Health Benefits of Krill Oil

Krill are shrimp-like crustaceans that grow up to 2 inches long and serve as food for whales, fish, seals, and penguins. It’s estimated that krill may be one of the most abundant multi-celled organisms on the planet. They are predominantly sourced from the northern Pacific Ocean and the water surrounding Antarctica.

Krill are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which your body can only get from food or supplements. Omega-3s are a critical part of the membranes surrounding each of your cells. Omega-3s give your body energy and also serve important jobs in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system.  

Several kinds of fish are good sources of omega-3s, as are krill. Many people choose to ingest fish or krill oil to get the benefits of the omega-3s in fish and krill. There are three kinds of omega 3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Krill and fish oils contain EPA and DHA. Fish oil contains more omega-3s than krill oil. Krill oil, on the other hand, has the advantage of having a lot of phospholipids, which help your body better absorb omega-3s. 

Health Benefits

Krill oil, like fish oil, is a rich source of omega-3s, and it also offers antioxidants and vitamin A.

While much study has been conducted on fish oil's health benefits, there is less research on the health benefits of taking krill oil. Studies have shown health benefits attributed to krill oil, but in general, more research is needed. Early research shows that krill oil, like fish oil, may offer the following benefits:

Less Inflammation

Research suggests that omega-3s are likely to help with any type of illness involving inflammation in the body. One study showed that taking krill oil reduced pain, stiffness, and inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

PMS Symptom Relief

There is significant evidence suggesting that taking krill oil can reduce both the pain and emotional effects of PMS. The research shows that krill oil is much more effective for PMS symptoms than is fish oil.

Cardiovascular Health

Continued

The American Heart Association promotes omega-3s as a preventative against cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that the omega-3s in krill oil help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Studies also show that krill oil helps lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, which are both risk factors for heart disease.

Reduced Anxiety

One study has shown a link between omega-3 consumption and reduced levels of anxiety. The study concluded that omega-3s offer more significant anxiety improvement when the experienced anxiety levels are higher. The study concluded that to lessen anxiety, you should take at least 2 grams per day of omega-3s that include both DHA and EPA.

Decreased Risk of Colon Cancer

A single study suggests that the antioxidants found in krill oil may help prevent colon cancer. Further research is needed on this possible benefit of krill oil.

Health Risks

Research suggests that krill oil should be safe for most to consume, but you should watch out for side effects, potential negative interactions with other medications, and allergies.

Uncomfortable Side Effects

The side effects of taking krill oil are mild. Ingesting krill oil may give you bad breath, stomach discomfort, gas, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, headache, and smelly sweat. 

Medication Interactions

Krill oil can negatively interact with some medications like blood thinners, estrogens, beta-blockers, diuretics, and aspirin. If you are taking these types of medications, talk to your doctor.

Allergies

If you are allergic to any kind of seafood, steer clear of krill oil, which is made of seafood and may trigger allergic reactions.

Amounts and Dosage

Krill oil is sold as a supplement in soft gel form, but there isn’t enough research to determine a set recommended dose for krill oil, specifically. However, many use krill oil for its omega-3s, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking no more than 2 grams a day of EPA and DHA from dietary supplements. 

It’s always a good idea when considering a new supplement, like krill oil, to consult your doctor to confirm it won’t interact negatively with any other medications you may be taking and to get your doctor’s help ensuring the brand you’re considering is a reputable one.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 06, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Alternative Medicine Review: “Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea.”

Consumer Reports: “Are krill-oil pills as good as fish oil?.”

Hospital for Special Surgery: “New Clinical Trial Will Test Krill Oil for a Brighter Lupus Future.”

Lipids in Health and Disease: “Effects of Krill Oil on serum lipids of hyperlipidemic rats and human SW480 cells.”

National Institutes of Health: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fact Sheet for Consumers.” 

The Ohio State University: “Study: Omega 3s may help with anxiety.”

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Some Frequently Asked Questions.”

West Virginia University: “Determination of the nutritional value, protein quality and safety of krill protein concentrate isolated using an isolelectric solubilization/precipitation technique.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.