While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
- Krill is a spineless, shrimp-like marine organism. The oil produced from krill, in particular from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), is rich in various compounds, including long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which likely contribute to krill oil’s beneficial health effects.
- An estimated 14% of krill oil is comprised of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are both omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a class of compounds believed to have beneficial blood lipid- and blood pressure-lowering effects. Krill oil is also believed to contain astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is an antioxidant with purported neuroprotective effects.
- Early research suggests that krill oil may be useful in the treatment of arthritis, high blood lipids, dental plaque, and painful menstruation. However, further research in these areas is needed before any firm conclusions may be made for its use.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Results are pending on preliminary research exploring the effects of krill oil in people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Until more research becomes available, firm conclusions about the use of krill oil in this area are lacking.
|C||Arthritis (chronic inflammation)
Limited research suggests that krill oil may lower arthritis pain and markers of inflammation. However, more large-scale, high-quality research is needed in this area.
According to early research, Krillase® chewing gum has been shown to reduce dental plaque and inflammation-related gum bleeding. Additional research in this area is needed before any firm conclusions may be made.
|C||Lipid lowering effects
Limited research suggests that, compared to fish oil, krill oil reduces the level of various blood lipids, including total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Although this is promising, further research in this area is needed before any firm conclusions may be made.
Limited research suggests that krill oil may mitigate both physical and emotional symptoms of painful menstruation. However, more large-scale, high-quality research is needed in this area.
*Key to grades:
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Abnormal heart rhythms, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), age-related macular degeneration (deteriorating central retina cells), aggressive behavior, aging, agoraphobia (situational anxiety), AIDS, allergies, anthracycline-induced cardiac toxicity (heart damage from anthracycline use), antioxidant, antiphospholipid syndrome (increased blood clotting tendency), appetite suppressant, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autoimmune disorders (nephritis), bacterial infections, blood thinner, bone diseases, breast pain, breast cancer, breast cysts, breast tenderness, cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome (compressed hand or wrist nerves), chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic obstructive lung disease (lung disease from narrowed airways), circulatory disorders, cirrhosis (chronic liver disease), cognitive function, common cold, concentration enhancement, congestive heart failure, critical illness, dementia, depression, dermatomyositis (skin and tissue inflammation), diabetes, diabetic nephropathy (diabetes-related kidney disease), diabetic neuropathy (diabetes-related nerve damage), digestive disorders, dry eyes, dyslexia (disordered reading ability), dyspraxia (disordered motor coordination), ear infection, energy, exercise performance enhancement, fatigue, fibromyalgia (chronic muscle pain and weakness), gallstones, gingivitis (inflamed gums), glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye), gout, H. pylori infection, hay fever, headache, hearing loss (age-related), heart attack, heart disease, hepatorenal syndrome (combined kidney impairment and liver disease), high blood pressure, hormonal disorders, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels), hypoxia (lack of oxygen), ichthyosis (dry and scaly skin), immune disorders (Behçet’s syndrome), immune suppression, inflammation, joint pain, joint problems (cartilage destruction), kidney disease prevention, kidney inflammation, kidney problems, kidney stones, leprosy, leukemia (blood cell cancer), malaria, male infertility, memory enhancement, memory loss, menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, metabolic disorders (glycogen storage diseases), methotrexate toxicity, mood, multiple sclerosis (loss of nerve insulation and function), myopathy (muscle disease), neurologic disorders (Refsum’s syndrome), neuropathy (nerve damage), neuroprotection (nerve protection), night vision enhancement, nutrition supplementation (omega-3 fatty acid), osteoarthritis (cartilage loss), osteoporosis (bone loss), panic disorder, paranoid personality disorder, peripheral vascular disease (non-heart-associated blood vessel disease), postpartum depression (maternal depression after childbirth), postviral/chronic fatigue syndrome, pregnancy nutritional supplement, premature birth prevention, premenstrual syndrome, prostate cancer prevention, protection from isotretinoin drug toxicity, Raynaud’s phenomenon (lowered circulation causing discolored extremities), Reye’s syndrome (liver and brain swelling), rheumatoid arthritis (chronic joint inflammation), seizure disorder, skin cancer, stress, stroke, sunburn prevention, systemic lupus erythematosus (connective tissue inflammation), tardive dyskinesia (involuntary body movements), tennis elbow (elbow tendon inflammation), urinary stones, vision enhancement, vision problems (age-related), weight loss, well-being, wound healing.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
- Krill oil is distributed by Neptune Technologies & Bioressources, Inc. Each 500-milligram capsule of Neptune Krill Oil™ contains 50 international units (IU) of vitamin A, 0.25 IU of vitamin E, 150 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, 75 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 45 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), 10 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids, 42.5 milligrams of omega-9 fatty acids, 200 milligrams of phospholipids, and 0.75 milligrams of astaxanthin.
