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What are the best health benefits of krill oil? I hope you would have heard of the term omega-3 fatty acids and its health benefits. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) research suggests these fatty acids might reduce chronic disease risk1.
One of these excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids is Krill Oil. So, what exactly are Omega-3 fatty acids, and what is their primary function in our bodies?
1. What are Fatty Acids?
They are chained chemical molecules combining carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. There are two groups of fatty acids:
- Saturated fatty acids
- Unsaturated fatty acids
Saturated fats are unhealthy fats like butter, ghee, cheese, red meat, cakes, biscuits, and much more that are solids at room temperature that increase the risk of heart disease2.
Whereas unsaturated fats are heart-healthy fats like nuts, seeds, refined vegetable oils, and more that help with cholesterol, lowers triglyceride levels, and prevent heart disease.
These unsaturated fats break down into:
- Monounsaturated fatty acids
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Monounsaturated fats are olives, peanuts, avocados, nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and seeds like pumpkin and sesame seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are flax seeds, walnuts, and oils like sunflower, corn, and canola.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids support heart functioning, and they are considered a better substitute for saturated fats. They play a vital role in cell functions in the body, especially for the heart, lungs, blood vessels, eyes, immune system, brain, and nervous system.
Further, they also support the functioning of the endocrine system, like the pancreas, thyroid gland, pituitary glands, adrenal glands, and other hormones.
Among the foods that contain these fats are vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and leafy veggies. Consuming seafood and fish oil supplements are a fundamental source of these fatty acids in western culture3.
They are important when it comes to the functioning of cell membranes, and in building essential hormones that help in blood clot regulation4, contraction, and relaxation of arteries and reduce inflammation. Besides, omega-3 fatty acids prevent heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and other cardiovascular risk factors.
3. Classification of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid) – This fatty acid ALA consists of 18 carbon atoms. It is the most common source of fats in plant sources, vegetable oils, and nuts.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) – DHA contains 22 atoms of carbon. Fish usually contain this type of fat as their primary source. You have high DHA levels in the retina of the eye, brain, and sperm cells.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) – EPA contains 20 atoms of carbon, and is the common source of fats found in fish. Hence EPA and DHA are called Marine Omega 3s or Long-Chain (LC) Omega-3 fats.
4. What is Krill?
Before knowing about the health benefits of Krill Oil, let us understand krill. We are aware of fish oil and its health benefits. It is the oil extracted from fish tissues (oily fish), and fish oils are a rich source of EPA and DHA omega 3s.
The word “Krill” comes from a Norwegian name meaning “small fish,” which is usually species of fish. Krill belongs to the category of crustaceans with a hard outer body shell and many legs that live in oceans. In general, krill oil belongs to the class of marine oils.
It looks similar to a red lobster, a crab, or a prawn consumed by whales and other sea animals. These creatures live in large groups in water ranging to 30,000 per square meter, for which they have an alternative name, “marine omegas.“
5. What is Krill Oil? What are the benefits of Krill Oil?
Krill Oil is similar to fish oil derived from Antarctic krill, which has a high source of omega 3s with EPA and DHA fats, antioxidants, and vitamin A. This oil is gaining fame as an alternative to fish oil, although it requires more research to prove it. Regardless, there are a lot of benefits of krill oil5.
Krill Oil supplements are also rich in omega-3 fats that have healthy nutrients to reduce chronic inflammation. Krill oil gets usually sold in the form of soft gels.
So, should you know the benefits of krill oil in improving human health and start taking it? Let us take a look at the benefits of krill oil.
6. Health benefits of Krill Oil
6.1 Best Source of Healthy Fats
Although fish oil and krill oil has omega-3 fatty acids, studies from the National Library of Medicine say that taking krill oil is more manageable, more effective, and superior to raising omega 3s than fish oil in the blood. This can be listed as one of the best benefits of krill oil.
Fish oil has EPA and DHA in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides are fats or lipids that your body stores in fat cells in the form of calories that it does not need.
Unlike fish oil, krill oils have omega-3s in the form of molecules called phospholipids, lipids that possess phosphate groups in their chemical molecule. These lipids get carried and absorbed in the body tissues and cells easily.
To know about lipids, the journal named Lipids in Health and Disease (Lipids Health dis) publishes articles on all aspects of lipids.
6.2 Good for Heart
Krill Oil may help to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (Low-density Lipoprotein), blood glucose, and triglyceride levels. Moreover, it helps to increase good cholesterol levels 6called HDL (High-density Lipoprotein).
