Looking to maintain healthy levels of Omega-3s in your body? Fish oil supplements have been the traditional way people consume Omega-3s, but krill oil complex is rapidly gaining in popularity as research shows its enhanced bioavailability and health benefits.
After years of dominating the Omega-3 supplement market, many people are wary to move on from fish oil—largely because they aren’t familiar with krill oil and its benefits. Is krill oil really better for you? And is it safe to supplement? Read on to learn more about this heart-healthy supplement and how it could play a significant role in your overall health.
What Is Krill Oil?
Krill oil is a heart healthy nutrient made from tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans called krill. Krill live in the ocean and are an abundant source of food for whales. In fact, krill means “whale food” in Norwegian! These tiny creatures play a major part in the food chain of our oceans’ ecosystem, but the Antarctic krill used in krill oil supplements are usually harvested from the waters near Antarctica.
While many people think of fish oil as healthier Omega-3 supplement, many studies show that krill oil is the better option. Since krill oil contains phospholipids, rather than the triglycerides found in fish oil, it’s better absorbed by the body. Between the two options, it’s simply the more effective choice.
The Health Benefits of Krill Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Krill oil is an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two types of Omega-3 fatty acids that are only found from marine sources. These acids promote critical functions throughout the body, providing several significant benefits for your overall health. Here are some of the science-backed benefits of krill oil:
- Heart healthy fats. Krill oil contains the heart healthy Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA. These two fatty acids may decrease the chance of developing an abnormal heart rhythm. Other benefits of maintaining adequate Omega-3 levels include increased compliance of arteries, decreased atherosclerosis and reduced inflammatory markers—all of which promote good heart health.
- Inflammation reduction. Chronic inflammation can lead to harmful effects throughout the body, contributing to problems as varied as poor skin health to the development of serious diseases. It’s believed that krill oil is easy for the body to use, making it more effective at fighting inflammation than other sources of Omega-3s. It also contains a pigment called astaxanthin that also fights inflammation and oxidation.
- Arthritis pain relief. While research is ongoing, krill oil’s inflammation-fighting properties provide several significant benefits, potentially improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and joint pain linked to inflammation. Many scientists believe that krill oil is an excellent supplemental treatment for people suffering from these painful conditions.
- Improve blood lipids. Triglycerides and other blood fats play a role in the development of heart disease, and krill oil has been shown to improve these blood lipid levels. Recent studies indicate that krill oil effectively lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, possibly increasing “good” HDL cholesterol in the process.
- Krill oil for PMS. In general, getting enough Omega-3s is shown to decrease pain and inflammation. Taking krill oil can be particularly helpful at reducing period pain and other symptoms of PMS, even helping some people decrease the use of pain medication to control their symptoms.
How long does it take for these benefits to kick in? They’re not immediate and depend entirely on regular long-term use. Most adults who take krill oil supplement for up to 3 months or more before appropriate levels of Omega-3s build up in their body. While it might seem like a long time to wait, the benefits are nevertheless worth it.
In short, krill oil offers several unique benefits for your overall health, and it’s much easier for the body to use than other marine forms of Omega-3s, including standard fish oil. It can also offer other significant benefits, like smaller dosage, antioxidants and fewer side effects. Just remember: good things come to those who wait for them.
Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil: What’s the Difference?
If you’re looking to increase your intake of Omega-3s, both krill oil and fish oil are an excellent choice. But how do you choose between the two? Both dietary supplements are rich in EPA and DHA, but krill oil is generally thought to be the more effective choice, mainly due to its heart-healthy properties and enhanced bioavailability.
Fish oil and krill oil contain very different fatty acids. Fish oil contains triglycerides, while krill oil contains phospholipids that are more readily absorbed by the body. Scientists believe that the increased potential for absorption makes krill oil the more efficient, effective choice when it comes to Omega-3 supplements.
One of the key differences between krill oil and fish oils is their overall effectiveness. While studies have shown time and again that fish oil provides significant heart health benefits, recent research proposes krill oil protects the heart to an even greater extent.
