill Oil For Skin
- Krill Oil For Inflammation
- Krill Oil For Joints and Arthritis
- Krill Oil For Heart Health
- Krill Oil For PMS and Hormonal Imbalances
- Krill Oil For Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- Krill Oil For Weight Loss and Obesity
- Krill Oil For Diabetes
- Krill Oil For Depression and Anxiety
- Krill Oil For Brain Health
- Krill Oil For Immunity
- Krill Oil For Cancer
- How to Take Krill Oil Supplements
- Krill Oil Side Effects
- How to Buy Krill Oil Supplements
- Key Takeaways
What is Krill Oil?
Krill oil is obtained from Antarctic krill, tiny crustaceans that resemble shrimp. They are the same small creatures that make up the main food of majestic whales such as Baleen or blue whales (filter feeders), white whales, mantas, and even penguins and other sea animals.
In fact, in Norwegian, "krill" actually means "whale food," and it seems incredible to think that the largest animals on earth survive on tiny creatures like the 2-inch long krill!
But perhaps, they long knew the health benefits these tiny creatures pack in, that we are only discovering today...
Krill oil is an excellent source of phospholipid-derived fatty acids (PLFA), and omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which serve important functions in our bodies. These healthy fats are also found in fish oil, but you can get them only from marine life.
But which is better — krill oil or fish oil? Next, we'll take a look at how krill oil compares to fish oil.
Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil
So, how do you know if you should take krill oil or fish oil?
This can be tricky to answer, so let's take a look at the facts. While both krill oil and fish oil provide immense health benefits, they differ in a few ways.
Fish oil is derived from oily fish such as sardines, tuna or herring, while krill oil comes from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans.
While both are a good source of omega-3s, research suggests that krill oil is more bio-available (absorbed more easily) as the DHA and EPA in krill oil are bound to phospholipids, while in fish oil, the omega-3 fats are bound to triglycerides. However, in order to obtain the same amount of omega-3s as fish oil, more krill oil capsules may be required. Although, some argue that since the essential fats are absorbed better from krill oil, a lower dose works just as well.
But, krill oil is also more popular today for the reasons below...
Excellent source of astaxanthin
Unlike fish oil which is typically a yellowish-gold color, krill oil supplements have a distinctive reddish color due to an important antioxidant they contain called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid also found in salmon and some shellfish, giving it their familiar red color.
Astaxanthin is nothing less than a "super-nutrient." It is 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C, 100 times stronger than Vitamin E, and clinical trials have demonstrated its many incredible health benefits.
This super-strong antioxidant is known to cross the blood-brain barrier, and protect against inflammation and oxidative stress, which can cause damage to cells, proteins, lipids and even DNA, and can lead to diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetes, inflammatory disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.
Many consumers of fish oil complain of a "fishy" aftertaste, reflux issues or burping after taking fish oil supplements. Krill oil has a tolerable taste and some brands even enhance it with natural oils to give it a pleasant aftertaste, and offer a smaller soft-gel format making the supplements easier to swallow.
Naturally pure and non-toxic
One of the biggest concerns people have with eating seafood is also ingesting mercury and other toxins that can be found in fish that can lead to heavy metal toxicity. Since krill is literally at the bottom of the food chain and feeds on zooplankton and phytoplankton, rather than other fish that may have mercury, and due to its size and minimal lifespan, krill has non-detectable levels of mercury making it safer than fish oil.
Krill oil can also be considered to be the purest of marine-based omega-3 oils since it is harvested from the Antarctic ocean, the cleanest ocean on the planet.
Sustainable source of omega-3s
Some may be concerned about harvesting large amounts of krill and the adverse effects that may have on whales, penguins and other marine life that depend on these tiny crustaceans for their survival.
However, krill are actually the largest biomass on earth! Their short life and fast reproduction contribute to their long-standing sustainability, and less than 1% of ocean krill is actually harvested annually.
In fact, the international organization, CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources), that monitors overfishing in the Antarctic Ocean has set a yearly krill fishing limit of 3.47 million tons. The actual numbers fished globally are a mere 150,000 – 180,000 tons per year, making krill oil a safe and sustainable alternative to fish oil.
Krill Oil Composition
Let's take a closer look at what Antarctic krill oil is comprised of to understand why it is so beneficial for the body and the mind.