Also, studies from Mayo Clinic proceedings say that omega-3 dosage can help with cardiovascular outcomes since it has EPA and DHA. It helps in reducing blood pressure, and that prevents strokes and heart attacks.
6.3 Reduce Inflammation
Omega-3s in krill oil have anti-inflammatory properties. Some researchers say that krill oil may be more beneficial to combat inflammation than marine omega 3s as its absorption in the body cells is easy.
Krill oil has a powerful antioxidant called Astaxanthin7, a red pigment compound or carotenoid that protects it from oxidation and has several anti-inflammatory effects. Carotenoids8 are chemical molecules or pigments synthesized by algae, plants, or photosynthetic bacteria producing yellow, red, or orange color.
An investigation from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in 2016 shows that krill oil lowered inflammation of the intestine. Another study from NLM suggests taking a daily dosage of 300 mg of Neptune krill oil reduced inflammation and arthritic symptoms in 1-2 weeks.
Antarctic krill oil comes as softgels that deliver 1000 mg per soft gel as a daily supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Although there is not enough research, the above studies show fruitful results and one of the best benefits of krill oil.
6.4 Optimizes Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty-like matter in the body’s cells. Cholesterol is essential to the building of healthy cells and the production of hormones.
Our body makes 80% of the cholesterol in the liver, and the remaining 20% comes from the food we eat. If the cholesterol levels become high, fats get deposited in the arteries that obstruct the blood flow to your heart, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Researchers say that krill oil may be the best option to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease. Patients suffering from high cholesterol can take krill oil supplements as a substitute.
6.5 Lowers CRP (C-reactive protein)
CRP stands for C-reactive protein in the blood plasma, which rises in concentrations with increased inflammation. This inflammation protein increases the risk of heart problems and stroke. Hence, lowering the CRP will help inhibit heart disease and other health issues.
An article from Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation talks about reduced CRP levels of 30% after one month with the consumption of krill oil. A study from the Archives of Medical Science gives results about lowered CRP with a dosage of krill oil capsules as one of the best benefits of krill oil.
6.6 Reduce Arthritis and Joint Pain
Arthritis symptoms and joint pain usually result due to inflammation. Some investigators declare that krill oil consumption might lower problems like pain due to rheumatoid arthritis, stiffness, and functional disability.
The National Library of Medicine investigation shows improvement of mild knee joint pain performing a randomized control trial. Providing a 2 g dosage for 30 days decreased mild knee pain symptoms in adults.
Also, few investigators tested krill oil in mice having arthritis problems. When the mice were fed krill oil, they observed less swelling and inflammation in the joints and better arthritis scores.
6.7 Relieves PMS symptoms
PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome occurring in women that involves some hormonal changes during the menstrual period. PMS symptoms include fatigue, mood swings, cravings for food, irritation, and depression.
Researchers say women taking krill oil have better pain relief. Also, it can remarkably reduce the emotional effects of period pain and PMS with less pain medication. The reason is the omega-3 fats present in the krill oil may prove effective.
A clinical study trial from the National Library of Medicine shows the results of Neptune krill oil9 on premenstrual syndrome symptoms than women taking fish oil as an alternative medicine review and one of the best benefits of krill oil.
6.8 Reduces Anxiety
Krill oil appears to reduce anxiety in people suffering from physical and mental health problems. Omega 3 can help control worries when a person experiences higher anxiety.
Scientists suggest taking 2g of omega-3s can lessen these levels, whereas lower doses do not have much effect.
6.9 Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
As to World Health Organization (WHO), almost millions of people have diabetes in the world. Diabetes is an increased blood sugar level with a high risk for kidney problems, heart attacks, or strokes.
Higher glucose levels or sugar levels are an indication of risking cardiovascular health. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science stated that krill oil with randomized controlled trials lowered blood glucose levels.
6.10 Lowered risk of Colorectal Cancer
At the lower end of the digestive tract, the large intestine is where colorectal or colon cancer occurs. Adults above the age of 50 suffer from this disease. The symptoms are irregular bowel habits, stool inconsistency, abdominal discomfort, and bloody stools.
In vitro studies from the National Library of Medicine demonstrates krill oil has anti-cancer potential effects with a chemotherapeutic drug comparable to oxaliplatin (a medication used to treat colon cancer). Dietary supplements of krill oil act as the best therapeutic agent for colon cancer treatment.
6.11 Helps with Fertility
Many couples have issues with fertility, like less sperm count and poor sperm quality, a common reason for not being able to conceive. Getting treated for infertility issues can cost a large sum of money.
