Chances are you've heard of this tiny little animal. This little animal measures up at just two inches long, but it is a HUGE part of the food chain. These are the bread and butter of the ocean ecosystems here on Planet Earth, says National Geographic.

These little guys feed on phytoplankton, which are single-celled plants that live near the surface of the ocean. As a result, krill become a staple food for fish of all kinds, whales, and even birds.

The life of the ocean, above and below, depend upon krill. 

But did you know that these tiny little creatures have a benefit to us humans also? In this article, we will discuss about krill oil, what it can do for you, side effects, and how to use it in your daily life.

Before you go any further, get some info on Krill from Dr. Oz by watching this video here.

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What’s in It?

The main part of krill oil that we will talk about a lot today is Omega-3 fatty acids. These are important for many things, like lowering the levels of triglycerides and helping support a healthy brain. 

EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) are Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats. You can find these in certain fish and veggies. 

The Omega-3’s found in krill oil are unlike fish oil. They are absorbed and carried to the cells of the body in a phospholipid form. (Phospholipids are a type of lipids that are a critical component of cell membranes)

Combine Omega-3 fatty acids with a healthy diet and regular exercise, and you have a recipe for good heart health. You can lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Also, you can raise the levels of your "good" cholesterol. You can, in turn, prevent stroke, heart disease, and coronary artery disease.

What Can You Treat with Krill Oil?

Krill oil has been widely used to treat various ailments. Some of these include depression, cancer, osteoarthritis, and even PMS. It is important to note that research is still required to validate these uses. You should always talk to your doctor before deciding to use krill oil in your own course of treatment. 

Main Benefits of Krill Oil

One article, reviewed  by Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFFARCSI, DA, states the following benefits of krill oil: 

  • May help with cardiovascular well-being - Your cardiovascular health could improve with the use of krill oil. The Omega-3 fatty acids help lower the amount of bad cholesterol, increase the good type of cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels. It is also good for preventing blood clots, which lead to strokes and heart attacks.

  • Good for the lubrication of the joints - Thanks to those fantastic Omega-3's, users of krill oil may just see a decrease in the pain of their swollen joints. Krill oil may help reduce the pain that comes with arthritis, lower arthritis flare-ups, and increase mobility for people with joint issues.

  • May help contribute to mental alertness - Krill oil contains DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid and EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid. These are Omega-3 Fatty Acids that are key to brain health. While there have been no definitive studies that state krill oil can prevent dementia or cognitive decline, there was a trial conducted of 45 elderly, healthy men. The results were that brain activity of the prefrontal cortex increased for these men during working memory activities after 3 months of supplementation with krill oil. 

  • Great for helping with Premenstrual Syndrome - Krill oil can help women dealing with PMS, says one study. It can help you reduce menstrual cramps as well as the emotional effects that come about as a result of PMS. Krill oil helps lower inflammation, which would otherwise exacerbate the symptoms of PMS.

  • Good for the skin - Krill oil contains antioxidants. Antioxidants are measured using Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC. The numerical value of krill oil on this scale is 43. Krill oil also contains astaxanthin, a strong antioxidant. It promotes clear, healthy skin, and also helps you boost your immunity. Your body becomes better at seeking out and neutralizing free radicals. It, in turn, lowers the risk of developing chronic illnesses and helps you prevent other infections.

  • May help with depression - Says Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, MD, more research is needed on this topic, but the omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are important for healthy brain function. Krill oil is by no means a replacement for medications or therapy, but fish oil supplements rich in Omega-3’s like it may help lower the risk of depression. 

  • Aids digestion - Krill oil contains an abundance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which helps improve digestion. They help maintain good levels of blood sugar and cholesterol. They help your liver function more efficiently. The anti-inflammatory properties of krill oil can help you relieve an upset stomach, constipation, and hemorrhoids.

  • Osteoarthritis - As part of a good self-care routine, krill oil can be a helper when it comes to the relief of osteoarthritis. One should follow a diet that is rich in antioxidants, as this will aid in the chronic inflammation that is part of rheumatoid arthritis, such as the Mediterranean Diet. They should also engage in physician-recommended exercises or try gentle water exercise or light walking. Lastly, supplementing one's diet with krill oil will deliver Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which may help lower the swelling in the joints.

  • Good for fetus brain development - Says the American Pregnancy Association, Omega-3 Fatty Acids are critical for the development of fetuses. They are essential for visual and neurological growth. It is found that much of the Western diet lacks these nutrients.

