Krill Oil Benefits | ... Free Vitamin Encyclopedia.

Krill Oil Benefits

Krill Oil continues to receive attention for its potential health benefits. But what does this research actually tell us?

Vital Ingredients

Krill oil is a rich natural source of the essential fatty acids known as Omega-3’s, especially EPA and DHA.[1] It’s also a natural source of the antioxidant astaxanthin.[2] Perhaps the most important component of krill oil, however, is its abundant phospholipid content.[3]

Why Phospholipids Are Important

It is believed that the phospholipid content of krill oil makes the Omega-3’s more bioavailable than the prior go-to supplement, fish oil (which contains triglycerides). In several studies, Omega-3’s have been found to be more absorbable when attached to phospholipids[4] , and others have found krill oil just as effective as fish oil in lower doses[5] .

Areas of Krill Oil Study

So far, krill oil has been studied in relation to several different health conditions, including:

Cardiovascular Health

Krill oil has been found to increase plasma amounts of EPA and DHA.[6] Low levels of these Omega-3’s are considered a risk factor for Coronary Heart Disease.[7] When it comes to cholesterol, krill oil was found to “significantly reduce total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides, and increase HDL levels.”[8] The same study found that, “At lower and equal doses, krill oil was significantly more effective than fish oil for the reduction of glucose, triglycerides, and LDL levels.”[9]
Research has shown EPA and DHA can actually help reduce the chances of developing heart disease by lowering our cholesterol, heart rate, blood pressure and triglycerides.[10] The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat at least 2 servings per week of EPA and DHA-rich foods or take an Omega-3 supplement, like krill oil.

Psychological And Brain Health

The human brain is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially DHA (an Omega-3 fatty acid).[11] The concentration of DHA in the brain rises slowly but steadily during fetal development and the first few years of life, proving the importance of Omega-3’s in maintaining proper membrane structure and functioning of the brain. Not only have Omega-3 fatty acids been found to improve cognitive functioning, they have also been found to prevent dementia.[12] Another study found that adults with a higher dietary intake of DHA had a 60 to 70 percent reduction in their risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.[13]

Krill oil has specifically been found to help combat the depression and anxiety associated with PMS.[14] Meanwhile, the astaxanthin found in krill oil has been found to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier, protect brain cells from oxidative damage and be a “potent candidate for brain food.”[15]Another study indicated astaxanthin lowered the levels of PLOOH, a toxic dementia-related metabolite in the red blood cells of healthy older adults. The researchers concluded that astaxanthin may well contribute to the prevention of dementia.[16]

Bone And Joint Health

There is evidence to indicate krill oil may help treat arthritic joint tissue by neutralizing pro-inflammatory activity.

In a group of aging individuals inflicted with arthritic pain, 300 mg per day of krill oil alone slashed pro-inflammatory C-reactive protein activity in half after just one month.[17]

In a separate study of krill oil combined with hyaluronic acid and astaxanthin—both of which target pro-inflammatory agents in the body—arthritis patients reported a 55% pain reduction in under three months, with 63% entirely pain-free.[18] Other findings show that adding the omega-3s EPA and DHA from marine oils to a glucosamine supplement produced superior pain relief compared with the glucosamine supplement alone.[19]

Finally, when compared head to head krill oil was found to be more effective than fish oil in relieving arthritis symptoms.[20]

Metabolic Health And Weight Management

Hepatic lipogenisis is the process by which the body converts extra cabrohydrates to fat. One study found Krill Oil inhibited this process to a much greater degree than fish oil.[21] Another finds it to have the same metabolic effects as fish oil at lower doses.[22]

Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a combination of medical disorders that seem to underlie a dramatically increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Having metabolic syndrome usually shows up as excess weight, especially when concentrated around the middle. And it can make that weight very difficult to lose. Other signs include resistance or even diabetes, high triglycerides and high blood pressure.