Below is the basic breakup of the healthy nutrients packed in krill oil:
- Phospholipids — 40%
- DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids — 30%
- Vitamins A and E
- Super-powerful antioxidant astaxanthin
The human brain consists of 60% phospholipids, and other organs such as the heart, kidney, and liver contain close to 90% of these important molecules. Phospholipids are responsible for forming the basic structures of cell membranes thereby supporting key functions and processes in the body that may help to prevent "coronary heart disease, inflammation or cancer."
Phospholipids in krill oil are also more water-soluble, so they can potentially be absorbed better into the body than a triglyceride based fish oil for example. They also have the important responsibility of carrying omega-3s EPA and DHA into your cells. Only some fatty fish like herring, Atlantic salmon, and krill oil actually contain both phospholipids and EPA and DHA.
DHA and EPA
Research shows that the omega-3 essential fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can "enhance quality of life and lower the risk of premature death." They have incredible "neuroprotective" properties and in combination can "benefit attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and aggression."
When it comes to krill oil, the research further suggested that "Krill omega-3 phospholipids, containing mostly phosphatidylcholine (PC) with DHA/EPA attached, markedly outperformed conventional fish oil DHA/EPA triglycerides in double-blind trials for premenstrual syndrome/dysmenorrhea and for normalizing blood lipid profiles. Krill omega-3 phospholipids demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity, lowering C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in a double-blind trial."
Therefore, the DHA and EPA omega-3 fats found in krill oil not only prevent inflammation (thereby protecting against many diseases) but are also essential for brain development and enhancing the quality of life.
Krill Oil Benefits
Amongst the many remarkable krill oil benefits include the oil's ability to reduce inflammation, relieve joint pain, balance hormones, strengthen immunity, alleviate dry eyes, lower cholesterol, promote brain function and much more.
Next, we'll take a deeper look at each of the top benefits of krill oil for eyes, joints, brain, heart health and more.
Krill Oil For Dry Eyes
Suffer from dry eyes? Krill oil can help.
Dry eye syndrome can be a real problem, and although over-the-counter artificial tear drops can bring temporary relief, research suggests that the nutrients in krill oil can get to the root of the issue and help alleviate and provide relief from dry eye.
A 2017 study uncovered that in patients with type 2 diabetes, "omega-3 fatty acids may effectively improve tear film characteristics, reverse ocular surface features, and alleviate the subjective symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome."
Another study also found that krill oil improved dry eye symptoms for 60 participants with mild to moderate dry eye disease (DED) when compared to a placebo. The study concluded that, "omega-3 EFAs in a predominantly phospholipid form (krill oil) may confer additional therapeutic benefit," and that supplementing with omega-3 fats provides "reduced tear osmolarity and increased tear stability" in people with dry eye disease.
Also, krill oil stands out from other omega-3 oil supplements for eye health as it contains astaxanthin, which has also shown promise in combating dry eye. A randomized, double-blind study showed that an oral antioxidant supplement containing astaxanthin "may increase tear production and improve tear film stability by reducing tear ROS."
Krill Oil For Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Research shows that apart from treating dry eye, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA present in krill oil is the "preferred fatty acid" of the retina and the brain, and can help to prevent degenerative eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can cause vision loss and even blindness.
Since "DHA is the predominant structural fatty acid in the central nervous system and retina and its availability is crucial for brain development," a deficiency in DHA can cause not only vision issues but also cognitive problems.
In general, omega-3s are critical to eye health and that getting enough of these essential fats is important to reducing the risk of AMD.
But, apart from its high content of omega-3s, krill oil is also beneficial for AMD for another reason — astaxanthin. This red carotenoid and highly potent antioxidant has shown to be protective against AMD and UV-related ocular damage.
Experts emphasize that astaxanthin is a "supernutrient" that can protect the eyes from degenerative diseases such as "cataracts, macular degeneration, and blindness."
Krill oil also contains Vitamin A which has shown promise in reducing cataracts and even preventing AMD. Vitamin E in krill oil is also essential in controlling oxidative damage and can protect the cells in your eyes from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Since krill oil contains essential omega-3s, astaxanthin, and vitamins A and E, it can potentially provide more protective benefits for vision health than other omega-3 supplements.
Krill Oil For Skin
There's no doubt that omega 3 fats are vital for healthy, glowing skin. They serve as natural skin moisturizers, that work on the skin from the inside, providing better elasticity, increased hydration and more suppleness.
Krill oil is high in two very important omega-3 fatty acids — DHA and EPA. These fats are used in many ways but one of their most important functions is to reduce inflammation.
By helping to reduce inflammation in the body, your skin will be less susceptible to redness and acne breakouts. Inflammation can also affect collagen, which is important in maintaining the skin's firmness, elasticity, and reducing wrinkles.