Pregnant women often are deficient in Omega-3’s because the fetus uses them for the development of its nervous system. Furthermore, Omega-3’s are used once the baby is born to make breast milk. Mothers become more and more deficient in Omega-3’s with each pregnancy. 

Therefore, adding EPA and DHA to one's diet while pregnant has a positive impact on the cognitive and visual development of the fetus.

Note: Make sure you discuss with your GP before getting pregnant. Or if you are pregnant now-some prescriptions like LOVAZA, which is a prescription Omega-3 Fatty Acid, carry a Pregnancy Rating C. Be sure to talk to a doctor before using krill oil while pregnant or breastfeeding.

So, Does Krill Oil Really Work?

More research is needed to see if krill oil can be useful in the treatment of various ailments. However, the signs are good.

For instance, take a look at this study in which mice were divided up into a control group, krill oil group, and fish oil group. 

The latter two groups were given DHA and EPA, and on the 25th and 47th days of the study, arthritis was introduced to the mice.

After examining the blood and tissue of the mice, researchers concluded that krill oil greatly helped to reduce the progression of arthritis as compared to the fish oil.

The mice using krill oil did not show signs of arthritis until they reached day 54. Meanwhile, the control group showed that 43% of mice in the control group displayed arthritis symptoms, compared to just 15% of the mice using krill. 

What Are the Side Effects of Krill Oil? 

Most people will not have to worry about taking krill oil, but if you experience anything adverse, make sure to get medical help immediately. Some signs of an allergic reaction to krill oil include hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of the tongue, throat, face, or lips.

Stop using your krill oil right away and call your doctor immediately. Also, do this if you experience any of the following:

  • Chest pains
  • Irregular/uneven heartbeats
  • Body aches, fever, flu-like symptoms

You may also experience back pain, a fishy after-taste, belching up the taste of the capsules, or a mild skin rash. 

These are only SOME side effects, as every person is different and thus can react differently to various supplements. Make sure to talk to healthcare professionals about side effects if you have concerns.

How Can I Take Krill Oil?

Make sure you follow the instructions EXACTLY as they are listed on the label, or as your doctor prescribes. Make sure you don’t use them in amounts greater or lesser than instructed, or longer than recommended. 

Swallow the capsule for the krill oil whole. Do not open or chew on the capsule. You may find it is easier to take it with food. 

It is one part of a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and exercise. Make sure that you follow all physician recommendations for your own dietary and physical activity needs carefully as you use krill oil.

Make sure to store the krill oil at room temperature and avoid extreme heat and cold. 

Who Should NOT Take Krill Oil?

Do not use fish oils such as Krill Oil if you have a fish allergy. It includes fish, shrimp, or other seafood. 

Make sure to read the labels carefully before you purchase any supplement to be sure it will not adversely affect you. If you have any doubts, consult your pharmacist.

Make sure you talk to a doctor before using if you have any of the following: 

  • A surgery or procedure that increases the risk of bleeding
  • An underactive thyroid
  • Pancreatic disorder
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Consumption of two or more alcoholic drinks per day

You should also avoid consumption of foods that are high in cholesterol or fat. It will lower the effectiveness of krill oil if you do not follow the dietary changes your doctor recommends. 

Medications/Drugs Affecting Krill Oil

Before you decide to supplement with krill oil, it is advised that you speak with your doctor about the medications you are currently taking. 

Something you are already using could interact negatively with krill oil and have an adverse effect. Here are just a few of the medications that interact with krill oil: 

  • Diuretics (water pills) including but not limited to chlorothiazide, metolazone, indapamide, and chlorthalidone.
  • Orlistat, a weight-loss drug
  • Blood thinners like warfarin
  • Estrogen pills, such as birth control or hormone replacements
  • Aspirin/NSAID (ibuprofen, naproxen, Advil, etc.)
  • Beta-blockers including but not limited to atenolol, labetalol, metoprolol, and nadolol

Once again, we want to stress that this list is not complete, and you should speak with a doctor before deciding to use krill oil.

Conclusion

We highly encourage you to do your own research and see if krill oil is right for you. You need not make this an overnight change-see for yourself what the positive effects are and have a chat with your physician about introducing krill oil. It may be just a supplement to make you feel your very best.

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"Plain and simple, it works! I had prior joint issues and taking Krill oil has drastically improved those issues."