What are Krill Oil Supplements?

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  • Written By: C. K. Lanz
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2019
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Krill oil supplements are nutritional supplements that contain oil extracted from a species of Antarctic krill commonly found in the Southern Ocean and known as Euphausia superba. This krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, marine lecithin and the antioxidant astaxanthin. Krill oil supplements are typically used as an alternative or natural remedy for various health problems including high cholesterol, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome and arthritis among others.

Antarctic krill are small invertebrates that are similar to shrimp in appearance, live in large swarms and feed on phytoplankton. Many larger aquatic fish and animals including seals, penguins, squid and whales consume large quantities of krill. Antarctic krill are usually fished in the Southern Ocean.

Oil extracted from Antarctic krill is sold as a dietary supplement in capsule form. The high level of omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil supplements has made the remedy popular. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that the body needs but cannot make for itself. These fatty acids are known to ease inflammation and lower the risk of cancer, arthritis and heart disease.


The antioxidant astaxanthin found in krill oil supplements is both a nutritional supplement as well as a natural food dye due to its red color. Antioxidants help protect the human body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals or substances that may be connected to some chronic conditions. In addition, astaxanthin may also help shield the central nervous system, brain and eyes from free radical overexposure. Astaxanthin can also provide relief from the symptoms of certain cardiovascular, inflammatory, immune and neurodegenerative illnesses and is believed to work as an anti cancer agent in the body.

Arthritis, high cholesterol and premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea are all conditions that are thought to be treatable with krill oil supplements. Compared to a placebo, krill oil supplements have been found to be an effective way to reduce the severity of arthritis inflammation and cholesterol levels. Research also suggests that krill oil can ease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea.

Fish oil supplements also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids but may cause stomach upset, a fishy aftertaste and belching. Krill oil supplements are not known to trigger any of these side effects and contain more astaxanthin that fish oil. Krill oil supplements may cause diarrhea or loose stools. People who are allergic to fish or seafood, who suffer from a bleeding disorder or who are taking blood thinners, garlic or ginko biloba supplements should not consume krill oil supplements without prior consent from a medical professional.


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