Krill oil: benefits, side effects, dosages and interactions


Krill oil is an oil derived from a shrimp crustacean called krill. Omega-3 rich oil contains two of the same essential fatty acids as fish oil (eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docosahexaenoic acid or DHA). The EPA and DHA in krill oil are reported to have a higher bioavailability (absorption rate) compared to fish oil because most of the EPA and DHA in krill oil is associated with phospholipids .

For many years, people have been taking fish oil supplements to get the essential fatty acids found inside, and more and more people are turning to krill oil as an alternative. Its rise in popularity has raised some concerns about sustainability.

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What is krill oil used for?

Krill oil is often used for the same reasons as fish oil: to improve heart health and fight inflammation. Compared to fish oil, krill oil contains more astaxanthin, a carotenoid pigment that gives krill and other crustaceans their characteristic reddish-pink color. Unlike many other antioxidant substances, preliminary studies have shown that astaxanthin can cross the blood-brain barrier. and protects the brain and central nervous system from free radical damage .

Outbreak health

More research is needed to discover the effects of krill oil on heart health. The study, published in The Alternative Medicine Review , studied 120 people with hyperlipidemia (too much fat in the blood) who received one of the following: a daily dose of 2 to 3 grams (g) of krill oil; 1 to 1.5 g of krill oil; fish oil containing 180 milligrams (mg) of EPA and 120 mg of DHA or placebo Krill oil doses were based on body mass index (BMI).

Krill oil (1 to 3 g / day) was found to be effective in lowering total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol compared to fish oil and placebo.

A 2011 study published in the journal Lipids compared the effects of krill oil (543 mg of EPA and DHA combined), fish oil (864 mg of EPA and DHA combined), or no supplement in people with normal or slightly high cholesterol. . After seven weeks of supplementation, there was an increase in the blood levels of EPA and DHA in both the krill and fish oil groups, but there were no significant changes in any of the blood lipids or markers of oxidative stress and inflammation. .


A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared krill oil (300 mg per day) to a placebo and found that 30 days of krill oil supplements were effective in reducing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and protein C-reactive (a marker of inflammation). In particular , there was a decrease in symptoms from 20.3 to 28.9 percent and a decrease in the use of emergency medications from 31.6 percent.

According to a 2007 review, taking 1g of krill oil twice a day for 90 days led to a significant reduction in symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) , which is believed to be one of the leading causes of inflammation. This is promising, but more research is needed.

Possible side effects.

Krill oil side effects can include :

  • Loose stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Swelling
  • Oily skin

Krill oil is not known to cause the fishy aftertaste or burp that often occurs with fish oil.

Interaction and contraindications.

People with bleeding disorders and those taking medications or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding, such as aspirin, warfarin, heparin, clopidogrel, garlic, ginkgo biloba, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, should only use Krill oil under medical supervision .

People with a shellfish allergy should not consume krill oil. It should also not be taken two weeks before or after surgery.

The safety of the supplements for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children has not been established. Similarly , it is not known if there are other medical conditions or medications that may contraindicate the use of krill oil. It is best to speak with your healthcare professional before taking this supplement.

Dosage and preparation

Krill oil supplements are generally available in capsule form at most stores. The capsule dose is calculated so that you can take 1 to 3 g of oil per day. Sometimes dosages are based on EPA and DHA content.

To begin to see the benefits of krill oil supplements, it may be necessary to take the capsules continuously twice a day for 8-12 weeks. This is what is known as a tonic, not an acute supplement. That is, it must be included in your regular diet so that you can experience the positive effects over time.

Due to the more effective bioavailability of krill oil, 660 mg of EPA and DHA from krill oil may be sufficient to achieve the same effects as 1000 mg of EPA and DHA from fish oil.

What to look for

The recent popularity of krill oil supplements has raised serious concerns that they could threaten the populations of their predators, including penguins, seals, and whales .

In addition to food additives, commercial krill is used in aquaculture and aquariums, in sport fishing lures, and as food. In Japan, krill is considered a delicacy called okiami. In 2010, Whole Foods Market stopped selling krill oil supplements, citing environmental concerns .

It is important to buy krill oil supplements that are certified organic. Please note the label confirming that the krill oil contained in the product comes from an environmentally sustainable fishery certified by MSC and Friends of the Sea. This will ensure that fishing methods are monitored by the Commission for the Conservation of Living Resources Antarctic marine. working to protect 1.5 million square kilometers of krill habitat in collaboration with 24 countries and the European Union.

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