Krill oil for cholesterol

Contents

Will Krill Oil Lower Cholesterol?

Q1. I’ve been hearing a lot about the benefits of krill oil — what is it, and how can it help lower my cholesterol? — Winnie, Hawaii

As many of you know, I am a big proponent of omega-3 fish oil. Not only do I take an omega-3 supplement myself, but I recommend it to many, if not most, of my patients. Omega-3s have been shown to play a key role in heart health, from reducing triglycerides and blood pressure to inhibiting inflammation.

In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz about krill oil being even better than fish oil for heart health, and I have to say I am intrigued. This marine oil, which is produced from shrimplike krill harvested from Antarctic waters, not only contains significant amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, but also phospholipids (which are integral to the building of cell membranes) and potent antioxidants, including astaxanthin, a carotenoid from the nutrient family that includes beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene.

Krill oil has become widely touted not only because it may help to lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol, but also because it could help with arthritic joint pain and the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Apparently it is only the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) — not just any krill (there are 85 species identified worldwide) — that is the source of the powerful oil.

So how does krill oil work for reducing cholesterol? No one is quite sure. But in a 12-week study involving 120 men and women ages 25 to 75, Canadian researchers tested the effects of krill oil (Neptune krill oil was used in the study) vs. fish oil on elevated blood lipid levels and found that it outperformed fish oil in reducing total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels — while, at the same time, increasing amounts of “good” HDL cholesterol. In the study, a dose of 1 to 1.5 grams of Neptune krill oil a day was significantly more successful at lowering LDL and triglyceride levels than a dose of fish oil three times greater (3 grams). Krill oil at higher doses (3 grams) also lowered blood triglycerides, while fish oil did not. The researchers theorize that it is the unique molecular structure of krill oil that gives it its potent effects.

In general, fish oil has not been found to lower LDL cholesterol unless it is substituted for dietary saturated fat that, by itself, increases LDL. I would not recommend krill oil or other omega-3s for the purpose of lowering LDL, and you should consult your physician before considering it. But as a way of increasing your overall intake of omega-3s, with some other potential health benefits, it looks promising.

You can purchase krill oil in capsule form at most vitamin shops or online. (It is not yet available in grocery stores.) Unlike fish oil, it does not become rancid at room temperature, and causes no fishy “burps.” I suggest looking for a product that contains Neptune krill oil (NKO), since it is the krill oil that was used in the cholesterol study. A dose of 1,000 milligrams of krill oil a day could prove useful for lowering total cholesterol and improving triglycerides. A dose of 500 milligrams once a day may help you maintain good cholesterol levels once you achieve them. If you’re already taking a statin, however, don’t stop in favor of krill oil.

Q2. I try to use a lot of olive oil when I cook, but I’m a little bored with it. What other oils can I try that are both flavorful and good for my heart?

I’m glad to hear that you’re a fan of monounsaturated olive oil. Not only do I love foods lightly sautéed in it myself, but I’m a big fan of a little extra-virgin olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar on my salads as well. Keep in mind, however, that as good as unsaturated oils are, like all oils they are relatively high in calories (120 per tablespoon). If you are trying to lose weight, limit your intake of oils to a few tablespoons daily. Here are a few other heart-healthy unsaturated oils that you might want to try:

Avocado oil: Pressed from the fleshy pulp surrounding the avocado pit, this nutty-flavored oil, like olive oil, is rich in monounsaturated fats. It has a high smoke point, which makes it good for sautéing or stir-frying fish, chicken, or vegetables. It’s also delicious in vinaigrette dressings or drizzled over vegetables.

Grapeseed oil: Extracted from the seeds of grapes, and typically imported from France, Italy, or Switzerland, this oil also has a high smoke point, which makes it good for sautéing or stir-frying. It is equally delicious in salad dressings. Some of the imported oils have a rather grape-y flavor, but many are quite bland or even nutty tasting. Try a few to see what you like best.

Nut oils: The good thing about nut oils, such as almond, hazelnut, macadamia, peanut, pecan, pistachio, and walnut oils, is that they provide the same monounsaturated fats that are found in the nuts themselves (but they don’t contain the fiber). Since overheating will diminish the flavor of nut oils, avoid sautéing and use them instead in salad dressings or drizzled over cooked pasta or vegetables. Nut oils can go rancid quickly, so store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

Pumpkin seed oil: Made from roasted pumpkin seeds, this very flavorful, dark green, opaque oil is best used in combination with lighter oils for sautéing or in salad dressings. It can also be used undiluted to add a distinctive flavor to fish or steamed vegetables.

Safflower oil: I know you wanted recommendations for flavorful oils, but I recommend using relatively flavorless safflower oil because it contains more polyunsaturated fats than any other oil. It also has a high smoke point, which makes it fine for sautéing or stir-frying. You can mix it with more flavorful oils for heart-healthy salad dressings, too.

KRILL OIL

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  • Multi-center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, monotherapy study of Neptune Krill oil (NKO™) in early stage Alzheimer’s disease. 2009;
  • Sampalis F, Bunea R, Pelland MF, et al. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea. Altern Med Rev 2003;8:171-9. View abstract.
  • Tandy S, Chung RW, Wat E, et al. Dietary krill oil supplementation reduces hepatic steatosis, glycemia, and hypercholesterolemia in high-fat-fed mice. J Agric Food Chem 10-14-2009;57:9339-45. View abstract.
  • Ulven SM, Kirkhus B, Lamglait A, et al. Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers. Lipids 2011;46:37-46. View abstract.
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  • Wakeman MP. An open-label pilot study to assess the effectiveness of krill oil with added vitamins and phytonutrients in the relief of symptoms of PMS. Nutrition Dietary Suppl 2013:5;17-25.

Do Omega-3s Lower Cholesterol?

It is one of the most popular questions asked about omega-3s— do they lower cholesterol? The simple answer is no, they don’t lower cholesterol. But they do have an impact on other risk factors related to heart disease, such as triglycerides, blood pressure and the Omega-3 Index.

Unfortunately there are articles out there that continue to say that omega-3s do lower cholesterol, so we would like to set the record straight.

First of all, let’s talk about what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance produced by the body to help it make hormones as well as nutrients like vitamin D. It is produced by the liver and found all over the body, especially in the blood.

Cholesterol becomes problematic when there is too much low-density (LDL) lipoprotein in your arteries. Here it can form plaques, which narrow the arteries and impede blood flow. Lack of blood flow to the heart could eventually result in a heart attack or stroke.

WATCH: Dr. Bill Harris Answers the question: Do omega-3s lower cholesterol?

Unfortunately our modern diets are rife with substances that can overwhelm the body. Cholesterol is one of them. The body makes all of the cholesterol it needs from the liver. Any additional cholesterol will combine with our body’s cholesterol to form plaque, which clogs the body’s arteries. When the situation gets out of control, doctors either order cholesterol-lowering medicines likes statins or surgical interventions like stents.

This has been standard of care for several decades. However, recent research is calling into question whether or not cholesterol levels should even factor into heart disease diagnosis and treatment.

Research published in August last year comprehensively reviewed current literature, disputing LDL cholesterol as one of the root causes of cardiovascular disease. So, even if omega-3s could lower cholesterol, it may not even matter.

Omega-3s & Triglycerides

Cholesterol aside, triglycerides are also blood fats that in high numbers can wreak havoc on the arteries. Like cholesterol, it too races around in the blood but its primary purpose is to provide energy.

Triglycerides are produced when the body converts calories it doesn’t immediately use. Instead, they are stored in fat cells and released between meals as a source of energy.

High triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia) can occur if you take in more calories than you are burning. The typical ranges for triglycerides are:

  • Normal: less than 150 mg/dL
  • Borderline high: 150-199 mg/dL
  • High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
  • Very high: 500 mg/dL or above

The science behind omega-3s and their ability to lower triglycerides is pretty solid. In fact, a 2009 systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that omega-3s produce a clinically significant reduction in triglycerides, but not total, LDL or HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

Omega-3s & Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association (AHA) says blood pressure is the result of two forces: The first force (systolic pressure) occurs as blood pumps out of the heart and into the arteries that are part of the circulatory system. The second force (diastolic pressure) is created as the heart rests between heart beats.

High blood pressure can increase the workload of the heart and arteries, which over time can damage the delicate tissues inside the arteries. Cholesterol can also form plaques that further narrow the arteries and raise blood pressure, perpetuating a vicious cycle that could lead to arrhythmia, heart attack and stroke.

The AHA refers to blood pressure as a silent killer because it quietly causes damage that can slowly but surely threaten your health. The best prevention, AHA explains, is knowing your blood pressure numbers and monitoring them on a regular basis.

WATCH: How high is too high when it comes to blood pressure?

Another simple modification could be adding more omega-3s to your diet. A few years back, research published in the American Journal of Hypertension stated that omega-3s are just as effective for lowering blood pressure as exercise, dietary changes and reducing alcohol consumption.

Another study published last July in Hypertension showed that the level of omega-3s in the blood is inversely related to blood pressure levels in healthy young adults. In other words, the more omega-3s present, the lower the blood pressure.

The study evaluated 2036 healthy young adults between the ages of 25 and 41. Anyone with cardiovascular disease, known diabetes or a body mass index (BMI) higher than 35 kg/m was excluded. Blood levels were measured using the Omega-3 Index. The average Omega-3 Index was 4.58%. An ideal Omega-3 Index is 8% or higher.

Compared with individuals in the lowest Omega-3 Index quartile, individuals in the highest had a systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) that was 4 and 2 mmHg lower, respectively.

Move Over Cholesterol

Originally proposed in 2004 by Dr. Bill Harris, PhD, the Omega-3 Index is simply a measure of the two most important omega-3s in your diet — EPA an DHA. There are omega-3s in salmon where they are delivered along with other important nutrients like selenium and vitamin D. But you can also get omega-3s without the fish in the form of dietary supplements. Typically the omega-3s in supplements come from fish oil, krill oil or algal oil.

Research shows that intakes of these fatty acids are independently associated with increased risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD). In randomized secondary prevention trials, fish or fish oil have been demonstrated to reduce total and CHD mortality at intakes of about 1 g/day.

Dr. Harris says the Omega-3 Index fulfills many of the requirements for a risk factor, including consistent epidemiologic evidence, a plausible mechanism of action, a reproducible assay, independence from classic risk factors, modifiability, and, most important, the demonstration that raising levels will reduce risk for cardiac events. In other words, it could be just as important, if not more so, than your cholesterol level.

The Omega-3 Index risk zones are:

  • High Risk = <4%
  • Intermediate risk = 4–8%
  • Low risk = >8%

To establish the Omega-3 Index as a risk factor, Dr. Harris and his colleagues conducted clinical and laboratory experiments to generate data necessary for the validation of the Omega-3 Index as a CHD risk predictor. The relationship between this putative marker and risk for CHD death, especially sudden cardiac death (SCD), was then evaluated in several published primary and secondary prevention studies.

When Dr. Harris proposed the Omega-3 Index several years ago, he said it represents a novel, physiologically relevant, easily modified, independent, and graded risk factor for death from CHD that could have significant clinical utility.

WATCH: Dr. Harris explains why it’s important to test your omega-3 levels.

Will Krill Oil Improve My Cholesterol?

You’ve probably seen fish oil supplements alongside the vitamins on your grocery store or health food store shelves. Maybe you take fish oil yourself because of the many health benefits associated with the omega-3 fatty acids it contains.

Did you know that there’s another similar product out there that may be as effective or more effective than fish oil at lowering your cholesterol?

Krill is a protein-rich seafood, and its oil is sold around the world as a health supplement. Can krill oil really help lower cholesterol?

What are krill?

Krill are tiny, shrimplike crustaceans. They’re found in oceans around the world, but the krill found around Antarctica are the hot commodities these days. They’re known as filter feeders that eat algae. Many predators, including whales, squids, seals, and even penguins, eat krill.

They’re also scooped up and canned like tuna in some countries. In the United States, krill are still primarily sold in processed, soft pill form as a supplement aimed at lowering your total cholesterol and helping to reduce inflammation.

Know your total cholesterol

Total cholesterol is made up of three parts:

  • low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol
  • high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol
  • 20 percent of your triglyceride levels

Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are a type of fat that circulates in your bloodstream. High levels of triglycerides and high total cholesterol numbers are considered risk factors for heart disease.

You can find out your total cholesterol and all of its various components as part of your annual blood work. If you have any questions about your total cholesterol and your triglycerides in particular, ask your doctor or make an appointment to get a standard blood test soon.

Krill and cholesterol

The impact off krill on triglycerides and total cholesterol hasn’t been extensively studied. There are indications that those tiny krill may help keep you from having cardiovascular problems, however.

Krill and fish oil both contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are two important types of omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA have been shown to help reduce triglycerides and inflammation, which can harm the health of your blood vessels. Krill oil also contains a phospholipid, which is more easily absorbed by your body than fish oil.

Research published in Pharmacy & Therapeutics found that a daily dose of 1 to 3 grams of krill oil lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides more effectively than the same dose of regular fish oil. This amount (1 to 3 grams) of krill oil is considered a standard daily dose.

You may want to take a krill oil pill with a full meal to reduce the possibility of stomach irritation. You may be able to take krill oil at any time of day without side effects, however.

Krill solution is not for everyone

While krill oil may help individuals lower their total cholesterol a little, it shouldn’t be considered the primary treatment for high cholesterol.

Statin medications are usually well tolerated by most users. They’re also proven to be effective at managing cholesterol and bringing down LDL cholesterol. Statins may also help lower triglycerides.

For many people, taking krill oil every day will have little negative impact. It can leave a fishy taste in your mouth or make you a little gassy.

The much more serious concern is how krill oil might interact with other drugs you take.

If you take blood thinners, also known as anticoagulants and antiplatelets, to help prevent blood clots, krill oil supplements may increase your chances of bleeding problems. In other words, it may help make your blood a little “too thin” so that you bleed more than you should if you get a cut or bruise.

If you take a blood thinner, talk with your doctor first before trying krill oil or fish oil. Improving your cholesterol profile may also include:

  • lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise
  • weight loss, if you’re overweight or obese
  • a heart-healthy diet
  • quitting smoking
  • statins or other medications that lower cholesterol

Krill oil hasn’t been studied as extensively as fish oil supplements, so while it looks like it may be a promising supplement for managing your cholesterol levels, it’s possible that krill oil isn’t as beneficial as it might appear. There don’t appear to be any great risks, though.

If your doctor thinks krill oil is safe for you, consider trying the supplements and see what happens to your cholesterol levels.

The Truth About 4 Popular Heart Health Supplements

“Some people try supplements instead of prescription medications because they think it’s a safer way to address health issues,” he says. “But many of those supplements don’t benefit the heart like people think.”

Fish Oil

Advocates of fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids (nutrients found in foods such as fish that are important for normal metabolism) say they’re good for heart health and prevent heart attacks , strokes , heart failure and coronary heart disease . But there is no substantial evidence that proves over-the-counter fish oil supplements can do any of those things.

Prescription fish oils are used in medical practice. However, they’re prescribed to help people with severe triglyceride disorders, not high cholesterol. Omega-3 therapy with prescription fish oil can reduce triglycerides by 30 to 50 percent in those with levels that are at 500 mg/dL or more, and who are at an increased risk of getting pancreatitis.

“Typically, you wouldn’t get that kind of triglyceride lowering with over-the-counter supplements. That’s because the dose of active ingredients is substantially less than what’s in prescription fish oil and can even be less than advertised,” Martin says. “Over-the-counter fish oil supplements may also contain large amounts of other unwanted saturated fats, which could increase your bad cholesterol.”

