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What are the health benefits of krill oil?

Krill is a small, red, lobster-like creature found in the Atlantic Ocean. Krill oil is an essential fatty acid extracted from this crustacean. It contains the same omega-3 fatty acids as omega-3 fish oils , and is therefore chosen by many as an alternative. The fatty acids contained in krill are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Benefits of Krill Oil

Krill oil is an omega-3 fatty acid that contains numerous health benefits . Studies show that it helps lower C-reactive protein, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, and can reduce pain associated with rheumatism and osteoarthritis. A 2016 study showed that krill oil can inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells.

Lowers CRP (C-reactive protein)

CRP is an inflammatory protein that can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Excessive inflammation in the body is associated with many other diseases. A 2007 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that krill oil consumption reduced CRP levels, or inflammation, by nearly 20%. Additionally, a 2016 study in the Archives of Medical Science confirmed that taking just 500 mg of krill oil twice a day can reduce CRP.

Optimize cholesterol

Although cholesterol has become a household name and has a bad reputation, the fact is that cholesterol is very important to human health. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that performs many important functions in the human body. Only 20% of the cholesterol in your body comes from the food you eat. The other 80% is produced by your liver.

Cholesterol is necessary for the production of:

  • Vitamin D
  • Testosterone , the main male hormone
  • Estrogen, the main hormone in women
  • Myelin sheath, the protective covering of nerves
  • Bile, a green substance produced by the liver that helps us absorb fatty acids and certain vitamins

However, because elevated levels of total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, doctors often prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins (atorvastatin and simvastatin, among others) to patients with high cholesterol. Patients often seek out alternative options such as krill oil (and red yeast rice ).

A 2004 study in Alternative Medicine Review showed that consuming krill oil can reduce total cholesterol levels in the blood, while another 2013 study using an animal model also showed a reduction in total cholesterol levels.

Lower triglycerides

krill oil
krill oil

Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulates in the blood. Ideal levels should be less than 150 mg/dl (or less than 1.7 mmol/L). Elevated triglyceride levels are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A 2014 study showed that krill oil can reduce triglycerides by 10%. A 2017 study of 662 patients in Nutrition Reviews showed similar results in patients who took krill oil. Other studies have supported these results.

Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol

LDL (bad) cholesterol is considered a major risk factor for heart disease—specifically, oxidized LDL appears to be the problem. Doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications to lower LDL cholesterol. Krill oil is a natural option. A 2017 study of 662 patients in Nutrition Reviews showed that consuming krill oil can lower LDL. Other studies have shown similar results.

Can lower blood sugar levels

According to the World Health Organization, more than 422 million people worldwide have diabetes. Diabetes is a major risk factor for kidney disease krill oil can lower blood sugar (glucose), and a 2015 study in the British Medical Journal showed that consuming 1,000 mg per day can make insulin more effective by increasing glucose sensitivity. Other studies are ongoing.

Increase beneficial gut bacteria

Krill oil provides an excellent source of food for your gut bacteria and can help promote good gut bacteria. It is a prebiotic. Strains such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are essential for a healthy gut, and krill oil helps good bacteria grow while suppressing bad bacteria. A healthy gut barrier helps prevent leaky gut, a condition that has been linked to numerous health concerns. Learn more about leaky gut .


Fertility issues plague many couples. Low sperm count and poor sperm quality are common reasons why couples are unable to conceive. Treating infertility issues with a specialist can cost thousands of dollars. A 2017 study in Andrology showed that krill oil can improve sperm concentration and motility. This may be an inexpensive first option for patients to consider.

lose weight

Being overweight is a worldwide health problem. In the United States alone, two-thirds of people—or 215 million people—are considered overweight or obese. Obesity is also rapidly becoming a problem in China, Russia, and Europe. It can increase the risk of a host of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. A balanced diet and regular exercise are essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Supplements can sometimes help, too. A 2017 study in PLOS showed that krill oil helped obese mice lose weight, possibly by increasing metabolism through changes in the gut flora. However, more research is needed in people.

improve memory

Alzheimer’s disease is now the third leading cause of death in the United States and is considered by doctors to be the most common form of dementia. It helps maintain these levels. A 2017 study in Food and Function showed krill oil benefits on cognitive function in animal models. Additionally, a 2013 study in Clinical Interventions in Aging showed improved cognitive function in older adults who consumed krill oil. There are other supplements that can improve memory, especially when used in combination. Learn about other ways to improve your memory .

Dry Eyes

As we age, the tear glands in our eyes become less efficient at keeping our eyes moist through tears. This can cause blurred vision, redness, or a feeling that something is in the eye. Dry eyes are responsible for millions of visits to doctors each year. A 2017 study in Ophthalmology showed that people with dry eyes experienced improvements in their symptoms after supplementing with krill oil. Another 2017 study showed similar results, with krill oil preventing oxidation in the eyes when taken at 1,500 mg per day.

=Reduces inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack the lining of the joints. This causes cartilage breakdown and can occur at any age. There is a form called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that affects children. Initially, there is morning stiffness that lasts for weeks or months, usually lasting more than an hour at a time and sometimes all day. Many patients have associated digestive problems and may feel tired and unwell in general.

Studies show that 60% of people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis have tried supplements or alternative therapies to treat their symptoms. It is one of those therapies. See Arthritis, Natural Pain Relief for other options.

A 2010 study showed that krill oil could reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, while another 2010 study in BMC Musculoskeletal showed that krill oil may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis in the first place.


Osteoarthritis usually results from general “wear and tear” of the joints. It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage (which acts as a cushion covering bones). Early signs of osteoarthritis may begin when a person is about 40 years old and get worse as they age. Almost everyone aged 60 and over has osteoarthritis.

Arthritis symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint deformities
  • Loss of joint function

A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that 300 mg of krill oil “significantly suppressed inflammation and reduced arthritis symptoms over short treatment periods of 7 and 14 days.” A 2016 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of patients with mild knee pain showed that taking 2,000 mg of krill oil daily reduced pain.

side effect

Many doctors warn patients taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), against taking krill oil because of a perceived increased risk of bleeding. However, these concerns appear to be unfounded. A study in Nutrients showed that krill oil did not lead to an increased risk of bleeding in patients taking blood thinners. Pregnant women should consult their doctor before taking any supplements.

Suggested Usage

The usual dose of krill oil is 500mg to 2,000mg per day. Some manufacturers combine krill oil with astaxanthin to provide additional anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.


It has so many health benefits that many people use it as an alternative to omega-3 fish oil . Krill oil appears to be more potent and equivalent to higher doses of omega-3 fish oil. It is often used to lower C-reactive protein inflammation or as an alternative to cholesterol and triglyceride lowering medications. It is also commonly used to help reduce arthritis-related pain and to help treat dry eyes and skin. If you are taking blood thinners, consult your doctor before adding krill oil as a supplement to your diet. Finally, supplements should never replace a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.


  1. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2017 Aug 15. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201700098. [Epub ahead of print]- Krill oil can help prevent atherosclerosis
  2. Jayathilake AG, Senior PV, Su XQ. Krill oil extract suppresses cell growth and induces apoptosis of human colorectal cancer cells. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2016;16(1):328. doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1311-x.
  3. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Feb;26(1):39-48.
  4. Cicero AFG, Rosticci M, Morbini M, et al. Lipid-lowering and anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 ethyl esters and krill oil: a randomized, cross-over, clinical trial. Archives of Medical Science : AMS. 2016;12(3):507-512. doi:10.5114/aoms.2016.59923.

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