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Krill Oil – what’s in it for you?

Walking into a health food shop you cannot miss the strong presence of krill oil – one of the newer supplements on the shelf. You may be wondering what it is and how it may benefit your health.

What is krill oil?

Cholesterol

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Krill oil is derived from krill, small one to two centimetre long prawn-like crustaceans that live abundantly in the ocean.  These tiny crustaceans feed on phytoplankton found in the depth of the ocean and obtain important nutrients. Being nutritionally rich, krill then becomes part of the marine food chain and is strongly favoured by larger fish and mammals (e.g. whales). Krill exist in such abundance due to their ability to regenerate quickly.

I take fish oil to get my omega-3 fats. What is different with krill oil?

Like fish oil, krill oil is an important source of the omega-3 fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  What makes krill oil so popular is its bioavailability, or how quickly it is absorbed into your body.   It absorbs better because the omega‑3 fatty acids are attached to a different type of chemical than in fish oil.

Another difference between fish oil and krill oil is the presence of the antioxidant astaxanthin. Astaxanthin helps protect cell membranes against damage such as oxidation and free radicals.

What is krill oil good for?

Cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels

Results from a clinical study (1) involving 120 people with high cholesterol showed that krill oil reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (so called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides more effectively than fish oil using lower or equal doses. The krill oil administered to patients ranged between  1 to 3 grams a day.

Inflammation

Krill oil may provide temporary relief of arthritis by reducing joint inflammation and increasing joint mobility. The anti-inflammatory actions of krill oil are beneficial for the protection of healthy cell membranes but also the reduction of inflammatory chemicals. A study (2) involving 90 patients found a daily intake of 300 mg of Neptune Krill Oil significantly reduced arthritic symptoms within 7 to 14 days without the side effects of many of the anti inflammatory drugs commonly used today

PMS

A study (3) evaluated the treatment of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with krill oil compared to fish oil. The study found supplementation with krill oil significantly reduced the physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS and relieved PMS symptoms more effectively than fish oil.

References

(1)    Alternative Medicine Review 2004;9(4): pages 420 – 428
(2)    Journal of the American College of Nutrition Aug 1, 2009, 139: pages 1495 – 1501
(3)    Alternative Medicine Review 2003;8(2): pages 171 – 179

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