Over-the-counter supplements aren’t regulated for quality and contents, so you don’t know what you’re really getting. Rather than taking a supplement, Martin notes that eating a heart-healthy diet that includes fish, unsaturated fats and limited simple sugars, and performing regular physical activity, is the safest way to control triglycerides and cholesterol.

Red Yeast Rice

Red yeast rice is used in foods such as Peking duck and in Chinese medicine. When red rice is fermented with certain strains of yeast, it creates a very low-dose statin. Statin drugs are commonly prescribed for reducing high levels of bad cholesterol.

Although some people want to take red yeast rice because they feel it’s more natural and safer than prescription statin drugs, it’s not regulated by the FDA or tested in any way to make sure it’s safe.

“I don’t feel comfortable recommending red yeast rice because each formulation may vary in strength and have other unknown contaminants that could be toxic,” says Martin.

An analysis of red yeast rice supplements found that four out of 11 products contained a substance called citrinin. This develops during the culturing process if the environment isn’t carefully controlled. Citrinin has been found to cause kidney failure in animals and genetic damage in human cells.

On the other hand, prescription statins are heavily regulated and have a proven track record of being safe and well tolerated by the vast majority of people.

CoQ10 Supplements

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a nutrient produced by the body and used for cellular energy, is often touted as being vital if you’re taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol. Proponents of CoQ10 say it helps reduce muscle pain, which can be a side effect of statin use, and is an important energy source that the body needs.

“No solid evidence supports benefits of taking CoQ10 supplementation while taking statins,” Martin says. “If you’re taking statin drugs and have muscle aches, the next step is talking to your doctor about changing your prescription.”

There are several different statin drugs and they can be given at various doses. Finding the one that works for you is a better route than taking a supplement to try to counteract ill effects of your current prescription.

Aspirin

When cholesterol and other substances build up on your artery walls, they create something called plaque, which narrows the passageways and restricts blood flow. Even worse is when a blood clot forms on a ruptured plaque and blocks the artery entirely, cutting off the flow of oxygen to part of your body. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to your heart is cut off. When the blocked artery leads to your brain, a stroke is the result.

Studies show that aspirin can help prevent heart attacks and strokes caused by blood clots because it reduces your blood’s ability to form clots. “Taking a low-dose aspirin is most effective if you’ve already had a heart attack or stroke. Also, if you’ve had a stent or heart surgery, you should be on platelet blocking therapy,” advises Martin. “But if you’re someone who is more likely to have heart disease because of certain risk factors, you may or may not need aspirin therapy. It’s an individualized decision to make together with your health care provider.”

Talking to your doctor before starting any new supplement or taking aspirin is always advised. Your health care provider can offer insight about whether they are right for you.

Interaction between omega-3 fatty acids, statins for heart health explored in review

A new review1 published in the journal Nutrients examined whether the combination of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a statin drug has a beneficial or negative interaction for cardiovascular health. While both statins and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids possess heart-health benefits, including decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, respectively, the effects of concomitant use of statins and omega-3s are not well understood. Ultimately, the review found that the combination of omega-3s and statins for heart health can sometimes be complementary, but can also be antagonistic. The authors note that further intervention studies are needed to explore the interaction.

Statins, which are classified as anti-dyslipidemic drugs, have been shown to potentially reduce the instances of cardiovascular disease and mortality by reducing LDL cholesterol. Dyslipidemia is an abnormal amount of lipids, including triglycerides, cholesterol, and fat phospholipids in the blood.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, meanwhile, may help to reduce triglycerides, although the authors note that “the mechanisms of action are not completely understood; however, it is thought that a combination of reduced triglyceride synthesis and increased oxidation of triglycerides induced by act to lower circulating triglyceride concentrations.”

The authors also note that omega-3 and statins have a few overlapping commonalities. These include their ability to enhance endothelial nitric oxide synthesis, inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and lower of LDL cholesterol by repressing active and mRNA expression of the 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA) enzyme. Thus, in this review, the authors sought to examine the complementary or competing effects of combined use of statins and omega-3s.

The authors cite clinical studies which investigated the effect of various statins with omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. In those studies, the combination of omega-3s and statins decreased patients’ triglycerides, total cholesterol, and thrombotic potential compared to statin-only. The authors concluded that, in general, concomitant therapy with statin medication and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is complementary. In addition to the combination’s potential for lowering triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, it may also lower LDL cholesterol particle size, which results in a more favorable lipoprotein distribution.

On the other hand, existing data also indicates that there may be antagonistic effects of concomitant use of statins and omega-3s. First, statins and omega-3 fatty acids interact to modulate fatty acid synthesis and metabolism. However, “pleiotropic effects of statins and overlap,” the authors write. “For example, cytochrome P450 enzymes that metabolize statins may affect omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism and vice versa.” Statins may also alter the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which could increase pro-inflammatory eicosanoids and contribute to atherosclerosis.
Further, statins may cause a mitochondrial ubiquinone deficiency, which blocks the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to precondition myocytes, or muscle cells. This reduces their effectiveness in reducing cardiac arrhythmias.

Finally, while both statins and omega-3 fatty acids block HMG-CoA reductase, omega-3 fatty acids block HMG-CoA reductase albeit less effectively, which results in a smaller effect size for the combination.

Both omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and statins are recommended for prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the authors conclude, although each nutrient has a distinct mode of action. And, while there are overlapping characteristics in the heart-health effects of omega-3 fatty acids and statins, “prospective intervention studies that stratify for statin use are warranted to explore the interaction further.”

Also read:

Are Omega-3 Supplements Heart-Healthy?

American Heart Association Recommends Omega-3 Supplements for Secondary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease

Industry Associations Respond to Meta-Analysis of Omega-3 and Heart Disease Research

By the way, doctor: Is krill oil better for the heart than fish oil?

Published: June, 2010

Q. A relative in Australia was told to take krill oil capsules, which are advertised as better for heart health than fish oil. What’s your opinion?

A. Krill oil is extracted from the bodies of Antarctic krill — tiny shrimp-like shellfish — and can be taken in capsules. Like fatty fish and fish oil supplements, krill oil capsules contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Consumption of these fatty acids (and alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is derived from plants and converted in the body to DHA and EPA) is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.

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Practical Pearls: Lowering Triglycerides with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

In general, a total daily dose of 1 gram of EPA and/or DHA can be expected to result in a 5 to 10 percent lowering of TG.2 Several manufacturers market OTC fish oil supplements of varying quality, so clinicians should encourage patients to use United States Pharmacopeia (USP) verified formulations that assure purity and potency. In the past, the most commonly marketed dose of OTC fish oil contained only 300 mg of combined DHA plus EPA per capsule,9 thus requiring in excess of nine capsules a day to achieve clinically meaningful results. Fortunately, highly concentrated “double- or triple- strength” formulations are now widely available, generally contain 684–900 mg of combined DHA plus EPA per capsule, and sell in the range of $10 to $15 per bottle. (Table 1) It may be helpful to initiate therapy at two capsules daily and titrate to effect as tolerated. For patients who have difficulty swallowing large capsules, highly concentrated liquid formulations are available, albeit at an increased cost.

The 2013 American College of Cardiology/ American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) guideline on the treatment of blood cholesterol recommends that clinicians evaluate patients for gastrointestinal disturbances when EPA and/or DHA are used for the management of severe hypertriglyceridemia.3 Eructation, with a fishy aftertaste, and dyspepsia are common side effects reported by patients taking fish oil supplements. Fishy aftertaste may be minimized by storing capsules in the freezer or using enteric- coated formulations10 to help prevent capsule dissolution in the esophagus and stomach, thereby minimizing belches. Of note, the manufacturers of prescription formulations recommend storage at room temperature.6,7 Other strategies to help improve tolerability include taking fish oil prior to meals or at bedtime or using flavored formulations.

