Krill Oil

August 7, 2011


Krill are shrimp-like crustaceans, approximately 1 to 6 centimeters long, which live in the ocean. They feed generally on phytoplankton. They are near the bottom of the food chain. They are eaten by whales, seals, penguins, squid, and fish. Commercial fishing of krills usually occur in the Southern Ocean and the northern Pacific Ocean along the coasts of Canada and Japan. They are caught and used for aquaculture and aquarium feeds, and sport fishing bait. In Japan, krills are caught for food called “okiami”.

Recently, there is an increasing popularity of krill oil not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world because of its potential health benefits. As a result, many people are taking krill oil supplements and capsules for various health reasons.

This research will help the readers understand the potential health benefits of krill oil especially about it as a source of omega-3 for the heart. This article will let you know which is better: krill oil or fish oil. A detailed analysis and comparison of the two will be provided. Since these kinds of health supplements are becoming popular to athletes too, a section with significant information about its effect to athlete’s endurance and performance will be supplied. Lastly, professional heath expert’s opinion and recommendations are likewise available in this article so that readers will have an idea about whether to take krill oil as a nutritional supplement.

What is Krill Oil?

Krill oil refers to oil from a tiny, shrimp-like animal which is primarily eaten by baleen whales, mantas, and whale sharks. Such species of krill are called Euphausia Superb. In Norwegian, the word “krill” means “whale food”. The oil extracted from these krill oils contains important omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, commonly found in fish oils.

Actually, krill is considered to be the largest biomass in the world by most scientists. It is fundamental to the survival of almost every species of animal that lives in the oceans. The oil coming from krill is likewise fundamental to the survival of human lives. It is becoming popular as a nutritional supplement because of its various health benefits. According to Neptune Technologies, a Canadian company that holds the patent for krill oil extraction, there are approximately 500 million tons of krill roaming around in cold ocean areas such as the Antarctic and North Pacific Oceans. Only about 110,000 tons are harvested annually (about .022%) by humans.

Nutritional Facts

Krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids similar to fish oil. These fats are thought to be beneficial fats to decrease swelling, lower cholesterol, and make blood platelets less sticky. When blood platelets are less sticky, they are less likely to form clots.

It also contains phosphatidylcholine or also known as lecithin. This has omega-3 fatty acids attached or conjugated to phospholipids. There are a lot of possible health effects of phosphatidylcholine to humans. It is considered a vital substance in every cell in the human body.

In fact, some researchers have started recommending daily supplementation of phosphatidylcholine to slow down senescence and improve brain function and memory capacity (Hung, et. al., 2001). Some also say that it has healing effect for people with hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Its administration would result in significant reduction of disease activity. Some companies promote the use of injected phosphatidylcholine, or also known as injection lipolysis. They say the procedure can break down fat cells, and be a good alternative to liposuction (Chung, et al, 1995).

Lastly, krill oil has an antioxidant called astaxanthin. It is primarily use for humans as food supplement. Because of its strong antioxidant activity, it may be beneficial in cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Some studies even suggested it as a potential anti-cancer agent (Palozza, et al., 2009). In terms of Oxygen Radical Absorptance Capacity (ORAC) values, the antioxidant potency of krill oil was found to be 48 times more potent than fish oil.

Ultimate Source of Omega 3

Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known to be essential fatty acids necessary for human health. They can usually be found in fish like salmon, tuna, and halibut, and other seafood including algae and krill. They can likewise be found in some plants and nut oils. They are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that play a vital role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. Most importantly, they are popular because intake of these may reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish and seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least 2 times a week.

Medical researchers have identified krill oil to be a superior source of omega-3 fatty acids to fish oils. They found it to be healthier, safer, more potent, and more absorbable. According to Layne Lowery, President of Health Resources™, a manufacturer of high-quality nutritional supplements, krill oil contains a healthy balance of both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids which help fight infection and prevent other inflammation-related ailments like heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. By taking krill oil, you can protect your heart and brain development.