Also, omega-3s help to protect and hydrate the skin, keeping the skin supple, and more moisturized.
Apart from healthy omega-3s, krill oil also contains vitamins A and E and the highly potent antioxidant, astaxanthin. Vitamin E is known to protect against free radical and oxidative damage, improve the skin's appearance and provide a youthful glow.
Astaxanthin prevents "oxidative stress," and can protect against inflammatory toxins that can irritate and harm the skin.
Krill Oil For Inflammation
The omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil have shown promise in reducing inflammation, making the oil excellent for inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, inflammation of the blood vessels, gout and more.
A 2016 study showed that krill oil controlled inflammation in the intestines caused by bacteria, and concluded that "krill oil may represent an innovative tool to reduce intestinal inflammation."
What's more, krill oil is also more bioavailable and absorbed better by the body, and also contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which has shown to protect "against oxidative and inflammatory damage."
Another study delivered remarkable results by demonstrating that supplementing with 500mg of krill oil twice a day, improved inflammation levels and was even more effective than supplementing with a daily 2000mg "higher dose of purified omega 3."
Even though there are a few studies showing krill oil's anti-inflammatory effects, all have shown favorable results.
Krill Oil For Joints and Arthritis
Since krill oil is beneficial in reducing inflammation, it is an excellent supplement to take if you suffer from inflammation of the joints, causing joint pain, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
Research suggests that krill oil controls inflammation by reducing inflammatory biomarkers called CRP (C-reactive proteins), that respond "favorably to krill oil (a phospholipid-DHA/EPA-astaxanthin complex."
In a randomized, double-blind study of 50 adults ages 38-85 years old, administering with 2g of krill oil daily for one month "improved the subjective symptoms of knee pain in adults with mild knee pain," especially when they were standing or sleeping and also helped to increase their range of motion.
An animal study also showed similar results with mice who were supplemented with krill oil showing "reduced arthritis scores" and "lower infiltration of inflammatory cells" into the joints, which reduced swelling, suggesting that "krill oil may be a useful intervention strategy against the clinical and histopathological signs of inflammatory arthritis."
Due to its unique mix of both omega-3s and astaxanthin, if you suffer from arthritis and joint pain, krill oil would be a beneficial supplement to take.
Krill Oil For Heart Health
Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids offer multiple benefits in controlling blood pressure, cardiac function as well as having "anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative actions," making them "cardioprotective" and assisting in the prevention of heart conditions, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Krill oil is rich in omega-3s, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which have shown "numerous health benefits including lower rates of cardiovascular disease." Since healthy omega-3 fats decrease cholesterol build-up in the arteries, this can significantly impact your blood pressure and may even prevent a heart attack or stroke.
A randomized, double-blind study revealed that supplementing with a daily dose of 1000mg of krill oil helped to reduce "cardiovascular risk factors" in patients that had type 2 diabetes. Since heart disease is often connected to diabetes, krill oil may help to reduce the body's insulin sensitivity and in turn, reduce the risk of diabetes progressing into a heart condition.
Other studies have also demonstrated that krill oil can help to "reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides," and decrease the risk of heart disease through stalling the progression of atherosclerosis (build-up of fats, and hardening of the artery walls).
Although more research is needed, based on the scientific evidence so far, krill oil certainly looks to be beneficial in improving and combating the risk factors associated with heart disease.
Krill Oil For PMS and Hormonal Imbalances
If you suffer from PMS you know how challenging it can be. Irritability, mood swings, fatigue, bloating, anxiety...these are just some of the symptoms women with PMS or premenstrual syndrome experience.
Krill oil has the goodness of essential omega-3 fats that are known to help with hormonal imbalances, decreasing pain and inflammation, and reducing anxiety. These healthy fats can also alleviate issues related to menstrual cramps, irregular cycles, and heavy blood flow.
Studies have shown that supplementing with omega-3 fats can relieve symptoms of dysmenorrhea, or menstrual cramps and painful periods, in adolescents. In certain cases this was also enough to reduce the use of pain medications, like ibuprofen, to control PMS pain.
Although fish oil also contains healthy omega-3s, one study discovered that women who took krill oil over fish oil needed much less pain medication to manage pain, than women who supplemented with fish oil.
Krill Oil For Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Omega-3 fats, especially EPA and DHA, are not synthesized by the body and must be procured from the diet or through oral supplementation.
