Heart, Inflammation, Joint disorders | February 5, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Krill oil is a small shrimp-like crustacean which inhabits deep Antarctic waters. It is a rich source of omega-3, phospholipids and a unique antioxidant called astaxanthin which is responsible for the oils red pigment. Research has found that krill oil is effective in reducing cholesterol, inflammation and arthritis symptoms. It can also be used for cardiovascular support, painful periods and premenstrual syndrome.
The Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a small crustacean which inhabits the Southern Ocean and is the main food source for baleen whales. Krill only live one to two years and because they live in pristine waters they are naturally very low in contaminants such as heavy metals, dioxins and pesticides.
The phospholipids in krill oil are predominately phosphatidylcholine (also known as lecithin) and make up around 80% of total phospholipid content. Other phospholipids make up the remaining 20% and include phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine and sphingomyelin. Phospholipids are major components of all cell membranes, where they have both structural and metabolic roles.
Fats and lipids such as omega-3 and phospholipids are important components of cells which are the basic building blocks of life.
Omega-3 fatty acids serve many vital roles within the body—important for good health and vitality. They consist of EPA and DHA which influence immune function, heart health and inflammation. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid present in the brain and eyes. A deficiency in this important fatty acid affects mood, cognition, gene expression and immunity. EPA has important roles with neural signalling and synapse formation and has been shown to help with depressive symptoms. Both EPA and DHA are vitally important for the control of inflammation.
Krill oil in naturally high in the antioxidants astaxanthin, and the fat-soluble vitamins A and E. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid antioxidant which has a red-orange pigment. Studies suggest that it is a potent antioxidant—500 times stronger than vitamin E. Astaxanthin is also capable of reducing inflammation in the body and in vitro studies found it reduced a variety of mediators involved in an inflammatory response.
Krill oil has been found to have beneficial effects on elevated blood lipid levels. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared krill oil consumption to placebo for 28 days.
Researchers found that at the end of the trial period the participants triglycerides, “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and total cholesterol decreased, while antioxidant capacity was increased. Krill oil supplementation also helped to create a better balance of omega-3 to omega-6 ratio which is associated with decreased levels of inflammation.
Other similar trials have concluded comparable results and have found krill oil superior to fish oil in reducing cardiovascular disease risk parameters such as elevated glucose and blood lipid levels.
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Inflammation is not only a key feature of arthritis but is a driver behind a wide-range of disorders and diseases. Research has identified krill oil to have significant anti-inflammatory effects—especially in cardiovascular disease, arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and mild knee pain.
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Krill oil’s anti-inflammatory effects, and its efficacy on arthritic symptoms were investigated in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 90 individuals aged between 30 and 75 years with confirmed cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, and with increased levels of C-reactive protein (a blood test marker for inflammation in the body). Krill oil, at a dose of 300 mg daily, was compared to placebo for 30 days.
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After 7 days of treatment krill oil reduced C-reactive protein (CRP) by 19.3% compared to an increase by 15.7% observed in the placebo group. After 14 and 30 days of treatment NKO further decreased CRP by 29.7% and 30.9% respectively. After 7 days of treatment, krill oil reduced pain scores by 28.9%, stiffness by 20.3%, and functional impairment by 22.8%. The researchers concluded that krill oil at a daily dose of 300mg significantly inhibited inflammation and reduced arthritic symptoms within 1-2 weeks.
Krill oil may be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and pain associated with menstruation (dysmenorrhea).
In a double-blind randomised controlled trial, 70 women diagnosed with PMS received either 2 g of krill oil or fish oil daily for one month, and then for just 8 days prior to and 2 days after menstruation for the following 2 cycles. As indicated by a self-assessment questionnaire (which assessed 10 parameters, including breast tenderness, stress, irritability, depression, swelling, bloating and other symptoms), with krill oil there was statistically significant improvement in all the emotional and physical symptoms related to PMS after both one and 3 months.
It is likely that krill oil can cause some minor side-effects such as bad breath, heartburn, fishy taste, upset stomach, nausea and loose stools. People with allergies to shellfish or seafood, should avoid supplementing with krill oil or use with caution. Krill oil has not been studied for safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding—stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Because krill oil can slow blood clotting, there is concern that it might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery and for people taking anti-coagulant/antiplatelet medications. It is advised you discontinue krill oil at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery and use with caution with blood-thinning medications.
Berge RK, et al. Krill oil reduces plasma triacylglycerol level and improves related lipoprotein particle concentration, fatty acid composition and redox status in healthy young adults - a pilot study. Lipids Health Dis. 2015 Dec 15;14:163