Krill Oil - The Real Facts
By R. Morgan Griffin
Reviewed By David C. Leopold, MD
Krill oil comes from krill, tiny shrimp-like creatures that live in very
cold ocean waters. Krill oil might have health benefits similar to those of
Why do people take krill oil?
Krill oil contains EPA and DHA, the same omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil,
although usually in smaller amounts. The effects of krill oil have not been
researched as thoroughly as those of fish oil. But a few preliminary
studies suggest that krill oil could be superior in some ways. Krill oil
might be better absorbed in the body than fish oil.
One study of krill oil found that it was more effective than fish oil in
improving cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood glucose.
Another study found that krill oil, like omega-3s in general, could improve
rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis symptoms such as pain, stiffness,
and functional impairment. It also lowered levels of C-reactive protein, a
marker for inflammation in the body that's been linked with heart disease.
In addition, krill oil seems to ease PMS symptoms. One study found that
women who took it needed fewer painkillers.
Because studies indicate that the fatty acid DHA may benefit a developing
child's brain, krill oil is sometimes taken by pregnant women or given to
As krill oil becomes more popular, some scientists are concerned about the
environmental impact of large-scale krill harvesting. Krill are an
important food source for many animals, including whales, seals, and
penguins and other birds.
How much krill oil should you take?
Since krill oil is not an established treatment, there's no standard dose.
Some studies have used between 1 to 3 grams per day, sometimes with a
maintenance dosage of 500 milligrams daily. Talk to your doctor about what
might make sense for you.
Can you get krill oil naturally from foods?
The only source of krill oil is krill.
What are the risks of taking krill oil?
- Side effects. Krill oil seems to cause few side effects. Some people
might have gas, bloating, or diarrhea.
- Risks. Check with a doctor before using krill oil if you have a bleeding
disorder or a seafood allergy. Krill oil can slow blood clotting, and
shouldn't be taken for two weeks before surgery.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor
before you start using krill oil supplements. Like other omega-3 fatty
acids, krill oil may cause increased risk of bleeding and should be used
with caution, especially if you are taking anti-coagulant medications
(blood thinners). Since krill oil interferes with the blood's ability to
clot, it could interact with medicines such as blood thinners,
anti-platelet drugs, and weight loss medicines. The same risks might apply
to taking krill oil while using supplements such as ginkgo biloba, garlic,
Although some pregnant women and children take krill oil for brain
development and cognitive function, studies have not yet proven it safe for
long-term use in sensitive populations. Consult with a doctor before taking
krill oil if you are pregnant or planning to give it to a child.
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Commonly Asked Question:
I take a plant-based omega supplement. Do I need to take Krill Oil?
If you are taking a Plant-based omega-3 source such as flax, hemp, and
chia seeds are high in ALA, but low in EPA and DHA. Most of your health
benefits associated with omega-3 fats are linked to animal-based
omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA, not plant-based omega-3 fats like ALA.
ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only at a very low
ratio. Even if you eat large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert
very small amounts into EPA and DHA, and only when sufficient enzymes
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