Potential Benefits

Anti-inflammatory effects

If you are suffering from creaking, cracking joints, stiff hands and fingers, or even lingering back pain or sore swollen legs due to recurrent inflammation, then krill oil could help you alleviate these symptoms. In the book entitled, “The Healing Power of Neptune Krill Oil”, written by Tina Sampalis, a study of 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis were administered 300 mg of krill oil. It was found out that after only seven days, inflammation was reduced by 19 percent, pain was reduced 24 percent, stiffness was reduced by 21 percent, and immobility was reduced by 16 percent.

Healthy Cholesterol Control

Many studies have proven that high total cholesterol and high “bad” LDL cholesterol can be major risk factors for heart problems. In one study, 120 people were given krill oil, fish oil or a placebo. Krill oil reduced LDL (commonly referred to as “bad”) cholesterol by 34% and increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol by 43.5% compared to the placebo. In comparison, fish oil reduced LDL cholesterol by 4.6% and increased HDL cholesterol by 4.2%. Krill also lowered triglycerides levels.

For example, a study made at McGrill University in Montreal confirmed that krill oil helps lower bad cholesterol levels. They divided the 120 participants, who were diagnosed with high cholesterol levels, into four groups: Group A was given .5 – 1.5 grams of krill oil daily; Group B was given 2 – 3 grams of krill oil daily; Group C was given 3 grams of fish oil daily and Group D was given a placebo. Results showed that those people who took 500mg only of krill oil supplements daily achieved 300 percent improvement in cholesterol levels compared to patients taking 3 grams of fish oil.

Good for the Heart

A study which was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition conducted a research about the benefits of krill oil to those who have heart problems. It measured the presence of C-Reactive Protein (a.k.a CRP) levels in the blood. Examining one’s CRP levels is one way to measure the risk of heart damage. Findings showed that krill oil can actually reduce heart-damaging inflammation. In fact, the group that had been taking 300 mg of krill oil daily had their CRP levels reduced by 19.3 percent after seven days and even dropped further by 29.7 percent after 14 days.

PMS Syndrome

Approximately, 90 percent of women experience the recurring symptoms of PMS including cramps, water retention, bloating, weight gain and emotional mood swings.  Krill oil has been proven to relieve these symptoms. Researchers in Montreal studied the effects of krill oil on PMS and found out that krill oil can ease abdominal pain and uterine cramps, relieve nausea, bloating and fatigue, lessen headaches as well as joint and body aches, reduce PMS-related breast tenderness, improve erratic mood swings and food cravings, and most importantly, help prevent menstrual-related feelings such as anxiety, depression and stress.

Skin Health

A study was made where 13 people with sun sensitivity known as photo dermatitis were the subjects of the study. Results showed that these people got less sensitivity to UV rays after taking krill oil supplements. In the book entitled, “Prescription for Natural Cures” by John Wiley and Sons (2004), James Balch, MD, and Mark Stengler, ND, say that essential fatty acids are helpful for addressing acne and reducing skin inflammation. A three-month krill study on 120 people, results showed that there is a 50 percent improvement in hydration, tone of skin, tone of hair, appearance of wrinkles (Bittiner, et al., 1988).

Fight Signs of Aging

Various Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) tests have proven krill oil to more effectively repair aging cells than other antioxidants. Actually, independent laboratory tests confirmed that krill oil contains an ORAC value of 431 while fish oil has an ORAC value of only 8. Surprisingly, krill oil has over 50 times more ORAC power than fish oil. Research studies concluded that patients especially women who took krill oil for three months reported significant improvement in the texture of their skin, nails and hair. In addition, these women reported a 60 percent reduction in wrinkles and fine lines and a 50 percent improvement in energy, stamina, mental alertness and concentration.