In a recent study, participants with high blood cholesterol took either a fish oil or krill oil supplement. While both groups showed a meaningful improvement in several heart disease risk factors, the patients who took krill oil experienced more benefits, including lower blood sugar, triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Fish oil and krill oil also differ in terms of price. A standard fish oil supplement is much cheaper than krill supplements on the market. In some cases, a krill supplement can cost 10 times more than generic fish oil, but keep in mind you’re paying for the enhanced benefits krill oil provides. You can also take a smaller dosage of krill oil to get the same number of fatty acids as you would in a traditional fish oil supplement.
Possible Interactions and Side Effects
While krill oil is generally safe and effective, there are some possible interactions and side effects to be aware of. In general, krill oil is well tolerated among the general public. Potential adverse effects are minimal and include gastrointestinal symptoms like flatulence, nausea and diarrhea.
Krill oil, and any product containing Omega-3 fatty acids, can cause an antiplatelet action. If you’re taking any anticoagulants like warfarin, or any antiplatelet agents like aspirin, clopidogrel or prasugrel, talk to your doctor before taking a krill oil supplement, as there can be potentially harmful interactions.
As stated above, krill oil may lower blood sugar levels. That means people with diabetes who take krill oil should monitor their blood sugar carefully, as it could drop too low. Care should be taken if you’re pregnant or are breastfeeding. While there’s no concrete information to support the belief that krill oil is unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, it’s better to stay on the safe side and avoid it. In addition, people with seafood allergies should not take krill oil. It also shouldn’t be taken either two weeks before or two weeks after surgery.
How Much Krill Oil Should You Take?
If your doctor has given you approval to take a krill oil supplement, the amount you’ll take is based on the amount of DHA and EPA found in the product. While some guidelines recommend a daily intake between 250 and 500 milligrams of these Omega-3 fatty acids, some people can benefit from larger doses of up to 4 grams. Always talk to your doctor before taking a higher-than-recommended dose of krill oil, or any supplement.
It’s best to take krill oil capsules along with a meal or snack that contains dietary fat. This increases the absorption of DHA and EPA, allowing your body to soak up all the benefits of the nutrient. Taking krill oil with a meal also decreases the risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
How to Choose Quality Krill Oil Supplements
Since krill oil has rapidly gained popularity in recent years, there’s no shortage of krill oil manufacturers and products on the market. As with all supplements, some are better than others. As you’re comparing supplements, there are some factors to look for that set the effective ones apart from the rest. They include:
- Omega-3 content: Look for an appropriate Omega-3 content that matches your doctor’s recommendations.
- Astaxanthin content: Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful ingredients in krill oil. It’s a pigment that fights inflammation and oxidation, so check the label to make sure the product you choose has appropriate levels of astaxanthin.
- Lab testing: All nutritional supplements should be thoroughly tested for quality. Make sure you choose a product that’s passed all relevant third-party lab tests.
- Krill source: Look for products made from sustainably-harvested krill. There’s also a belief that arctic krill are a better source of krill oil than krill harvested elsewhere, though there’s no concrete science behind it.
Another important factor to consider is how your krill oil supplement is produced. Products that feature Multi Stage Oil extraction (MSO) assures high-quality oil with superior properties than other commercially-available options on the market. If you want to provide your body with the most benefits at lower dose, choose a product made with MSO technology.
The Bottom Line on Dietary Krill Oil Supplementation
Krill oil is becoming a popular alternative to traditional fish oil due to its wide-ranging health benefits and exceptional bioavailability. If you’re interested in learning more about the advantages of krill oil and whether supplementing is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider first. Your doctor can determine if a krill oil supplement can benefit your overall health, and guide you to the appropriate dose you should take for a specific condition.
If you receive a doctor’s approval to supplement, choose wisely. There are plenty of options on the market, and they aren’t cheap! Shop around and choose a krill supplement rich in EPA and DHA, made with MSO extraction technology, so you can be sure you’re getting the most for your money.