Patients may inquire about krill oil because of the reported lack of fishy aftertaste, smaller capsule size and potential for lower pill burden since krill oil may have better bioavailability than fish oil.11

Unfortunately, few studies have compared krill oil to fish oil for TG lowering. A single study compared varying doses (1–3 gm/d) of a specific krill oil formulation (unspecified amount of DHA/EPA) to standard fish oil (900 mg/d of DHA/EPA). A significant reduction in TG (~28 percent) was reported with 2–3 gm/d of krill oil as compared to a non-significant 3.2 percent reduction with fish oil.12 Alternatively, Ulven et al. reported comparable TG lowering between krill oil (543 mg/d DHA/ EPA) and fish oil (864 mg/d DHA/EPA).13 More studies are needed to determine how krill oil compares to fish oil, especially when administered in equipotent doses.

Shellfish allergies do not preclude the use of fish oil, although safety in this patient population has not been established.

Our experience has been that such patients tend to be hesitant out of fear of experiencing allergic reactions. One option clinicians have is to consider n-3 FA products derived from algae sources. Disadvantages are that these products are not as readily available and tend to be costly. Krill oil should be avoided in those with shellfish allergies, because it contains a shellfish allergen.14

The collective clinical experience of our practice has been that omega-3 fish oil is a cost-effective means by which to treat elevated triglycerides. Educating patients on how to read product labels, focusing on the amount of EPA and/or DHA content per capsule rather than the amount of fish oil concentrate, helps to ensure that adequate doses of omega-3 fatty acids are employed. Adherence to therapy should be assessed at each lipid panel review and verification of appropriate dose/formulation should be documented whenever feasible.

Disclosure statement: There are no disclosures to report.

References are listed on page 34 of the PDF.

Krill Oil

Generic Name: omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
Brand Names: Mercola Krill Oil, Schiff MegaRed Omega-3 Krill Oil, Neptune Krill Oil, Red Whale Krill Oil

What is Krill Oil?

Krill (Euphausia superba) is a small crustacean with an appearance similar to shrimp. They are found in the colder waters of the ocean. Krill primarily serve as a food source for other animals in the ocean, for example – whales, seals, penguins, squid and fish.

Krill is found in the oceans off of Antarctica, Canada, and Japan. Harvesting of krill is controversial. There is concern that commercial harvesting of Krill for use in Krill Oil supplements could threaten the species that consume it for food, including whales. All krill oil sold in nutritional supplements is harvested out of the open ocean, upsetting the natural balance of food supplies for larger marine animals.

Commercial uses of Krill include salmon aquaculture farming, harvesting for use in Krill Oil capsules, as food for home aquariums, and as a human food source. Krill, known as Okiami has been harvested by the Japanese as a human food source since the 19th century, and is also consumed in South Korea and Taiwan. Krill has a pink or red appearance due to the plankton that they consume as a food source in the ocean.1

What is in Krill Oil?

Krill contains an oil that is similar to the oils found in fish oils, the omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are recommended for use in lowering triglyceride levels. Krill Oil use as a supplement to lower blood lipids is increasing in popularity.1

Krill Oil contains:

  • The omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic). Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are also found in oils from certain types of fish, vegetables, and other plant sources.

Unlike fish oil, the omega-3 fatty acids in Krill oil are absorbed and carried to the body’s cells in phospholipid form. Omega-3 fatty acids, in combination with diet and exercise, work by lowering the body’s production of “bad”, low density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides, and may raise high density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can lead to coronary artery disease, heart disease, and stroke.

Supportive, but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Krill Oil also contains:

  • Phospholipid-derived fatty acids (PLFA), which may result in better absorption, and marine lethicin2
  • A carotenoid antioxidant called astaxanthin. Antioxidants inhibit oxidation and may neutralize the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances in body tissues that may lead to disease.

Krill Oil has also been used to treat high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), although high quality studies with adequately sized populations validating these uses are lacking. Patients should speak with their physician prior to using Krill Oil for any condition.

Warnings issued by the FDA note that certain fish (marlin, tuna, swordfish) may contain toxins such as methylmercury, leading some consumers to be wary of eating fish to obtain omega-3 fatty acids. Manufacturers of Krill Oil suggest it may be safer due to lower levels of contaminants such as mercury. The FDA has issued recommendations that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and young children avoid eating more than 6 ounces of fish per week. However, Krill may also contain methylmercury and other pollutants from sea water, although they are lower on the food chain and may contain lower values of such pollutants. One study noted that Krill harvested from Antarctica contains high levels of organic pesticides.3

Manufacturers of Krill Oil claim one of the advantages of Krill Oil over Fish Oil is that it does not lead to the fishy aftertaste, reflux or belching of fish flavors, a common side effect with fish oil supplements. However, Krill Oil may still lead to these side effects in some patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not specifically made recommendations on Krill Oil safety or effectiveness. Krill Oil is considered a dietary supplement and does not require a prescription.1,4,5,6,7,8

Krill Oil may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information

Take Krill Oil exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take it in larger amounts or for longer than recommended.

Krill Oil should not be used in patients with a fish or shrimp allergy, or probably any other type of seafood. Tests for susceptibility to allergic reactions to Krill Oil have not been completed.

People with coagulopathy or taking anticoagulants or other medications should notify their physician prior to taking dietary supplements.

Stop taking Krill Oil at least two weeks prior to any scheduled surgery or procedure.

Swallow the Krill Oil capsule whole. Do not puncture or open the capsule.

Marine Oils, such as Krill Oil, is only part of a complete program of treatment that also includes diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.1

There may be other drugs that can interact with Krill Oil. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Stop using Krill Oil and get emergency medical help if you think you have used too much medicine, or if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Less serious side effects are more likely, and you may have none at all. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or is especially bothersome.

Before Taking Krill Oil

Do not use Marine Oils like Krill Oil if you are allergic to fish, shrimp or any other type of seafood. Be sure to check the label on the Krill Oil package to look for other active or inactive ingredients that may cause an allergy. If you are not sure, ask your pharmacist.
Ask a doctor or pharmacist about using this medicine if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • A pancreas disorder
  • Blood clotting disorder or risk of stroke
  • Upcoming surgery or procedure that might increase your risk for bleeding
  • Underactive thyroid
  • If you drink more than two alcoholic beverages per day

It is not known whether Krill Oil will harm an unborn baby, although certain prescription omega-3 fatty acids (Lovaza) have a Pregnancy Rating C. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using Krill Oil. It is not known whether omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids pass into breast milk or if this could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Krill Oil without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old.1
See also: Fish Oil and Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings (in more detail)

How should I take Krill Oil?

Use Krill Oil exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Swallow the Krill Oil capsule whole. Do not puncture or open the capsule. Krill Oils may work best if taken with with food, although

Marine Oils like Krill Oil are only part of a complete program of treatment that also includes diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.

Store Krill Oil at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not freeze.

What Happens if I Miss a Dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What Happens if I Overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What Should I Avoid While Taking Krill Oil?

Avoid eating foods that are high in fat or cholesterol. Krill Oil will not be as effective in lowering your triglycerides if you do not follow the diet plan recommended by your doctor.
Avoid drinking alcohol. It can increase triglycerides and may make your condition worse.

Krill Oil Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Krill Oil: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using Fish Oil and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • Fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms
  • Chest pain
  • Uneven heartbeats

Less serious Krill Oil side effects may include:

  • Back pain
  • Mild skin rash
  • Fishy aftertaste or belching in some patients

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.1

What Other Drugs Will Affect Fish Oil?

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Fish Oil. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.1

Further information

Your pharmacist or physician can provide more information about Krill Oil.