A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition examined krill oil (300 mg daily) compared to a placebo and found that krill oil was effective at reducing arthritis symptoms and inflammation. In 2007, Luisa Deutsch conducted a study where ninety patients were recruited with confirmed diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and/or rheumatoid arthritis and/or osteoarthritis and with increased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). They found out from the study that Krill oil can significantly reduce joint pains, inflammation and increase the flexibility of the joints. It has also shown to alleviate symptoms caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (Deutsch, 2007).

Differences between Krill Oil and Fish Oil

A lot of studies prove that krill oil has many health benefits including improvement in one’s overall health by strengthening the immune system, optimizing kidney function, regulating the body’s hormone levels, elevating your mood and emotional wellbeing, balancing blood sugar levels, regulating blood pressure levels, supporting eye health, boosting your energy and many more.

Furthermore, Woman’s World Magazine reported that women who took krill oil for three months had significant mental and physical developments such as 51 percent boost in energy, alertness, memory, concentration and stamina. Almost 100 percent of women described their experience after taking krill oil supplements as having a greater sense of well-being and happiness plus a 31 percent reduction in aches and body pains. Below is a summary of the differences between krill and fish oil.



Effect on Athletic Performance

Krill oil contains astaxanthin which stabilizes cell membrane like a bridge. Its polar end groups span the cell membrane thereby increasing rigidity and mechanical strength. This accelerates muscle healing for active body builders and athletes and even lessens the soreness for those who get sore easily when doing strenuous or high intensity exercises. In other words, krill oil can enhance athletic performance in both strength and endurance.

Taking krill oil supplements boosts your immune system, improves mental clarity, increases energy and improves athletic performance. It offers vital nutrients to our body which are required for continued, strong growth and maintenance of human body’s cells, tissues, and organs. Its benefits regarding inflammatory issues such as joint pain, back pain and arthritis could help your training and improve your quality of life.

Expert Recommendation

Due to increasing popularity of krill oil, many people have started consuming krill oil capsules and medicines without studying its daily krill oil dosage. Although it poses less risks of over dosage, it is still wise to know and follow the experts recommended intake so that you benefit the most from this supplement. Doctors usually advise a krill oil dosage depending on different factors including age, gender, any medical complications, diseases, allergy, etc. Other factors like health, weight and height are also considered.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a recommended dosage for omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA. These fatty acids daily intake should not be more than 2 grams (2000mg) per day. A typical krill oil dosage recommendation is 1-3 grams per day which depends on one’s body type and rate of metabolism.

Its daily dosage is likewise dependant on one’s body structure. For people with smaller framed bodies, it is advisable to take 2 grams of krill oil supplements. For people with a medium and average body type, 1.5 grams per day is advisable which can then be lowered to 1 gram after a few weeks. A daily dosage for a healthy person would be 2000 mg or 2 grams. Lastly, people with large body frames, should consider a daily dosage of 1 – 1.5 grams of krill oil. It could be later lowered to 1 gram per day after a month as maintainable dose. For children, you must consult a doctor for its dosage because only doctors can recommend a daily dosage for kids.

Krill oil is well-known to have little or no toxicity. This definitely makes it safer than any other omega-3 fatty acids sources. However, there are also side effects of krill oil which include nausea, stomach upset, digestive distress, and heartburn. For people with conditions like pregnancy and nursing, allergies and bleeding problems, it is strictly advised to consult your doctor before consumption as it may pose complications and risks.

Krill oil has lots of health benefits if you know how to properly use and maximize its potential. As what Dr. Tina Sampalis M.D., Ph.D. says, “I call … Krill Oil nature’s perfect recipe. It’s like what nature intended for humans by putting it in a small and plentiful marine animal.”







Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Feb;26(1):39-48.

Sampalis, T. (2005). The Healing Power of Neptune Krill Oil.

Deutsch, L. (2007). Evaluation of the Effect of Neptune Krill Oil on Chronic

Inflammation and Arthritic Symptoms. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. American College of Nutrition. Vol. 26, No. 1, 39–48. Retrieved on

Bunea R, El Farrah K, Deutsch L.Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia. Altern Med Rev. (2004) 9.4: 420-428.


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