Krill oil has found its way into many homes and medicine cabinets for its potential benefits. But what makes krill oil so special? Is it really that good for you, or is it just a craze? You may be surprised at the many potential and promising benefits of krill oil supplements. You may be even more surprised at how it compares to other dietary supplements.
By understanding what krill oil is, its potential benefits, and how it compares to similar supplements, you can determine how to best support your daily nutrient intake and decide for yourself if this popular supplement is worth it for you.
What Is Krill Oil?
Krill is a small reddish pink crustacean that lives in oceans around the world. These crustaceans are a favorite meal for penguins and whales, but they are also harvested for their potential health benefits for humans. The most common form of krill is Antarctic krill.
As you may have guessed, krill oil is derived from… yep, krill! In recent years, krill oil has gained popularity as a health supplement, rich in nutrients like fatty acids, antioxidants, and more. This popular supplement can be taken in a soft gel capsule or by the spoonful.
Many people embrace krill oil as an alternative to other fish oil supplements, as it can provide additional potential health benefits. Although, krill oil is not as readily available as fish oil and may be harder to find in your local grocery store. It is also likely more expensive than fish oil. However, with the many potential health benefits it has to offer, krill oil may be worth the added effort and higher cost.
What Are the Health Benefits of Krill Oil?
Krill oil has continued to increase in popularity for several valid reasons. Since it is so high in important nutrients, many people embrace krill oil as a valuable supplement to their daily diet. The following are some of the prominent benefits of krill oil.
High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that make up important building blocks of cell membranes throughout the body. These fatty acids also help to provide the body energy and provide a plethora of health benefits for several bodily systems.
Krill oil contains the two most important omega-3s — docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA omega-3s provide a remarkably long list of potential health benefits, from supporting your heart health to promoting the health of your eyes. These two omega-3s can also support a positive mood, maintain healthy cognitive function, and maintain healthy joints. Both of these nutrients are important during pregnancy and childhood to support proper growth and development.
Krill oil is highly valuable because it is one of the few easily accessible sources of both of these essential fatty acids. Aside from fatty fish and fish oil, there are few sources of these two omega-3s in a standard diet. Krill and fish are both high in omega-3s because their diets are primarily algae, which is the original source of these precious fatty acids.
May Support Healthy Cholesterol Levels Already Within The Normal Range
In large part because of its omega-3 content, krill oil may support healthy cholesterol levels. In clinical trials, krill oil has shown promising results in supporting healthy cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels already within a normal range, which may support cardiovascular health.
Cholesterol levels are determined by a combination of good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL helps carry LDL cholesterol to the liver to be removed by the body, while LDL has the potential to build up in the arteries and drive health risks. Krill oil has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol levels, which is a good thing, but unfortunately it has also been shown to increase LDL cholesterol levels, which can contribute to health risks.
Rich in Antioxidants
Krill have a distinctive pink-red color created by a pigment called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is unique to krill oil and is one of the nutrients that sets this supplement apart from fish oil. Astaxanthin is a type of carotenoid and offers strong antioxidant properties in addition to other health benefits. Krill obtain astaxanthin from certain species of algae that they eat.
In general, antioxidants provide many great health benefits. Antioxidants help target free radicals in the body, which are responsible for the premature oxidation and aging of cells. These harmful molecules can exist in any part of the body and cause early damage to the cells in many bodily systems. With the help of antioxidants, you can fight back against these molecules and preserve the health of your cells over the long term.
Not only does astaxanthin provide the protection you would expect from other antioxidants, but it also serves other unique benefits. For example, this carotenoid provides protection against photoaging, or sun damage, to help you maintain healthy skin as you age. However, buyer beware when it comes to krill oil supplements. Some major brands may add "carmine color" as an ingredient to give that distinctive red color to their oil because the astaxanthin content is low.
More Bioavailability Than Fish Oil
Fish and krill oil are both rich sources of omega-3s, but the omega-3s found in krill oil may be more helpful. Every nutrient you consume has different bioavailability, meaning that the body is only able to absorb and use a certain percentage of what you consume. In comparison, krill oil is absorbed better by the body, meaning that you can consume less of it and still get the same amount of nutrients as fish oil.
The exact reason why krill oil is better absorbed is still unclear to scientists, but one theory is that the way the omega-3s are stored in krill and fish bodies makes an important difference. In fish oil, DHA and EPA are stored as triglycerides. On the other hand, in krill oil, DHA and EPA are stored in the form of phospholipids. These phospholipids may be processed better by the body.
Supports Your Brain Health
With its high omega-3 fatty acid content, krill oil is excellent for your brain. DHA and EPA omega-3 work together to provide multiple benefits. Through the help of DHA, krill oil helps support your brain’s cognitive function. This includes promoting healthy memory, supporting motor skills, and helping you maintain your concentration. As a result, krill oil is especially beneficial as you age, helping you maintain healthy cognitive function longer.
It appears that krill oil can also support your mental health. EPA omega-3s help support your emotional wellness, potentially helping you maintain a positive mood.
Supports a Healthy Blood Pressure Already Within The Normal Range
Again due to its high omega-3 content, krill oil does show the potential to support a healthy blood pressure already within the normal range. EPA fatty acids help maintain healthy blood pressure and healthy circulation. Since krill oil is rich in EPA omega-3s, it demonstrates the potential to help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels which already fall within normal ranges. Supporting your blood pressure is yet another way that krill oil supports your overall heart health.
