Krill oil is extracted from shrimp-like crustaceans inhabiting the North Pacific Ocean, as well as, the Antarctic Ocean. It is hunted along the coasts of Canada and Japan, and the oil extracted from the marine animal is sold as a health supplement on account of its high omega-3-fatty acid content.
The oil is available in the form of capsules and can be obtained from health stores and online resources. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant which is also found in the oil. This constituent is believed to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier unlike the other antioxidants making it beneficial for protecting the eye, central nervous system, and brain.
It is a new addition to the health supplement market, but has gained in popularity rapidly. It is not associated with a fish-like smell or side effects like belching that are a common problem with fish oil. The benefits of the oil are not evident immediately and the supplement is believed to produce the desired results only after prolonged use. People with seafood allergies are advised not to consume the supplement.
Neptune Technologies, a Canadian company, has obtained the patent for extracting the oil from krills. The oil is directly inserted into the capsules and sold as supplements. The shell cap is prepared from vegetarian sources and the product is promoted as a vegetarian one. It is used to reduce the risks of cancer and arthritis, as well as, provide relief in PMS and menstrual cramps. There are no specific dosages for the oil, which may vary from 100 mg to 300 mg per day.
The oil extracted from the Antarctic krills has obtained a ‘generally recognized as safe’ or GRAS certificate and can be purchased in America despite not being endorsed by the FDA. It has been approved as a safe product in Europe by the “European Food Safety Authority”.
Krill Oil Benefits
There are numerous health benefits that can be derived by regular usage of krill oil supplements. However, there is a lack of clinical evidence and the Western practitioners of medicine do not prescribe it. The supplements are recommended by alternative medicine and are believed to have the following effects on the human body:
- Lowering Cholesterol- The oil is thought to be more effective than the fish oil in controlling blood cholesterol levels. It was also found to have a positive effect in lowering the blood-glucose level.
- Easing PMS- It has proved to be beneficial in reducing mood swings and other behavioral changes that occur prior to menstruation.Painful cramps associated with the condition can also be relieved by regular intake of krill oil.
- Relieving Inflammation- The anti-inflammatory effects of the oil supplements are particularly beneficial for patients with joint diseases. The pain, as well as, the inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatism, have been found to be reduced considerably on regular usage of the oil.
- Protection against UV- The astaxanthin content present in the oil also helps to protect the body from the harmful ultra violet rays of the sun, thus lowering the risk of skin problems.
Krill Oil Side Effects
The supplement is not considered to have any toxic effect on the body as the crustaceans have been consumed by the Japanese since the ancient times. However, there have been certain side-effects associated with the oil which can tamper with the normal functioning of the body. The most commonly observed side effects are:-
- Blood Clotting- The oil contains EPA and DHA, two of the fatty acids which are known as blood thinners. They reduce the blood coagulation properties of the platelets and can pose a risk for people with bleeding problems. Cuts and wounds also take a longer time to heal on regular intake of krill oil.
- Drug Interactions- The oil supplements are contraindicated with analgesics like aspirin and ibuprofen. Liver functions can be affected on taking the oil and heparin together, while the blood thinning functions of warfarin are enhanced greatly if taken in conjunction with the oil. Other drugs that are contraindicated with the supplement include diclofenac, naproxen, enoxaparin and dealteparin.
- Allergies- Individuals with seafood or crustacean allergies are advised not to include the supplement in their diet as the oil can produce mild to severe allergic symptoms in sensitive patients.
- Digestion- Although the fast absorbing characteristic of the oil prevents belching, it has been associated with heartburn, bloating and flatulence on initial use.
The Japanese obtain krill oil in the form of the whole crustacean known as 'okiami' meaning, 'whale food'.