  1. Drugs.com. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. Accessed Jan. 21, 2013. https://www.drugs.com/mtm/omega-3-polyunsaturated-fatty-acids.html
  2. Schuchardt JP, Schneider I, Meyer H, et al. Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations, a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs. krill oil. Lipids Health Dis. 2011; 10:145. Accessed Jan. 21, 2013 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854650
  3. Corsolini S, Covaci A, Ademollo N, et al. Occurrence of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and their enantiomeric signatures, and concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Adélie penguin food web, Antarctica. Environmental Pollution 2006; 140:371-82.
  4. Caring for Cancer. Krill Oil. Alternative Medicine. Accessed Jan. 21, 2013. Last updated Feb. 2011. https://www.caring4cancer.com/myhealthcenter/tools/knowledgebase/Article.aspx?Hwid=hn-10002454
  5. Ulven SM, Kirkhus B, Lamglait A, et al. Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers. Lipids. 2011;46:37-46. Accessed Jan. 21, 2013 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21042875
  6. Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26:39-48
  7. 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;9:420-8
  8. Sampalis F, Bunea R, Pelland MF, et al. Evaluation of the effects of neptune krill oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea. Altern. Med. Rev. 2003;8:171-9.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Benefits Of Krill Oil For Reducing Cholesterol

One of the most popular health supplements around are Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. There is heaps of research and literature that show the incredible benefits that Omega-3s can have on the human body. Lower LDL cholesterol, reduced heart disease risk and healthier joints are just a few of the many possible benefits that you can enjoy as a result of getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, the human body is incapable of producing Omega-3 by itself. The fatty acids need to be ingested through your diet or with supplements. The most common way of increasing Omega-3 intake is through fish oil supplementation. Just a few capsules each day can boost your Omega-3 levels enough to reap the many benefits it has. However, fish oil is not the most efficient way to supplement with Omega-3. It has been shown that using krill oil is a more efficient and effective method of Omega-3 supplementation, due to its superior rate of absorbtion . If you are looking to up your Omega-3 intake, krill oil is the way to go.

What Is Krill Oil?

Krill oil is sourced from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that swim in the Southern Ocean. The Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean are extremely remote and isolated, making it free of many environmental contaminants. Hence, making krill oil very pure. The purity of krill oil is further enhanced by the krill’s position on the natural food chain. Krill feed on plankton, which is extremely low on the food chain. What this means is that the krill do not accumulate the heavy metals, like mercury, which is common in the larger fish that are higher up on the ocean’s food chain.

Health Benefits Of Krill Oil

Apart from krill oil being an extremely pure and sustainable source of Omega-3 fatty acids, it also has numerous amazing health benefits. Below, are the top three health benefits of supplementing with krill oil.

1) Improved Cardiovascular Health

Triglycerides are a type of fat that is present in your blood. High levels of triglycerides in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease. Supplementing with krill oil has been shown to reduce the level of triglycerides in adults that already had high levels present in their blood. Another study has also shown the cardio health benefits of krill oil by examining the level of C-reactive protein in the blood. C-reactive protein levels are used as a way to determine heart health; the lower your C-reactive protein levels, the healthier your heart. The study measured the levels of C-reactive protein after 7 and 14 days in a group of krill oil supplements users, taking 300mg daily vs a group using a placebo. After 7 days, the krill oil user’s C-reactive protein levels were reduced by 19.3%. After 14 days, they had dropped by almost 30%.

2) Healthier Cholesterol Levels

High levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and low levels of HDL, which is the good kind, are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and diseases. Krill oil has been found to not only decrease levels of LDL but to increase HDL levels as well. A double-whammy for improving overall cholesterol levels. The study didn’t just compare the effects of taking krill oil versus taking nothing at all, it actually compared krill oil against regular fish oils as well. The findings of the study showed that taking krill oil was effective for reducing total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and increasing HDL levels. The amazing thing about this study is that these results were achieved by using krill oil levels that were lower than the levels of fish oil being taken. This can probably be attributed to the higher absorption rates and bioavailability of the krill oil supplements.

3) Better Joint Function

It has been shown that krill oil can have lubricating and anti-inflammatory effects on your joints. Best of all, the benefits can be had very quickly. In a study by the American College of Nutrition, krill oils were found to reduce joint pain, stiffness and functional impairment after just 7 days. After 14 days, the effects of supplementing with 300mg of the oil each day were even greater. Clearly, the joint-sparing effects of daily krill oil supplementation are well worth taking note of. Just 300mg of krill oil each day to get these benefits plus the many others that come with should make krill oil an obvious addition to your health supplement stack.

Other Benefits

The benefits listed above are not the only ones that have been discovered for krill oil supplements. In fact, there is a whole host more. For instance, krill oil can have anti-aging benefits as a result of the high levels of astaxanthin, which is a super powerful antioxidant. Astaxanthin will not be found in any fish oil supplement and can also promote healthy, more radiant-looking skin. On another note, Omega-3 fatty acids are backed by many studies to provide mental health benefits. Mental concentration, focus and better memory have all been associated with Omega-3 ingestion. Daily krill oil supplementation will supply all of these benefits.

The Best Type Of Krill Oil

As with any type of supplement, all krill oil is not created equally. You can find a range of low-quality and high-quality krill oil supplements on the market. If you’re going to be putting something into your body, you need to make sure that only the very highest quality is being used. Look out for K.Real® oil when you are purchasing krill oil supplements. It is by far the highest quality krill oil available. K.Real® oil goes through extra extraction processes that make it far purer than fish oil and purer than other the krill oils that are available. As an added bonus of this level of purification, K.Real® oil doesn’t leave you with the fishy-smelling burps that are common place with fish oil supplements. K.Real® is also the only krill oil supplement that meets the European health authority’s definition of low sodium. Therefore, on top of the heart health benefits of krill oil itself, you get the added benefits of reduced sodium from choosing K.Real® over the lesser-quality krill oil supplements. If you are looking to harness the power of krill oil for yourself, buying K.Real® oil is a no-brainer. You can buy K.Real® krill oil capsules that supply the recommended daily dose of 500mg at very affordable prices here: http://www.hellenia.co.uk/products/krill-oil-capsules.html All products from Hellenia are made in the UK, eco-friendly and sustainable. So, you can rest assured that you are getting the very highest quality krill oil each time. Sources: https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/eicosapentaenoic-acid-epa https://examine.com/supplements/krill-oil/ Krill oil supplementation lowers serum triglycerides without increasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults with borderline high or high triglyceride levels. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24461313 Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17353582 Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15656713 Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?orig_db=PubMed&cmd=Search&TransSchema=title&term=Deutsch%5Bauthor%5D+AND+Evaluation+of+the+effect+of+Neptune+

Chen, Y. C., Tou, J. C., and Jaczynski, J. Amino acid and mineral composition of protein and other components and their recovery yields from whole Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) using isoelectric solubilization/precipitation. J Food Sci 2009;74(2):H31-H39. View abstract.

Cipro, C. V., Taniguchi, S., and Montone, R. C. Occurrence of organochlorine compounds in Euphausia superba and unhatched eggs of Pygoscelis genus penguins from Admiralty Bay (King George Island, Antarctica) and estimation of biomagnification factors. Chemosphere 2010;78(6):767-771. View abstract.

Hellgren, K. Assessment of Krillase chewing gum for the reduction of gingivitis and dental plaque. J Clin Dent 2009;20(3):99-102. View abstract.

Kidd, P. M. Krill oil complex: potent nutraceutical synergy. Total Health 2003;25(4):15.

Kidd, P. M. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Altern Med Rev 2007;12(3):207-227. View abstract.

Mori, T. A. Omega-3 fatty acids and hypertension in humans. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2006;33(9):842-846. View abstract.

Bottino NR. Lipid composition of two species of Antarctic krill: Euphausia superba and E. crystallorophias. Comp Biochem Physiol B 1975;50:479-84. View abstract.

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;9:420-8. View abstract.

Calder PC. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity: pouring oil on troubled waters or another fishy tale? Nutr Res 2001;21:309-41.

