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