Krill oil has many health benefits.  Photo: AP
Krill oil has many health benefits. Photo: AP

Krill is new kid on block

FOR years the health and wellness industry has been banging on about the health benefits of fish oil - that was last week's story.

In this industry things move along pretty quickly and now there's a new kid on the block!

Krill oil.

In more recent years there has been new focus on these tiny little creatures, which on appearance could be confused for a small prawn.

Krill only grow to about five centimetres and live in the southern oceans feeding on the plankton and zooplankton, which gives krill their nutrients.

Krill are fundamental to the survival of almost all marine animals in the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic waters.

Like fish oil, krill is harvested for its health benefits. Krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil but doesn't have the common side effects of fishy burps or the aftertaste that some fish oil do.

The Journal of American College of Nutrition published a study showing a daily dose of 300mg of krill oil reduced arthritis symptoms and inflammation.

While krill oil does contain omega-3's it should be pointed out that the EPA/DHA content of krill oil is not as high as it is for concentrated fish oils. Krill does, however, contain additional health benefits.

Other studies have shown krill oil to be beneficial in the treatment of cholesterol. It has been shown that krill oil can reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the good cholesterol (HDL).

A comparative study at the McGill University showed a daily dose between 1-3grams of krill oil was significantly more effective in the treatment of high cholesterol than the same daily dose of fish oil.

Krill oil is also more beneficial in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease due to its molecular composition being more diverse in active ingredients.

Some early studies have also indicated krill oil can be of benefit to reduce premenstrual symptoms however more research needs to be done in this area. Krill oil is also becoming increasingly popular for its antioxidant benefits. The algae the krill eat produce astaxanthin, an antioxidant that gives krill its reddish colour.

As we all know antioxidants help protect our cells from free radical damage, which is thought to lead to chronic diseases.

An added benefit of astaxanthin is that it is thought to be one of the only antioxidants to cross the blood brain barrier therefore possibly providing additional protection against free radical damage to the eyes, brain and the central nervous system.

Currently there is also early research that shows the benefit of krill oil in ADD and ADHD.

As with any supplement you begin taking, you should always first speak to your health professional for advice before taking the product.

This is important to ensure there could be no interactions with your current regime with the new supplements you want to start taking.

Krill oil should be no exception to this rule.

There are a number of known drug interactions with krill oil - just to name a few such as aspirin, warfarin, and anti-inflammatory medications.

If you are allergic to seafood or have a bleeding disorder, then you should totally avoid krill oil. Krill oil has many health benefits, but please seek professional advice before commencing anything new.

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