Connor WE. n-3 Fatty acids from fish and fish oil: panacea or nostrum? Am J Clin Nutr 2001;74;415-6. View abstract.

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

Dunlap WC, Fujisawa A, Yamamoto Y, et al. Notothenioid fish, krill and phytoplankton from Antarctica contain a vitamin E constituent (alpha-tocomonoenol) functionally associated with cold-water adaptation. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol 2002;133:299-305. View abstract.

Foran SE, Flood JG, Lewandrowski KB. Measurement of mercury levels in concentrated over-the-counter fish oil preparations: is fish oil healthier than fish? Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1603-5. View abstract.

Harris WS, Miller M, Tighe AP, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids and coronary heart disease risk: clinical and mechanistic perspectives. Atherosclerosis 2008;197:12-24. View abstract.

Leaf A. On the reanalysis of the GISSI-Prevenzione. Circulation 2002;105:1874-5. View abstract.

Melanson SF, Lewandrowski EL, Flood JG, Lewandrowski KB. Measurement of organochlorines in commercial over-the-counter fish oil preparations: implications for dietary and therapeutic recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids and a review of the literature. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2005;129:74-7. View abstract.

Sampalis F, Bunea R, Pelland MF, et al. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea. Altern Med Rev 2003;8:171-9. View abstract.

Tandy S, Chung RW, Wat E, et al. Dietary krill oil supplementation reduces hepatic steatosis, glycemia, and hypercholesterolemia in high-fat-fed mice. J Agric Food Chem 10-14-2009;57:9339-45. View abstract.

Ulven SM, Kirkhus B, Lamglait A, et al. Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers. Lipids 2011;46:37-46. View abstract.

Venkatraman JT, Chandrasekar B, Kim JD, Fernandes G. Effects of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on the activities and expression of hepatic antioxidant enzymes in autoimmune-prone NZBxNZW F1 mice. Lipids 1994;29:561-8. View abstract.

Krill oil is a substitute for fish oil that has been shown to reduce stress, lower cholesterol and improve depression. Krill are small crustaceans that you will find in the waters around the antarctic. They feed on phytoplankton and swim in large schools of 30,000 (1).

Krill oil is specifically extracted from a species of antarctic krill called euphausia superba. Krill oil is very similar to fish oil in that it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The main difference between the two is that krill oil contains high levels of choline while regular fish oil does not (2).

Krill oil is also better at being absorbed by the body (has higher bioavailability) which means that you can use a lower dose compared to fish oil while getting the same results. But other than that, a lot of the benefits of krill oil are going to be identical to those of omega-3 fish oil, so we will use the two interchangeably throughout this article.

One of the biggest factors in the effectiveness of krill oil is your current diet. A healthy diet requires a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. You can find omega-6 in meat, dairy, nuts, cereals, and many vegetable oils, because of this omega-6 is often high in most diets (even relatively poor diets). Omega-3 on the other hand is only available in fish, flax seeds, hemp, and in red meat (but it is negligible).

Because of this most people tend to have a lot of omega-6 fatty acids in their diet, while having relatively low omega-3 fatty acids. This can be addressed by adding more omega-3 rich foods.

If you are in a country with a high fish diet (Japan, Italy, Sweden are all examples) then you are probably getting enough already, but in other countries it can be quite expensive to purchase the right type of fish. Also, you’d have to drastically alter your diet to accommodate the huge increase in oily fish.

Because of this omega-3 supplements are very popular, cod liver oil has been around for decades, and fish oil is also common (in fact, a lot of the time fish oil and cod liver oil are the same product just with different names). Krill oil is not nearly as common, but this has changed in recent years.

Best Krill Oil

11MD Antarctic KrillMD

KrillMD features pure, sustainable Antarctic krill oil with the highly potent omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA as well as the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin and krill phospholipids to maximize efficient and effective absorption by the body.

Clinically-proven K·REAL krill oil is derived from Antarctic krill, using a Multi-Stage Oil (MSO) extraction technology that boosts bio-availability & absorption. KrillMD contains 1600 mg of pure krill oil per serving.

By working to reduce oxidative damage in the body, KrillMD is an important part of long-term Heart, Joint and Brain health

2Transparent Labs CoreSeries Krill Oil

CoreSeries krill oil is an elite health supplement extracted exclusively from an Antarctic krill species (Euphausia Superba) rich in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Krill oil is attached to phospholipids, instead of triglycerides (like in fish oil), permitting them to be better recognized by the body and gentler on the stomach, allowing for better assimilation into the cells.

When compared to fish oil, krill oil research has been found to: enhance glucose metabolism in your liver, promote lipid metabolism, help to regulate the mitochondrial respiratory chain, and decrease cholesterol synthesis, whereas fish oil does not.

CoreSeries krill oil is perfect for anyone looking for a truly superior source of nutrition that is naturally low in accumulated contaminants.

3Krill Oil Superba Boost

Superba Krill oil contains phospholipid omega-3s and astaxanthin, and is naturally pure. Superba krill omega-3s are bound to phospholipids, which are better recognized utilizedby the body.

As a result, the key fatty acids in Superba are more concentrated. The first and most noticeable benefit is smaller pills. The second benefit is the absence of reflux because krill omega-3s actually mix with the contents in the stomach, avoiding burp-back and other unpleasant digestive issues.

With no nasty aftertaste, this sustainably sourced 590mg krill oil formula is simply one of the best on the market.

4SR Antarctic Krill Oil

Sports Research is made with Superba2 Krill Oil, a new advance formula clinically proven to increase omega-3 fatty acid levels in the body. Itontains 1000 mg of Krill oil per soft gel with more naturally occurring EPA, DHA, Phospholipids and Astaxanthin.

The new Superba2 formula has substantially reduced the Krill smell. The phospholipid-bound omega-3 fatty acids are water dispersible, making them easier to digest than fish oil.

5Mega Red Krill Oil

Mega red superior krill oil is one of the most popular brands on amazon. It provides a once daily softgel with 350 milligrams of 100 Percent Antarctic krill oil. Unlike fish oil, MegaRed Krill Oil has no fishy odor or aftertaste.

They’ve also included Astaxanthin which provides carotenoid and antioxidant benefits.

6Viva Naturals Krill Oil

In just two easy-to-swallow capsules, Viva Naturals Krill Oil delivers 1,250 mg of krill oil, providing 165 mg of EPA and 90 mg of DHA. With its high concentration of omega-3’s, including 90 mg of DHA, Viva Naturals Krill Oil can help you maintain a healthy brain, including much-needed support for your working memory.

Viva Naturals Krill Oil is encapsulated in innovative Caplique capsules, limiting the fishy burps and aftertaste often experienced with lower-quality fish oil supplements.

7Bronson Antarctic Krill Oil

Bronson only uses the best krill harvested in the waters of Antarctica to promote healthy cholesterol levels, helps to reduce blood pressure. Bronson uses best ingredients available. Bronson krill oil is heavy metal tested, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free and is laboratory tested at a New York FDA cGMP registered facility.

Their products have been consistently recommended by the foremost nutritional scientists like Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling.

8Bulletproof Krill Oil Complex

Bulletproof omega krill complex is a triple strength blend of omega-3s made with fish roe and krill sourced from certified ocean-friendly fisheries. It is also enhanced with GLA plus extra antioxidants from astaxanthin and olive fruit for clinically backed brain, heart and joint support.

Gamma-linolenic acid is hard to come by in the traditional diet and has been used due to its powerful ability to support healthy skin. The GLA in Omega Krill Complex comes from borage seed (Borago officinalis), the highest-potency natural source of GLA available.

9Natrogix Krill Oil

Natrogix’s Krill Oil delivers 1500mg serving; each serving is tested including 123.5mg phospholipid omega-3’s, 420mcg astaxanthin.

Beyond this, it doesn’t have anything special to distinguish itself among it’s competitor’s.

