Lately the market of health supplements has seen the rise of a new star: krill oil, in the form of little capsules packing some serious omega 3 acids, very similar to the well-known fish oil capsules, only red. If you’ve been wondering what to make of krill oil and exactly what are the benefits of krill oil and how does this new supplement compare to the regular fish oil we’ve all come to occasionally use, this is all you need to know. In the first section of our guide we will present you with a brief overview on the health benefits of krill oil, then we will discuss how krill oil is produced and potential concerns related to it, and finally, how the market’s two most popular omega 3 supplements compare when stacked against each other.
Without further ado, here is what you need to know about the top 7 health benefits of krill oil and how you can make the most of them, as well as what type of people could benefit from krill oil most.
A. Top 7 Benefits of Krill Oil
1. Krill Oil Lowers ‘Bad’ Cholesterol and Prevents Coronary Disease
One of the strongest claims of krill oil supporters and producers, the benefit of this oil for the health of the heart is also the most thoroughly researched and verified. Even in studies comparing results in a krill oil group vs. a Placebo group, the effects of krill oil on reducing the levels of bad cholesterol and of triglycerides, while also promoting the production of ‘good’ cholesterol were amazing. If sustained on the long-run, adding krill oil supplements to your diet can lead to a diminishing of CRP (the Cholesterol Reactive Protein) in your blood by almost 30%.
Of course, these health benefits of krill oil are best experienced and become long-lasting only if the dietary supplements come on top of some lifestyle changes to support them. Some exercise and a better diet work wonders for a healthy heart, and krill oil (as well as all omega-3 supplements in general) help make the diet & exercising more efficient faster. This also means that krill oil can assist with weight loss, making it easier to lose fat and gain lean muscle mass, provided that you make some effort for this besides taking krill oil supplements.
2. Krill Oil Helps Lower Joint Inflammation and Prevents Joint Disease
People suffering from arthritis or other forms of joint disease have reported some improvement in their overall levels of discomfort, after a while of taking krill oil supplements. The omega 3 acids and the phospholipids present in quality krill oil help reduce the overall inflammation levels in your body, while also supporting the production of ‘good’ fats like collagen. This cocktail of effects is especially beneficial to your joints.
3. Krill Oil Helps Feed the Brain and Supports Memory, Mood and Attention
Since omega 3 acids are basically brain food, it was to be expected that among the health benefits of krill oil, the support of brain health would play an important part. The most noticeable effects (according to a study based on self-reports) are improvements in memory, mood and attention, even in conditions of bodily stress. Such conditions of stress can include extreme temperatures, going on a diet (which usually makes people irritable and less able to concentrate on tasks) or simply having a bad time at work. If krill oil can help us be in our best shape while going through this kind of stuff, then it indeed merits the label of ‘brain food’.
4. Krill Oil Has a Helpful Effect on PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome)
Some studies have indicated that among the health benefits of krill oil is also the ability to alleviate PMS symptoms. The main symptoms measured were the breast tenderness some women experience before their periods, the mood swings and the levels of abdominal pain. It seems that krill oil can help with all that, so women can rejoice in this extra perk, in addition to the other health benefits of this oil.
5. Krill Oil May Help Sustain the Liver’s Natural Function and Activity
There are some studies that claim a sustained liver function among the health benefits of krill oil, but there needs to be more research before this can be a cold hard proven fact. While the results of such studies are yet inconclusive, krill oil testers and enthusiasts did report a perceived effect in getting rid of toxins faster (or getting over a hangover faster) while under krill oil treatment. If some liver difficulties are among your range of health issues, then feel free to give krill oil a try, but of course, only in addition to the medical treatment prescribed by your doctor.
6. Krill Oil Contributes to a Healthy and Beautiful Complexion (Skin)
Because of its properties of increasing collagen production and supplying the body with healthy fats, krill oil makes your skin glow with more luminosity and it boosts its elasticity. Furthermore, the deep red color of krill oil capsules comes from the diet-based pink hue of the krill, originating in precious algae. The red color particles that also give any krill oil capsule its characteristic tint are full of anti-oxidants, which slow ageing all across your body and are particularly beneficial to your skin.
7. Krill Oil May Balance the Overall Immune Function
Some studies claim that among the health benefits of krill oil is also the capacity of strengthening the immune system when it needs to be strengthened, and of overall helping it achieve the healthy balance it should have. While the results of such studies are yet inconclusive, if this sounds good to you, feel free to consider it an added perk to the already proven list of krill oil benefits.
B. How Is Krill Oil Produced and What Does It Contain?
Krill oil is produced from krill (euphausia superba), a species of very small crustacean animal similar to shrimp. They can be found all over the world’s oceans and their name comes from the Norwegian word ‘krill’, meaning ‘small fry fish’. In many parts of the world, krill is a part of the human diet, while other countries have so far only used krill as a food for fish and other marine animals (in fish farms).
Producing krill oil is a bit more delicate than the production of fish oil, because of a more reduced time limit. Fish oil can be left unharvested for 24 hours before it spoils, giving pill producers extra time to handle the processing of the substance. Krill oil, on the other hand, can go bad in only an hour since harvesting the animals, so this extra hurry requires more specialized tools (and work force). That is the main reason behind the price difference between krill oil and fish oil.
Extra Info: Potential Side Effects and Concerns about Krill Oil
One major concern regarding the production of krill oil supplements isn’t exactly related to human health, but to the environment. Some critics suggest that krill is such an important part of the diet of many marine animals (including whales), that its massive harvesting is actually threatening the lives of these krill-reliant species.
As for concerns regarding side effects for human health, the only hot issue is the origin of the krill used for producing the supplement. You need to be very careful when checking the source of the krill; you want a clean source, preferably ethically or sustainably harvested as well. Krill harvested from more dubious areas can be contaminated with mercury, which raises the question of side effects in the same way to the issue of consuming large fish from mercury-poisoned waters. As long as you choose a krill oil supplement that fully discloses the source of the krill and everything looks bio and sustainable, there’s no need to worry. This usually means going for a brand of krill oil a little more expensive, but not by much (Neptune and Dr. Oz are some of our favorites here).
C. Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil: Who Wins the Race?
The last question we will be addressing is why should you try krill oil, since there is also the longer tried and tested (not to mention much cheaper) alternative of fish oil supplements. It’s true that fish oil and krill oil may be quite similar in their effects, but all studies conducted on the matter so far point out that the health benefits of krill oil are more intense and noticeable compared to the same effect when caused by fish oil consumption. A look at the chart above can give you a better idea of just how much more effective krill oil can be.
Furthermore, the anti-oxidants present within krill oil (and which give the capsules their characteristic deep red color pigments) are also a perk which regular fish oil doesn’t have. Another advantage of krill oil is that it’s apparently easier to take: the capsules tend to be much smaller, since smaller amounts are enough to produce the wonderful health benefits of krill oil, and there is no fishy aftertaste or fish-smelling burps after taking them.
On the other hand, it can be argued that fish oil comes with its own advantages that krill oil does not have, like proving to be an effective remedy against asthma-related allergies. Also, some varieties of fish oil (like cod liver oil) come with their own unique health effects, more potent or rare than those of regular fish oil. To conclude, we think that fish oil should not be dethroned in favor of a much more expensive product that seems to do the same things, only with slightly more potency. Our recommendation is to try taking krill oil only 2 or 3 times a year, as an occasional treat, and stick to regular fish oil supplements the rest of the time. It will be better for both the environment and your spending.