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is especially important for building immunity, heart health and preventing inflammation.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supports brain health, healthy vision and supports the nervous system, making omega-3 fats highly beneficial for both pregnant and lactating women.
Krill oil has shown to be beneficial in the neurological development of a child's brain, and DHA has especially shown to be crucial for the development of the retina and the brain. Research suggests that DHA "is a major constituent of neuronal and retinal membranes and plays a crucial role in brain and visual development within the first months of life."
A 2018 study showed that mothers of infants who supplemented with krill oil passed on the beneficial omega-3s through breast milk (BM) to their newborn infants. The study concluded that "oral krill oil supplementation effectively increases DHA and EPA contents in BM."
Although krill oil is considered to be safe for consumption for pregnant and lactating women, it is still best to consult with your health care provider before taking any supplements.
Krill Oil For Weight Loss and Obesity
Research suggests that supplementing with krill oil can help to reduce weight gain and improve metabolism, thereby supporting weight management and potentially preventing obesity.
One study showed that when krill powder containing 61.8% krill oil was administered to mildly obese men, it resulted in "a significant decrease in waist/hip ratio and visceral fat/skeletal muscle mass ratio at 24 weeks," possibly preventing the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Other research demonstrated that mice who were fed Antartic krill oil "had less body weight gain" and "less fat accumulation" in adipose and liver tissue. Additionally, krill oil supplementation also improved glucose metabolism and tolerance and decreased oxidative damage in the liver. The results of this study show that krill oil has beneficial effects on both lipid and glucose metabolism, and can help to improve metabolic activity supporting weight loss.
Also, an important point to keep in mind is that all fats are not bad. When your diet lacks essential fats like omega-3s, it can actually slow down your metabolism and lead to weight gain, so supplementing with healthy fats along with maintaining a balanced diet and exercise, should be a part of your weight loss program.
Krill Oil For Diabetes
Unstable blood sugar levels make it difficult for your body to burn fat, and elevated levels may eventually lead to the development of diabetes.
Krill oil has shown to help in the breakdown of glucose in different organs of the body including the liver. This means that if glucose is properly being utilized in the body, there is less streaming through your bloodstream.
Insulin resistance caused by excess fat is a common problem today. One study showed that obese New Zealand white rabbits that were given a diet of krill oil at 600 mg for 2 months reported "reduced fasting blood glucose, and improved glucose tolerance," suggesting that krill oil may prevent or possibly reverse the effects of insulin resistance.
Another study demonstrated that after a month of supplementation with krill oil, insulin resistance, improved in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The important point to note here is that krill oil not only supports blood sugar control but it also helps to improve cardiovascular risk, supporting heart health and overall health and well-being.
Krill Oil For Depression and Anxiety
Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids play a major role in developing and functioning the central nervous system. Emerging research has further shown a connection between these essential fats, especially EPA and DHA, and major depression.
Studies show that mildly depressed adults had 34.6% reduced levels of DHA (found in marine oils, like krill oil), in their adipose tissue as compared to non-depressed adults.
An animal study also showed that a combination of EPA, DHA, and astaxanthin in krill oil can help to facilitate the learning process and "provide antidepressant-like effects," in rats.
A significant amount of research has also shown that deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids can trigger anxiety, depression, sleep difficulties and even mood disorders such as bipolar disorder.
All of these studies showcase that krill oil has the potential to improve mood, reduce anxiety and positively impact your quality of life.
Krill Oil For Brain Health
Known to reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage, the omega-3 fats, especially the combination of EPA and DHA in krill oil can benefit a variety of brain-related conditions including autism dyspraxia, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and dyslexia.
Double-blind, controlled and randomized trials have shown that DHA/EPA combinations can not only benefit "attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and aggression," but also show promise in improving affective disorders such as "major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder, with promising results in schizophrenia and initial benefit for borderline personality disorder.
Continued intake of krill oil has not only shown to speed up the "information-processing rate," but also improved "working memory function" in healthy elderly males after just 3 months of treatment. Preliminary data obtained from this study suggested that krill oil could influence "brain development and mental performance, improving cognition, behavior and mood."
Other studies also support krill oil's ability to improve information retention and enhance cognitive function, due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects.
Since krill oil contains both EPA and DHA along with the potent antioxidant astaxanthin, which fights free radicals and inflammation, it can also help in controlling the risk of developing inflammatory brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Most American diets don't have the right amount of omega-3s needed for healthy brain development, so, therefore, supplementing with krill oil may protect against the risk of cognitive decline by increasing the levels of DHA/EPA required by the body.