10Dr. Mercola Krill Oil

Dr. Mercola’s krill oil is a premium omega-3 supplement that supports a healthy heart, overall joint comfort and immune function. There MSC certification and auditing ensures harvesting to manufacturing adheres to MSC’s chain of custody standard. Krill are harvested in a sustainable way that also ensures no non krill species is captured.

All Dr. Mercola products are backed by a full 90-day money back guarantee.

How We Rank

The first we looked at for ranking the best krill oil supplements was the DHA and EPA content (also known as the omega-3 essential fatty acids). They’re known as essential fats because our bodies can’t produce EPA and DHA and if we were to remove them from our diets completely, we’d eventually die.

A combined intake of 500 milligrams to 1.8 grams of EPA and DHA per day is sufficient, and additional health benefits can be seen up to a combined intake of 6 grams per day. This is why popular companies like Bulk Supplements did not make the cut, because they contained just 200mg of EPA and DHA per serving.

Next, we looked it astaxanthin content in the krill oil supplement. Astaxanthin is what gives krill oil its distinctive deep red color and it a powerhouse antioxidant. It’s one of the main advantages of choosing a krill oil supplement over a fish oil one. We preferred those with high astaxanthin content like out top pick 1MD Krill Oil.

Lastly, we looked at purity and additives. Did the fish oil contain beneficial ingredients to supercharge their product and make sure they were using FDA standards and sustainable fishing methods? Products like Krill Oil Superba, which made our top 3, uses only sustainable fishing methods, protecting the environment while still providing a quality product.

After all that, we got to our top 10 best krill oil supplements on the market.

Benefits

1Krill oil may help control and lower inflammation by reducing C-reactive protein levels. A 2007 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that taking krill oil for 30 days led to a slight reduction in c-reactive protein levels in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (3).

C-reactive protein is a plasma protein that is produced in the liver (4).

It rises in response to inflammation, and often it is seen as a marker for inflammation-related conditions such as cancer or cardiovascular disease (5).

It’s not just krill oil that appears to have an effect on c-reactive protein levels though, fish oil may also have an effect, though there are more studies that didn’t find a link then there are ones that did (6, 7, 8, 9).

Even krill oil has had mixed results, so far the study we mentioned above is the only one that saw a difference (though the difference was significant) and that was only in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Another study, this time on 115 healthy volunteers, failed to find any significant difference in c-reactive protein levels after 1-6 months (10).

It might just be the case that krill oil reduces inflammation in people with arthritis and similar joint issues, which in turn reduces c-reactive protein levels.

2Krill oil can help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Cholesterol can be split up into two types; high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol”, combined together they make your total cholesterol levels. Increasing your HDL levels can help to lower your LDL cholesterols, because one of the main functions of HDL cholesterol is to clear LDL from your artery walls.

Therefore increasing HDL will help to lower LDL levels. This may reduce total cholesterol levels, but provided you are increasing good cholesterol and lowering bad cholesterol it doesn’t matter so much if your total cholesterol levels change.

A 2004 study found that 1-3g of krill oil per day for a period of 1-6 months led to significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. HDL cholesterol was also increased (11).

The study also claimed that krill oil was much more effective than regular fish oil. Which has also been found to increase HDL cholesterol reduce LDL cholesterol, and also reduce total cholesterol (12, 13, 14).

The fact that krill oil is more effective than fish oil is probably just down to it having a higher bioavailability.

3Krill oil can help to reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension is a serious medical condition which can lead to heart disease, strokes, and heart failure (to name a few).

The evidence of fish oil reducing high blood pressure is mixed. We’ve already looked at the effect of krill oil on total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Reducing cholesterol is one way of reducing hypertension, so there is definitely a connection.

One study found that 2.5g of fish oil per day for six weeks led to a reduction in triglycerides and in blood pressure (15).

A meta-analysis in 2013 found that there was a significant reduction in blood pressure seen in people who were hypertensive (16).

The study also found that there was a small (non-significant) reduction in blood pressure in regular healthy people.

A 2012 study gave either fish oil or a soya product to women with metabolic syndrome over a 90-day period. The study found that there was a statistically significant drop in diastolic blood pressure (17).

4Krill oil can help reduce the symptoms of depression. Depression has been linked with inflammation and increases in c-reactive protein in some studies (18).

So it is perhaps no surprise that fish oils have been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression. Krill oil hasn’t specifically been linked, but that is most likely down to a lack of studies. But there are many studies that link fish oil, so it is fair to assume that krill oil will produce the exact same results.

A 2011 study found that omega-3 fatty acids were an effective treatment for depression (19).

Another study in 2002 noticed a significant effect of omega-3 fatty acids on recurrent unipolar depressive disorder (20).

Of course depression has been linked with high cortisol levels due to stress (21).

As we have already discussed, fish oil and krill oil have been linked with reduced stress, and there are many studies linking fish oil to reduced cortisol (22).

5Krill oil may help reduce joint pain. We’ve already covered this somewhat by talking about the effect that krill oil has on inflammation and c-reactive protein. But it is important to distinguish this as omega-3 supplements are often taken for joint health.

A meta analysis on omega-3 supplements and the effect they have on inflammatory joint pain was completed in 2007 (23). It found that omega-3 supplements “are an attractive adjunctive treatment for joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis”.

6Krill oil may help improve birth weight and reduce preterm birth incidence. Taking fish oil while pregnant seems to have a few benefits, though more evidence is definitely needed before we can say for certain.

An article in 2011 stated that omega-3 fatty acids can “increase gestation length and improve infant cognitive and visual performance” (24).

He went on to state that “adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce the incidence of preterm birth in some populations”.

7Krill oil may reduce inattention and hyperactivity in children with ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be improved by omega-3 fatty acids. A 2003 study found that 4 months of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation led to a reduction in hyperactivity and disruptive behaviorr in children with hyperactivity disorder (25).

Another study published found that dietary omega-3 supplementation (using margarine with added omega-3) in boys with ADHD and boys without ADHD led to an improved score in the child behavior checklist (CBCL) (26).

The study also found that boys with ADHD had slightly improved attention.

This study has some funding issues, however. It was bankrolled by Unilever, a well known consumer goods company that happens to sell margarine as one of its products. That does not mean that the results are worthless though, particularly when you consider that other studies like the one we mentioned earlier found similar results. But it should definitely be mentioned.

8Krill oil can help to reduce stress and ease premenstrual syndrome. A 2003 study looked at the effect of krill oil on premenstrual syndrome management (27).

The study had 70 volunteers, split into two groups. One group took 2g of krill oil daily (in two 1g doses) eight days before their menstrual cycle, the other group did the exact same thing but using fish oil. The study found a significant between group difference, with krill oil being more effective at reducing stress.

Interestingly enough, a different study that just looked at fish oil, found that it was able to reduce stress in overweight women who were 30-44 years old (28).

This demonstrates that while krill oil is more effective than fish oil (according to the 2003 study), both are capable of reducing stress.

The 2003 study was primarily based on premenstrual syndrome, and it seems to indicate that krill oil may be useful as a way to reduce the symptoms. Breast tenderness was reduced, stress (as mentioned) and irritability were also lowered.

9Omega 3 fatty acids found in krill oil improve focus and attention in children. Researchers hypothesized that since omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health, that giving them to children can prevent behavioral disorders early in life (29).

In turn, when children supplement with fish oil the results show lower levels of hyperactivity, inattention, impulsiveness, and aggression (30).

10Omega 3 fatty acids found in krill oil can support overall eye health. Your eyes use omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, as important structural components. In fact, when subjects do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids research shows these individuals have an increased risk of various eye diseases (31).

Even more important, as you age the health of your eyes is seen to gradually decline, leading to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). By consuming fish oil, you’re able to prevent this from occurring (32).

Two studies, done on a larger scale, looked at fish oil supplementation paired with other nutrients on AMD. The results were positive in one yet not conclusive in the other (33, 34).

