Benefits and Side Effects of Krill Oil

Although many espouse krill oil supplements, it is essential to know the benefits and whether there are any side effects from taking krill oil.

Krill oil receives attention and praise as a natural food additive with various health benefits. But, just what is known about krill oil? Do krill oil pills have any adverse effects or issues?

What are Krill?

These shrimp-like crustaceans live in the icy waters of Antarctica. They have become famous for their oil which contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

What is Krill Oil Health Benefits?

The Southwest Fisheries Science Center (NOAA) noted several reputed health benefits of krill oil but did not endorse any of these claims.

The group’s article notes that krill oil is marketed for cholesterol reduction, cardiovascular health, relief of joint pain as “brain food,” and ease of PMS symptoms.

Beneficial reduction of cholesterol levels, and other cardiovascular health benefits, had already been reported with other sources of omega fatty acids. Dr. Celeste Robb-Nicholson cited a promising short-term study with this benefit but suggested it would be wiser to use fish and plant oils that had received more scientific scrutiny.

Kerr et al. tested krill oil supplements on arthritic mice. Compared to mice taking no supplements or using fish-oil supplements, they reported very positive results for rheumatoid arthritis using krill oil supplements. They suggest further research investigating krill oil’s health benefits for osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

The Langone Medical Center’s report noted that other studies had reported benefits, including treatment for dysmenorrhea and PMS symptoms, and arthritis. However, they did not remarkably endorse those two studies; they seemed more convinced by a different report on the benefits of cholesterol levels.

What of Krill Oil Side Effects?

Dr. Celeste Robb-Nicholson claims krill oil has comparable adverse effects as fish oil. While not citing specific studies, her primary concern was an increased risk of bleeding if high oil doses were taken. It is a particular concern for people taking “blood thinners” such as Warfarin; these people may be seeking to reduce cholesterol by using fish oil or krill oil. One’s doctor should be consulted.

“Krill oil would be assumed to be non-toxic,” said Langone Medical Center.” However, they agree on the risk of “blood-thinning.” They, and others, note that some people are allergic to shellfish, shrimp, and fish.

Several studies mention that a few people have digestive upsets or “reflux” or that facial skin becomes oily. Robert S. McQuate’s report on the safety of one brand of krill oil found no severe side effects. The salty oil may cause extra fluid retention in a person needing to reduce dietary sodium.

Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil:

Krill oil contains higher omega fatty acids in the form of phospholipids, according to Kerr et al. Triacylglycerol or fatty acid ethyl esters are common fatty acid forms found in fish oils.

Is Krill Oil a Good Dietary Supplement?

Although oils are basically “fats” that remain liquid at room temperature, specific oils are recommended for complete nutrition.

There seems to be enough evidence that krill oil may be an excellent dietary supplement for people trying to improve their cholesterol levels. Still, they should be working with their doctors rather than simply self-medicating.

People taking blood thinners such as Warfarin, those with seafood allergies, and those on sodium-restricted diets should probably avoid krill oil.

Unfortunately, the other touted benefits of krill oil have yet to be firmly established; but at least there are few indications it is harmful.

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