Krill Oil – History, Uses, and Benefits
If you want all the benefits of fish oil, plus more, and don’t want to take fistfuls of pills or deal with rank fish burps then keep reading. Krill are small crustaceans found in oceans across the globe.
Krill oil was first approved in 1999 by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a nutraceutical dietary supplement.  In the past five years, krill oil exploded in popularity as a highly bioavailable source of the Omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) with the added benefit of the potent antioxidant astaxanthin.
Krill is the largest biomass in the world, comprising roughly 500 million tons, but is one of the most expensive sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Fish like sardines and anchovies yield up to 80% fat by weight and takes days to experience significant oxidation whereas krill oil may only yield only 5% fat and begin oxidizing in hours.  As a result, manufacturers must freeze or use significantly larger quantities of fresh krill to extract the equivalent amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.
One would assume that these practices lead to the over-harvesting and yet less than 1% of the total krill population is harvested every year.  Although the oil extraction process is inefficient and labor-intensive, krill is an extremely sustainable source of heart-healthy fatty acids and antioxidants.
Fish oil supplements are the most commonly consumed non-vitamin/non-mineral supplement taken by both children and adults. 7.8% of adults (~18.8 million) and 1.1% of children (664,000) between the ages of 4 and 17 consumed a fish oil supplement at least once in the past 30 days. 
Fish oil supplements may be the most popular choice, these capsules can cause rancid fish burps and may require the consumption of up to 10 capsules just to obtain the recommended quantities of EPA and DHA. Krill oil is quickly gaining popularity as both children and adults look for purer and more effective alternatives to fish oil.
Krill Oil Uses
Krill oil is rich in EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids as well as the antioxidant astaxanthin and the brains-supporting essential nutrient choline.  EPA and DHA are essentially fatty acids (EFAs) that must be orally ingested and cannot by synthesized by the human body. EFAs support healthy cell membrane formation, regulated blood clotting, skin and nail production, as well as normal thyroid, adrenal, liver, immune, hormone, brain, and nervous system function. 
The typical Western diet is high in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids and low in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. Those looking to increase their Omega-3 fatty acid consumption may consume krill oil to achieve the recommended 4:1 or 2:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 EFAs.
In addition to being used as a supplement to optimize overall health and wellness, users may specifically consume one to three grams of krill oil to fight inflammation, improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as alleviate the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  Daily doses of six to eight milligrams of the antioxidant astaxanthin, an amount reasonably obtained through krill oil supplementation, offers cardioprotective, blood-sugar-reducing, and blood-flow-enhancing properties. 
If you have a family history of heart disease, are currently combating, or looking to prevent high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then krill oil may be for you.
The optimal krill oil supplement contains at least 40% phospholipids as measured by total oil weight and at least 750mcg of astaxanthin per gram.  The daily consumption of krill oil does not offer acute effects immediately noticed after ingestion, but its chronic use can improve your overall health and longevity.
Krill Oil Benefits
The daily consumption of one to three grams of krill oil appears to decrease inflammation (as measured by C-reactive protein), increase good (HDL) cholesterol, decrease bad (LDL) and total cholesterol, as well as decrease triglyceride levels and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  Diabetics may benefit from its blood-sugar-regulating properties.
Those combating depression may experience the alleviation of symptoms and improved mood through EPA and DHA’s abilities to increase corticotropin-releasing hormone, dopamine, and serotonin levels Furthermore, krill oil is extremely safe and offers more bioavailable forms of EPA and DHA compared to fish oil.
Ninety patients with either cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis and C-reactive protein (CRP) blood levels greater than 1.0mg/dl consumed either 300mg of krill or placebo capsules daily for 30 days. At the seven, fourteen, and thirty day markers krill oil reduced C-reactive protein by 19.3%, 29.7%, and 30.9%, respectively. 
The lowering of CRP indicates decreased inflammation throughout the body. After just seven days, krill oil as reduced pain, stiffness, and functional impairment scores by 28.9%, 20.3%, and 22.8%, respectively.  These findings are exceptionally promising for those with quality-of-life-impairing conditions causing high levels of inflammation.
