Krill Oil Health Benefits, Controversy
Krill oil, the omega-3 rich substance that is derived from shrimp-like crustaceans that populate the oceans, is a popular nutritional supplement because of its numerous health benefits. But the oil is also the source of some controversy, most recently brought to light by Whole Foods.
Krill Oil Health Advantages
Krill oil, like fish oil, contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two omega-3 fatty acids that have been the subject of scores of research studies. Both DHA and EPA have been shown to reduce triglyceride levels, reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, improve bone strength, reduce blood pressure, ease symptoms of PMS, relieve depressive symptoms, lower the risk of stroke, heart disease, and atherosclerosis, and inhibit the growth of colon cancer.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 90 people who had arthritis and/or cardiovascular disease, researchers discovered that study participants who took 300 mg of krill oil for one to two weeks had significantly less inflammation and improved symptoms of arthritis. In another study, 1,000 to 1,500 mg of krill oil daily significantly lowered cholesterol, triglyceride, and other lipid levels.
Women with PMS and dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) experienced relief when taking krill oil as part of a University of Montreal double-blind, randomized study. After three months’ treatment using either krill oil or fish oil, the women who had been taking krill oil said they needed to take significantly fewer pain killers than women who took fish oil, and they also reported significantly better emotional symptoms when compared with women in the fish oil group.
An advantage of krill oil supplements over fish oils is that because krill are at the bottom of the food chain, they do not accumulate and concentrate mercury like fish do. There have been concerns about the presence of mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants in fish oils. Krill oil also has a different structure than fish oils, which makes it more easily absorbed by the body.