11Krill oil may help decrease mood disorders such as anxiety or depression. Studies show that supplementing with fish oil, to increase low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (a proven factor of depression), can reduce the symptoms of depression (35, 36).

It seems that EPA, a specific fatty acid in fish oil, is more effective than another long-form omega-3 fatty acid, known as DHA, in reducing the symptoms of depression.

12Krill oil omega 3 fatty acids can improve attention in children. Researchers hypothesized that since omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health, that giving them to children can prevent behavioral disorders early in life (37).

Side Effects

1Krill oil has a tiny risk of mercury being present. A lot of fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids are also high in mercury (38).

Which sounds scary until you realize that this correlation is mostly noticeable in shark and whale, not in krill (39).

Also, many of the dangers of high levels of mercury are protected against by omega-3’s such as heart disease.

2Krill oil should be avoided if you have a seafood allergy. Something that you should consider is whether you have a seafood allergy or not, because this is something that people forget about when it comes to krill oil. It’s not a definite that if you have a seafood allergy you will have an allergic reaction to krill oil, but it is a possibility. This is also something to consider if you avoid seafood for moral or religious reasons.

3Krill oil can slow blood clotting. It should be avoided for two weeks after surgery (40).

The likelihood of you having any issues with 2g of krill oil a day is probably microscopic, but perhaps not worth the risk.

4Krill oil supplements may affect blood sugar. Omega 3’s, found in krill or fish oil, can stimulate the production of glucose. This can lead to high levels of blood glucose. A 1989 study involving diabetics showed a 22% increase in blood glucose with individuals taking 8 grams of omega 3 fatty acids per day (41).

5Krill oil can lower blood pressure. An analysis of 31 studies concluded that omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure, which is beneficial for those with high blood pressure but may interfere with certain medications and cause problems for those on the opposite end of the spectrum (42).

A separate 2015 study of 90 people on dialysis found that taking 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day significantly decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to a placebo (70).

6Krill oil supplements can be linked to prostate cancer in men. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study relating high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids to the incidence of prostate cancer.

834 men diagnosed with prostate cancer were studied and found that those with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids saw a 43% increased risk of developing cancer when compared to the men with the lowest omega-3 fatty acid concentration (43).

Recommended Dosage

According to examine.com the correct dosage for krill oil is around 1-3g per day (44).

As we have seen in the studies we have looked at in this article, most use around 2g per day taken in two doses of 1g. Remember that krill oil has a higher absorption rate than fish oil, so you need less of it to see results.

Other studies show that a combined intake of 500 milligrams to 1.8 grams of EPA and DHA per day is sufficient, and additional health benefits can be seen up to a combined intake of 6 grams per day (45).

FAQ

Are Krill oil and fish the same thing? Krill oil comes from small crustaceans, not fatty fish, and typically contains more EPA. And unlike conventional fish-oil pills, krill oil’s omega-3s are linked to an antioxidant and other potentially beneficial substances called phospholipids, which makes it just a little bit better.

Is Krill Oil good for your joints? Yes, just 300 mg a day of krill oil has been shown to relieve joint pain.

Does Krill oil have any side effects? At high dosages, krill oil can cause some side effects similar to fish oil such as bad breath, heartburn, fishy taste, upset stomach, nausea, and loose stools.

Can Krill oil cause weight loss? Yes, krill oil has been shown to help support weight loss in combination with a proper exercise and diet regimen.

Can I take Krill oil if I’m allergic to shellfish? Krill oil does not contain the proteins from the flesh of the shellfish, but can have traces of tiny molecules of the proteins. Because there is a chance of developing an allergic reaction, you should avoid the use of fish oil supplements.

Which is better krill or fish oil? Both fish-oil pills and krill-oil supplements supply the healthful omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. But there are differences. Krill oil comes from small crustaceans, not fatty fish, and typically contains more EPA.

Is Krill oil safe for pregnancy? Because some 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 children. Experts do not recommend this, however, since safety or efficacy of krill oil in pregnant women and children has not been proven.

Is krill oil a blood thinner? Krill Oil, and other omega-3 supplements, stop platelets from clumping together and will often cause thinning in the blood. If you duplicate the blood-thinning effect by taking blood-thinners with Krill Oil, it could lead to negative reactions if not monitored properly.

What’s the difference between fish oil and krill oil and which is better? Krill oil is obtained from krill, which are small crustaceans similar to shrimp. Fish oil is obtained from fish. Studies have shown that the body may absorb krill oil slightly better than fish oil.

Is krill oil really good for you? Krill oil contains fatty acids similar to fish oil. These fats are thought to be beneficial fats that decrease swelling, lower cholesterol, and make blood platelets less sticky. When blood platelets are less sticky they are less likely to form clots.

How much krill oil should I take daily? Some health organizations recommend an intake of 250–500 mg per day of DHA and EPA combined. Other will say you can take upwards of 6000mg. day combined. A minimum 0f 400 is recommended.

Can I take krill oil on an empty stomach? You can take it on an empty stomach or with food, however most people prefer it with food.

Who shouldn’t take krill oil? Krill oil can slow blood clotting, and shouldn’t be taken for two weeks before surgery. If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your health care provider before taking krill oil. Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using krill oil supplements.

Is krill oil bad for your liver? No, in fact it’s the opposite. Studies have reported that krill oil, an extract from a species of Antarctic krill (ashrimp-like zooplankton) that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, when consumed as adietary supplement can improve lipid and glucose metabolism, potentially having aprotective effect against hepatic steatosis.

Is krill oil better for cholesterol than fish oil? Research published in Pharmacy & Therapeutics found that a daily dose of 1 to 3 grams of krill oil lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides more effectively than the same dose of regular fish oil.

Does krill oil help sexually? Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, which can improve cardiovascular health and lower triglycerides as well as possibly increase dopamine production, which can help with your libido.

What does krill look like? With large black eyes, krill are mostly transparent, although their shells have a bright red tinge. Their digestive system is usually visible. Krill have a hard exoskeleton, many legs which they use to swim and eat, and a segmented body.

Does krill oil contain mercury? Biomagnification is a process where large, predatory fish contain much higher levels of contaminants (including mercury, POPs, and other chemicals) than small, non-predatory fish. Because krill are at the bottom end of the ocean’s food chain, they don’t have time to accumulate high levels of mercury or other contaminants. This is why the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommends we avoid fish like king mackerel, swordfish, and bigeye and ahi tuna, and limit our intake of fish like grouper, sea bass, and white tuna.

Is krill oil vegan? No, krill oil is not considered vegan.

Is krill oil better than omega3? They aren’t really comparable since they are essentially the same thing.

How much omega 3 is too much? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that omega-3 supplements are safe as long as doses don’t exceed 3,000 mg per day. On the other hand, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) notes that up to 5,000 mg per day from supplements is safe.

Recap

There seem to be many benefits to taking krill oil as a supplement, it appears to reduce inflammation and therefore has many health benefits related to that. For example a reduction in joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis, a reduction in blood pressure and total cholesterol in hypertensive patients. It can also lower c-reactive protein levels.

Krill oil may also help to reduce depressive symptoms, and help treat stress. The effect that it has on cortisol could help explain that. As a treatment for childhood attention hyperactivity disorder, krill oil may have some benefits. But it is too soon to say.

However experts claim that because omega-3 levels are often low in children taking fish oil or krill oil is a good idea anyway, the improved behaviour and attention would just be an added bonus.

As its fish based, a lot of people may be worried about levels of mercury, but this is pretty much a non story. Of greater concern should be whether krill oil can cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to shellfish.

The only real issue regarding krill oil is a moral one. Krill are not an endangered species, but they are a vital food source for many marine species such as whales, and their numbers are dropping due to global warming and fishing.

Many experts warn that over-fishing of krill could be causing damage to whales and other species that eat krill. This is not too relevant to their effectiveness as a supplement, but potential food for thought.

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