Omega 3s regulate hormones with the correct hormonal balance promoting healthy ovulation10, increased cervical mucus, and good health of the uterus.
6.12 Aids with Weight Loss
Being overweight is a big concern worldwide. Obesity is an emergent concern giving an outcome in heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.
6.13 Strengthen Memory
A health syndrome that harms memory and other mental functions is Alzheimer’s disease. The connections to brain nerves get damaged, resulting in memory loss. It is the leading form of dementia that doctors recognize in the world.
The EPA and DHA of Omega-3s in krill oil play an indispensable role in brain structure and performance. EPA supports mental and mood health, and DHA supports brain functioning.
6.14 Dry Eyes
Dry eyes happen when the tear ducts fail to produce liquid tears to keep the eyes moist. It usually occurs with aging, and the lack of moisture results in blurred vision, eye itching, redness of the eye, and more.
A journal in Ophthalmology in the National Library of Medicine performed a randomized clinical trial showing that krill oil improved tear stability in people and reduced dry eye symptoms more effectively than fish oil.
6.15 Improves gut bacteria
The bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, and other viruses found in the body’s gastrointestinal tract are called “Gut” bacteria. These bacteria play a role in maintaining the digestion, metabolism, and immune system. Overall, they improve health and prevent any disease.
Prebiotic and probiotic rich-foods help promote healthy bacteria that are requisite for intestinal health. Krill oil assists gut bacteria growth and keep checking on other undesirable bacteria.
If the gastrointestinal lining gets impaired with holes, a lot of toxins start flowing into the bloodstream resulting in a leaky gut. Krill oil also helps develop a healthy gut barrier preventing a leaky gut.
7. Risks and Side effects of Krill oil
Irrespective of the health benefits of krill oil, you must also watch out for its other risks, side effects, negative interactions with other medications, and other allergies. Some people experience a fishy taste while consuming krill oil.
However, krill oil side effects are mild; bad breath, an upset stomach, gas problems, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, or headache are some of them. A krill oil capsule may cause adverse reactions in people prone to seafood allergies.
Krill oil shows anti-effect reactions with medications like blood thinners, estrogens, aspirin, diuretics, or beta blockers. Blood thinners, called Anticoagulants, are medicines that prevent blood clots or coagulation. Blood thinning is a common side effect of fish oil and krill oil.
8. Medication and Measures
What are the benefits of krill oil? Since krill oil is available as a soft gel, there is not much research on its dosage. Certain health agencies prescribe a dose of 250-500 mg combination of DHA and EPA.
Some companies manufacture the krill oil capsule combined with Astaxanthin since it shows dual anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests not taking more than 2 grams of DHA and EPA from dietary supplements.
Additionally, as discussed above, krill oil affects blood thinning. People going for surgery or women who are either breastfeeding or pregnant or are taking a blood thinner must avoid taking krill oil. You must avoid consuming krill oil for at least two weeks before any fixed surgery.
Swallow the krill oil capsule completely. It is not recommended to open or puncture the capsule. You must also follow a proper diet, medication, and exercise as part of the dosage. You should not freeze the krill oil but store it at room temperature from moisture and heat.
Ignore taking krill oil in the case of seafood allergy. Overall, always consult a doctor before consuming krill oil or its supplements. Also, check for the label and ingredients on the krill oil package that may result in any allergy.
Moreover, krill oil capsules have a wide range of availability and are smaller than fish oil tablets. So, you can follow the dosage instructions provided on the package.
So how do you get omega 3s? Eating fish, especially cold-water fatty fish like herring, mackerel, sardines, marlin, salmon, or trout, you get omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are also excellent sources of omega-3 fats.
9. Final Note
What are the benefits of krill oil? As per the discussion above, krill oil gives you plenty of advantages and acts as an option to fish oil. It appears more effectual and productive when taken with a higher dose of omega-3 fish oil.
From reducing inflammation and lowering triglycerides, cholesterol levels, arthritis, and joint pain, krill oil has proven very effective and advantageous through various studies and research.
Although krill oil and its supplements give you the necessary benefits, a supplement should never replace a healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruits that provide you with natural iron, proteins, and other minerals.
10. Frequently Asked Questions:
- People with seafood allergies and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking krill oil.
- Multiple studies over the years tell us that krill oil is an effective supplement for reducing cardiovascular risk and improving overall heart health, with consistent evidence of increased Omega-3 Index levels in patients.
- When taken by mouth: Krill oil is possibly safe when used for up to 6 months. Side effects might include stomach upset, decreased appetite, heartburn, fishy burps, bloating, diarrhea, and nausea.
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