Yet studies show the astaxanthin in krill oil can ameliorate symptoms of metabolic syndrome,[23] prevent further damage to the pancreas[24] and increase sensitivity,[25] and lowered triglycerides and raised HDL levels in humans.[26]

Finally, astaxanthin was found to inhibit weight gain resulting from a high fat diet.[27] It also increased the amount of fat used during exercise[28]and improved exercise endurance.[29]


Repeated studies have found that Omega-3′s, specifically EPA & DHA, are the key to combating chronic inflammation.[30] For years fish oil has been studied as an effective source of Omega-3′s with good results. But recently krill oil has been found more effective.[31]

Astaxanthin has been shown to provide direct anti-inflammatory benefits.[32] [33] It also inhibits COX-2 expression[34] and protect against DNA damage.[35] It has been repeatedly shown[36] to have the highest antioxidant capacity of the carotenoid class.[37] In these tests, it was shown to be as much as 550 times more powerful than vitamin E and as much as 3X more powerful than lutein – just a couple of the nutrients to have gotten lots of press in recent years. In general, researchers estimate astaxanthin to have about 10X the antioxidant power of other carotenoids.[38]

For more information on choosing a krill oil supplement, see our Krill Oil Product Recommendations.

See Also:

  1. ^ “Krill oil. Monograph”. Altern Med Rev15 (1): 84–6. 2010. PMID 20359272
  2. ^ Ali-Nehari, Abdelkader; Kim, Seon-Bong; Lee, Yang-Bong; Lee, Hye-youn; Chun, Byung-Soo (14 November 2011). “Characterization of oil including astaxanthin extracted from krill (Euphausia superba) using supercritical carbon dioxide and organic solvent as comparative method”. Korean Journal of Chemical Engineering29 (3): 329–336. doi:10.1007/s11814-011-0186-2.
  3. ^ “Krill oil. Monograph”. Altern Med Rev15 (1): 84–6. 2010. PMID 20359272
  4. ^ Amate, Laura, Angel Gil, and María Ramírez. “Feeding infant piglets formula with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids as triacylglycerols or phospholipids influences the distribution of these fatty acids in plasma lipoprotein fractions.” The Journal of nutrition 131.4 (2001): 1250-1255
  5. ^ Ulven, Stine M., et al. “Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers.” Lipids 46.1 (2011): 37-46.
  6. ^ Maki, Kevin C., et al. “Krill oil supplementation increases plasma concentrations of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in overweight and obese men and women.” Nutrition research 29.9 (2009): 609-615.
  7. ^ Harris, William S., and Clemens Von Schacky. “The Omega-3 Index: a new risk factor for death from coronary heart disease?.” Preventive medicine 39.1 (2004): 212-220.
  8. ^ Bunea, Ruxandra, Khassan El Farrah, and Luisa Deutsch. “Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia.” Altern Med Rev 9.4 (2004): 420-428.
  9. ^ ibid
  10. ^ Mori, Trevor A., and Richard J. Woodman. “The independent effects of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid on cardiovascular risk factors in humans.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 9.2 (2006): 95-104.
  11. ^ Salem Jr, Norman, et al. “Mechanisms of action of docosahexaenoic acid in the nervous system.” Lipids 36.9 (2001): 945-959.
  12. ^ Devore, Elizabeth E., et al. “Dietary intake of fish and omega-3 fatty acids in relation to long-term dementia risk.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 90.1 (2009): 170-176.
  13. ^ Morris, Martha Clare, et al. “Consumption of fish and n-3 fatty acids and risk of incident Alzheimer disease.” Archives of neurology 60.7 (2003): 940-946.
  14. ^ Sampalis, Fotini, et al. “Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil™ on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea.” Alternative medicine review 8.2 (2003): 171-179.
  15. ^ Liu, Xuebo, and Toshihiko Osawa. “Astaxanthin protects neuronal cells against oxidative damage and is a potent candidate for brain food.” Food Factors for Health Promotion. Vol. 61. Karger Publishers, 2009. 129-135.