Krill Oil For Immunity
The body's immune system is incredibly complex. Due to krill's widely encompassing benefits of keeping inflammation under control and being more bioavailable, krill oil improves immune function by impacting many different organ systems in the body.
Astaxanthin, in krill oil also helps to prevent oxidative damage which further helps to strengthen immunity.
Also, it's important to understand that using krill oil to improve immunity does not just mean preventing a cold or infection, it means that krill oil has far-reaching benefits and when supported with a healthy diet and moderate exercise, it can help you to prevent infection and disease and live a healthy life, with increased vitality and well-being.
Krill Oil For Cancer
There's no doubt that cancer is a major killer in both the developed world and developing countries worldwide.
The idea of using nutrients alongside maintaining a healthy diet, physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices have often been raised to reduce the risk of cancer.
Studies have shown that supplementing with krill oil can trigger apoptosis (cell death) and kill cancer-causing cells. Krill oil has especially shown promise in suppressing cell growth and inducing apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells.
The intake of long-chain fatty acids, such as the ones found in krill oil, can also reduce the risk of both breast and prostate cancer.
Additionally, astaxanthin, the powerful antioxidant in krill oil is known to fight oxidative damage, which can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer.
How to Take Krill Oil Supplements
Taking krill oil supplements is a simple and effective way to increase your DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acid intake. There is no way you can eat that amount of oily fish daily to reach the therapeutic levels necessary to get the optimum levels you need — so supplements are a great choice.
How Much to Take?
Therapeutic doses of krill oil can start at 500mg per day. Higher doses of 1000mg-1500mg are common for reducing triglycerides and dealing with PMS and arthritis. You'll also get the antioxidants you need along with vitamins A and E. Discuss with your healthcare provider to find the proper dosing for your individual needs.
Krill Oil Side Effects
Although krill oil supplements are an excellent source of EPA/DHA, vitamins A, and E and astaxanthin, you should consult with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you are currently on blood thinners you should also consult with your doctor, as at higher doses omega-3 fats may have an anti-clotting effect. Due to this reason, you should also stop taking krill oil at least 2-3 weeks prior to going in for any kind of surgery.
Also, if you are allergic to seafood, avoid krill oil.
How to Buy Krill Oil Supplements
When looking for krill oil supplements, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, all krill oil is not created equal. Authentic krill oil will be labeled as Antarctic krill oil, which refers to the species of krill used to derive the oil, and are usually found in Antarctica.
Second, the way the oil is harvested is important. GoodLifeProvision Krill Oil is naturally harvested Pure Antarctic Krill Oil made from solvent-free krill that is cold-pressed onboard vessel at the time of harvest for freshness and purity. Unlike other krill oils that have been processed through chemical solvents and have lots of weird and far from organic & natural ingredients in them, our Krill Oil is rich in omega fatty acids and antioxidants to help restore your skin, eye & joint health, and help support brain and memory.
Plus we use 145 mg total Omega & Omega-3 Fatty acids to enhance its benefits, making it extremely good for women’s health, immunity and helping to regulate hormonal imbalances.
Why GoodLifeProvision Krill Oil?
- 100% pure formula
- Non-GMO, Gluten-Free
- PURIFIED & MERCURY FREE
- COLD PRESSED onboard vessel at the time of harvest for freshness and purity
- Enhanced with Astaxanthin & Lemon Oil to make your aftertaste experience pleasurable
- Safety Sealed for Your Protection
- Laboratory Tested
- Fanatical One-on-One Support
- Suitable for men & women
- Krill oil obtained from tiny crustaceans is fast gaining a reputation for itself as an alternative to fish oil
- Research suggests that krill oil is more bioavailable and sustainable than fish oil, and contains no mercury, so is naturally non-toxic
- Krill oil supplements are smaller, easier to swallow and don't have a stronger "fishy" aftertaste, making them more tolerable than fish oil
- Krill oil also contains the powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin, excellent to protect against free radical damage and degenerative diseases
- Excellent to use for dry eyes and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), krill oil can help protect the retina and central nervous system
- The oil is a remarkable anti-inflammatory making it effective to use for inflammatory conditions like arthritis and joint pain
- It is also "cardioprotective" and "neuroprotective" making it excellent for heart and brain health
- Containing essential omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, the oil is recommended for PMS, hormonal imbalances and boosting immunity
- When buying krill oil supplements look for Antarctic krill oil that is pure, mercury-free, cold-pressed and non-GMO.