Krill is a small shrimp-like sea animal (a crustacean) that lives in the ocean. They feed mainly on plankton and they form the food of other fish such as whales, squid, penguins, etc. Krill fish oil is extracted from a species called Euphausia superba. The oil from krill contains important nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, phospholipid derived fatty acids and astaxanthin, an antioxidant. Krill oil is sold as a nutritional supplement in the form of pills and capsules.
The only edible part of the krill is its tail which is known for the rich concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. They are used in soups and seafood salads and some Asians are known to prefer dried krill. In Korea and Taiwan, krill is traditional food and in Japan krill makes a luscious delicacy called okiami. Krill paste is used for seasoning and garnishing food.
The omega 3 fatty acids contained in krill oil are anti-inflammatory in nature and seen to reduce cholesterol, reduce triglycerides, and cause platelets to become less sticky. This aspect reduces the chance of clot formation. The astaxanthin in krill oil (the red pigment that gives krill and lobsters the reddish pink color) are potent antioxidants that counter the action of free radicals in our body. Astanxanthin has the capability to cross the blood-brain barrier and can protect the brain and eyes from free radical damage.
Research has indicated that taking krill oil can reduce symptoms of PMS and arthritic inflammation.
Krill Oil Dosages
The amount of krill oil that an individual needs to take as a supplement depends on factors such as the age of the person, his/her general health, etc.
A serving size of 1 to 1.5 g of the oil is suggested in the treatment of cholesterol. About 300 mg of krill oil per day has been seen to alleviate symptoms of arthritis significantly. Having 2 to 3 g of krill oil daily is seen to reduce blood triglyceride levels.
It is recommended that 2 krill oil supplement capsules (1000 mg of krill oil) can be taken along with the first meal of the day by both men and women.
These supplement capsules can be given to children only on the advice of a consulting medical specialist. It is not recommended for use by pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Individuals who are allergic to seafood may also be allergic to krill oil supplements. However, such people should exercise caution while consuming the supplement.
Individuals who are on other blood thinning medications should have krill oil supplements only under the advice of a medical specialist.
Differences between Krill Oil and Fish Oil
Consumption of both krill and fish oils have nutritional benefits. Krill oil is, however, more expensive than fish oil. The production and consumption of fish oil (cod liver oil) started from as early as the 18th century. Today, fish oil is extracted from other cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, etc., and also from the blubber of whales and seals. Commercial krill oil has been available in the market only for the last ten years or so.
Both fish and krill oils contain omega 3 fatty acids and these are vital for cellular health. Fish oil contains about 30 percent EPA and DHA, whereas krill oil typically contains 14 percent of the same fatty acids. Some studies have indicated that because krill oil contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, it is many more times potent than fish oil. Krill oil purportedly has a higher bioavailability when compared to fish oil.
Fish oil supplements are used to treat and prevent heart attacks, other heart diseases and high triglyceride levels in blood. Krill oil studies have indicated that it works to reduce severe premenstrual pain and other symptoms, controls blood glucose and lipid levels and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.