  16. ^ Nakagawa, Kiyotaka, et al. “Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes.” British journal of nutrition 105.11 (2011): 1563-1571
  17. ^ Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Feb;26(1):39-48.
  18. ^ Valensa. FlexPro MD Clinical Trial Overview and Results. (Data on File.) 2011.
  19. ^ Gruenwald J, Petzold E, Busch R, Petzold HP, Graubaum HJ. Effect of glucosamine sulfate with or without omega-3 fatty acids in patients with osteoarthritis. Adv Ther. 2009 Sep;26(9):858-71.
  20. ^ Ierna, Michelle, et al. “Supplementation of diet with krill oil protects against experimental rheumatoid arthritis.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders 11.1 (2010): 1.
  21. ^ Ferramosca, A., L. Conte, and V. Zara. “A krill oil supplemented diet reduces the activities of the mitochondrial tricarboxylate carrier and of the cytosolic lipogenic enzymes in rats.” Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 96.2 (2012): 295-306.
  22. ^ Ulven, Stine M., et al. “Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers.” Lipids 46.1 (2011): 37-46.
  23. ^ Hussein, Ghazi, et al. “Astaxanthin ameliorates features of metabolic syndrome in SHR/NDmcr-cp.” Life sciences 80.6 (2007): 522-529.
  24. ^ Uchiyama, Kazuhiko, et al. “Astaxanthin protects β-cells against glucose toxicity in diabetic db/db mice.” Redox Report 7.5 (2002): 290-293.
  25. ^ Preuss, Harry G., et al. “High dose astaxanthin lowers blood pressure and increases sensitivity in rats: are these effects interdependent.” Int J Med Sci 8.2 (2011): 126-138.
  26. ^ Yoshida, Hiroshi, et al. “Administration of natural astaxanthin increases serum HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin in subjects with mild hyperlipidemia.” Atherosclerosis 209.2 (2010): 520-523.
  27. ^ Ikeuchi, Mayumi, et al. “Effects of astaxanthin in obese mice fed a high-fat diet.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 71.4 (2007): 893-899.
  28. ^ Aoi, Wataru, et al. “Astaxanthin improves muscle lipid metabolism in exercise via inhibitory effect of oxidative CPT I modification.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 366.4 (2008): 892-897.
  29. ^ Ikeuchi, Mayumi, et al. “Effects of astaxanthin supplementation on exercise-induced fatigue in mice.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 29.10 (2006): 2106-2110.
  30. ^ Calder, Philip C. “n− 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases.” The American journal of clinical nutrition83.6 (2006): S1505-1519S.
  31. ^ Deutsch, Luisa. “Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms.” Journal of the American college of nutrition 26.1 (2007): 39-48.
  32. ^ Ohgami, Kazuhiro, et al. “Effects of astaxanthin on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo.” Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 44.6 (2003): 2694-2701.
  33. ^ Pashkow, Fredric J., David G. Watumull, and Charles L. Campbell. “Astaxanthin: a novel potential treatment for oxidative stress and inflammation in cardiovascular disease.” The American journal of cardiology 101.10 (2008): S58-S68.
  34. ^ Choi, Seok-Keun, et al. “Effects of astaxanthin on the production of NO and the expression of COX-2 and iNOS in LPS-stimulated BV2 microglial cells.” J. Microbiol. Biotechnol 18.12 (2008): 1990-1996.
  35. ^ Santocono, Marcello, et al. “Lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin protect against DNA damage in SK-N-SH human neuroblastoma cells induced by reactive nitrogen species.” Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology 88.1 (2007): 1-10.
  36. ^ Capelli, Bob, and G. Cysewski. “Natural astaxanthin: king of the carotenoids.” Cyanotech Corporation, Kona-Kailua, Hawaii2007, ISBN-131338702314 (2007).
  37. ^ Naguib, Yousry MA. “Antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 48.4 (2000): 1150-1154.
  38. ^ Hussein, Ghazi, et al. “Astaxanthin, a carotenoid with potential in human health and nutrition⊥.” Journal of natural products 69.3 (2006): 443-449.