Support for Premenstrual Syndrome
Neptune krill oil, which is specifically derived from krill in Antarctica, has been shown to be potentially effective in reducing symptoms that accompany premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Taking krill oil regularly may help ease the effects of PMS by promoting emotional wellness and potentially reducing the effects of dysmenorrhea. Krill oil may be able to provide helpful relief for the discomfort and moodiness that can accompany mild cases of PMS.
Helpful for Supporting Your Joints
Krill oil can also support healthy joints and help maintain more of their strength, especially as you age. Although it is not a treatment, the omega-3 content in krill oil means that consistently taking this supplement can provide comfort when joints are uncomfortable after normal daily activities like exercise or yard work.
Omega-3s can help support joint comfort and promote normal joint function. By promoting healthy blood flow and supporting the body’s ability to lubricate the joints, DHA and EPA omega-3s are valuable for their ability to support comfortable movement.
Should I Take Krill Oil?
Clearly, there are plenty of excellent reasons to start taking krill oil, but as with anything, you should weigh them against the potential downsides. For the most part, krill oil is likely safe with few side effects. However, taking krill oil (or fish oil) could result in side effects like an upset stomach, heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea. Like fish oil, krill oil can also leave you with unpleasant fishy burps and fishy breath.
When you take krill oil regularly, you may also experience slower blood clotting as a result of the high omega-3 content. This means that if you get a cut, you may bleed more, which can be dangerous for people with certain health conditions. Consult your doctor before taking omega-3 supplementation if you have blood clotting disorders or health conditions. Of course, krill oil can be especially dangerous if you have a seafood allergy.
If you are considering taking krill oil, you should always talk to your doctor to see if it is a good idea for you and your health. You should also weigh your options of the different supplements you can choose from, especially because krill oil does offer its own drawbacks.
Are There Alternatives to Krill Oil?
Despite the many benefits of krill oil, not everyone prefers to obtain these benefits from krill for various reasons. Many people avoid krill oil for environmental reasons or because they prefer not to consume animal products. In fact, one major natural grocery store in the U.S. has banned the sale of krill oil supplements because removing krill from the ocean creates a massive negative environmental impact. Other people have a seafood allergy that forces them to stay away. Many of the negative aspects of krill oil are also true of fish oil, showing a clear need for a true alternative to both supplements.
The largest benefits of krill oil are its omega-3 content and high antioxidant content. However, there are other options for supplements that are rich in both omega-3s and antioxidants. For many, the best of these options is algae-based supplements. Algae supplements are entirely plant-based, so they are excellent for virtually any lifestyle.
Algae-based supplements are rich in DHA and EPA omega-3s as well as antioxidants. In fact, they can even provide more omega-3 absorption than krill oil. As a result, you get many of the same benefits from algae-based omega-3 supplements as you do from krill oil, from maintaining cholesterol levels already within the normal range to nourishing your brain. Not only do you get the same benefits, but you also get them with lower amounts of omega-3 because it is such an efficient source.
Algae-based supplements are also a great option for those who avoid krill oil for environmental reasons. The production of krill oil takes thousands of krill out of the ocean every year to sustain just one person’s use. Because krill play such an important role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere, experts admit that they don't know the long-term consequences of commercial fishing of krill for human use. On the other hand, producing algae only requires a few ingredients — sunlight, CO2, and salty water with some added nutrients.
Altogether, algae preserves valuable natural resources, like soil and freshwater, while keeping important life in our oceans. Consequently, algae production is much more sustainable and far less harmful to the environment, making it an excellent alternative to both krill and fish oil supplements.
Whether you prefer to avoid krill oil or not, it is hard to make a case against choosing algae as an alternative — especially when you can obtain a long list of health benefits without the harsh scent of fish.
Start Cashing In Your Health Benefits
Krill oil offers a remarkable list of potential benefits with its impressive omega-3 and antioxidant content. However, you may be able to get just as many of these benefits from algae, if not more. With better omega-3 absorption, you can enjoy many potential benefits, including maintaining cholesterol levels already within the normal range, support for emotional wellness, and support for joint comfort and flexibility.
On top of it all, you can avoid any fishy aftertaste and the chances of an upset stomach… and you can avoid compromising your moral standards by trading off the health of the planet for your own supplement purchases. Now you don't have to choose between what's best for the Earth and what's best for your body!.
Start incorporating the many benefits of omega-3s from algae into your daily routine with iwi life. iwi life algae-based VegiKrill provides highly bioavailable omega-3, plus astaxanthin from algae (just like you'd get in krill oil) all in just one convenient softgel. Depending on the benefits you are looking for, we also offer a long list of specially formulated supplements with unique benefits. Explore iwi life’s complete family of algae-based products for yourself.
A Look at Krill Oil’s Benefits | Cleveland Clinic
Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea | PMC
Effects of krill oil containing n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in phospholipid form on human brain function: a randomized controlled trial in healthy elderly volunteers | PMC
Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review | PMC
Climate change and overfishing threaten once ‘endless’ Antarctic krill | Mongabay