A multi-center three-month study split 120 patients with high levels of fat in the blood in to four groups and asked them to consume either 2 to 3 grams of krill oil, 1 to 1.5 grams of krill oil, 3 grams of fish oil, or placebo capsules daily. After 90 days both krill oil groups significantly decreased glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol to a greater degree than both fish oil and placebo groups. 
A second study examined daily krill oil supplementation between 0.5 and 4 grams per day for twelve weeks in a population of 300 males and females. All krill oil groups reduced triglycerides by an average of 10.2% compared to the olive oil placebo.10 Those who benefited the most from krill oil consumed the least amount of fish and had the highest initial triglyceride levels.
Krill oil also appears to improve overall cognitive function. A study of 45 males between the ages of 61 and 72 consumed either two grams of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), krill oil, or sardine oil daily for twelve weeks and completed memory and calculation tasks.
Krill oil significantly increased oxygen-loaded hemoglobin in the brain, the predominant protein in red blood cells, during both working memory and calculation tasks.  Low levels of oxyhemoglobin in the brain may indicate a number of life-threatening conditions and decreased cognitive performance.
A small study of twelve healthy males with an average age of 31 consumed 1,680mg of combined EPA/DHA through krill oil high in phospholipids, fish oil high in ethyl-esters (EE), or fish oil high in re-esterfied triacylglycerides (rTAG). This double-blind study found that krill oil increased EPA and DHA levels in the blood nearly 34% more than fish high in rTAG and 68% more than fish oil high in EE after just 72 hours.  Krill oil isn’t just an expensive marketing gimmick; it’s a highly bioavailable form of EFAs.
Most studies examine the combined benefits of EPA, DHA, and astaxanthin found in krill oil. One study examined the individual benefits found from ingesting two or eight milligrams of astaxanthin per day in females with an average age of 21.5.
When consumed daily for eight weeks, oral ingestion of astaxanthin increased levels of this antioxidant in the blood, decreased C-reactive protein and biomarkers indicating DNA damage, as well as improved overall immune function through the increase of T and B cells.  Astaxanthin offers exceptional health-promoting benefits and further supports the use of krill oil over fish oil.
Krill oil contains more antioxidants and more bioavailable forms of EPA and DHA compared to fish oil. Whereas fish oil has EPA and DHA bound primarily to triglycerides, krill oil has these Omega-3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids, non-esterified fatty acids, di-, and tri-glycerides. 
The majority of which is bound to highly bioavailable phospholipids. Krill oil requires only about two-thirds, or 62.8% of the EPA and DHA content found in fish oil to achieve the same benefits. 
The study yielding these findings dosed krill oil daily for seven weeks at 3,000mg per day (543mg of combined EPA/DHA) and compared it to fish oil at 1,800mg per day (864mg of combined EPA/DHA).  If you’re tired of popping fistfuls of fish oil pills and don’t mind paying a premium for a more bioavailable EFA supplement with a higher antioxidant content, then krill oil may be for you.
When it comes to safety, krill oil is hard to beat. This animal is on the bottom of the food chain and feeds on phytoplankton so it doesn’t accumulate heavy metals like mercury, a common concern in fish oil supplements. 
The moderate consumption of krill oil has no specifically documented negative side effects. Excessive of any omega-3 fatty acid supplement may cause minor gastrointestinal symptoms such as burping, indigestion or diarrhea. 
Those who regularly consume nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or blood thinners like warfarin should consult with their health care professional before consuming krill oil. For the vast majority of the population krill oil is an exceptionally safe supplement with strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help regulate critical blood markers like cholesterol and triglycerides.
Tiger Fitness offers a handful of krill oil supplements with varying levels of EPA, DHA, and astaxanthin.
- Muscletech Krill Oil – Two softgel provides 2,000mg of krill oil, 226mg of EPA, and 124mg of DHA, 426mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and does not specify astaxanthin content.
- Labrada Nutrition Krill Oil – Two softgels provide 1,000mg of krill oil, 100mg of EPA, 55mg of DHA, 190mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, and 200mcg of astaxanthin.
- Wfit Nutrition Omega Enhanced – Two softgels provide 760mg of krill oil, 720mg fish oil, 270mg of EPA,162mg of DHA, and 400mcg of astaxanthin.
Have you tried or do you currently use krill oil? Did you experience benefits in addition to those discussed above? If so, then let me know in the comments below.
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