- For arthritis, 300 milligrams of Neptune Krill Oil™ has been taken daily for 30 days.
- For dental plaque or gingivitis, 0.06 units of Krillase® gum has been chewed by mouth for 10 minutes after meals, four times daily for 10 days.
- For high blood lipids, 1-3 grams of Neptune Krill Oil™ has been taken daily for up to three months. Six capsules (500 milligram capsules each) of krill oil has also been taken daily for seven weeks.
- For painful menstruation, two grams of Neptune Krill Oil™ has been taken daily for up to three months.
Children (under 18 years old)
- There is no proven safe or effective dose for krill oil in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
- Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to seafood or shellfish.
- Antarctic krill has been shown to contain tropomyosins. Tropomyosins are compounds known to induce a major allergic reaction upon binding with shrimp-related immune molecules.
Side Effects and Warnings
- Neptune Krill Oil™ (Neptune Technologies & Bioressources Inc.) is likely safe when taken in recommended doses for up to three months.
- Side effects of krill may include bad breath, bloating, diarrhea, “fishy” tasting burps, flatulence, general itchiness, hand swelling, or oily facial skin.
- Krill may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
- Krill oil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
- Krill oil may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking agents that lower blood pressure.
- Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to seafood or shellfish.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of krill during pregnancy or lactation.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
- Krill oil may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
- Krill oil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
- Krill may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood pressure.
- Krill may also interact with agents that affect the heart and blood vessels, agents toxic to the liver, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatory agents, bone loss agents, hormonal agents, kidney-protective agents, lipid-lowering agents, nervous system agents, and pain relievers.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
- Krill oil may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
- Krill oil may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
- Krill oil may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
- Krill may also interact with herbs and supplements that affect the heart and blood vessels, anticancer herbs and supplements, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, bone loss herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements toxic to the liver, hormonal herbs and supplements, kidney-protective herbs and supplements, lipid-lowering agents, nervous system herbs and supplements, pain relievers, and vitamin A.
- This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Banni S, Carta G, Murru E, et al. Krill oil significantly decreases 2-arachidonoylglycerol plasma levels in obese subjects. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2011;8(1):7. View Abstract
- Bridges KM, Gigliotti JC, Altman S, et al. Determination of digestibility, tissue deposition, and metabolism of the omega-3 fatty acid content of krill protein concentrate in growing rats. J Agric.Food Chem 2010;58(5):2830-2837. View Abstract
- Bunea R, El Farrah K, Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia. Altern Med Rev 2004;9(4):420-428. View Abstract
- Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr 2007;26(1):39-48. View Abstract
- Gigliotti JC, Smith AL, Jaczynski J, et al. Consumption of krill protein concentrate prevents early renal injury and nephrocalcinosis in female sprague-dawley rats. Urol Res 2011;39(1):59-67. View Abstract
- Lee B, Sur BJ, Han JJ, et al. Krill phosphatidylserine improves learning and memory in Morris water maze in aged rats. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2010;34(6):1085-1093. View Abstract
- Maki KC, Reeves MS, Farmer M, et al. Krill oil supplementation increases plasma concentrations of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in overweight and obese men and women. Nutr Res 2009;29(9):609-615. View Abstract
- Hellgren K. Assessment of Krillase chewing gum for the reduction of gingivitis and dental plaque. J Clin Dent 2009;20(3):99-102. View Abstract
- Ierna M, Kerr A, Scales H, et al. Supplementation of diet with krill oil protects against experimental rheumatoid arthritis. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2010;11:136. View Abstract
- Sampalis F, Bunea R, Pelland MF, et al. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea. Altern Med Rev 2003;8(2):171-179. View Abstract
- Schuchardt JP, Schneider I, Meyer H, et al. Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations-a comparative bioavailability study of fish oil vs. krill oil. Lipids Health Dis 2011;10:145. View Abstract
- Tandy S, Chung RW, Wat E, et al. Dietary krill oil supplementation reduces hepatic steatosis, glycemia, and hypercholesterolemia in high-fat-fed mice. J Agric Food Chem 2009;57(19):9339-9345. View Abstract
- Tou JC, Jaczynski J, Chen YC. Krill for human consumption: nutritional value and potential health benefits. Nutr Rev 2007;65(2):63-77. View Abstract
- Ulven SM, Kirkhus B, Lamglait A, et al. Metabolic effects of krill oil are essentially similar to those of fish oil but at lower dose of EPA and DHA, in healthy volunteers. Lipids 2011;46(1):37-46. View Abstract
- Zhu JJ, Shi JH, Qian WB, et al. Effects of krill oil on serum lipids of hyperlipidemic rats and human SW480 cells. Lipids Health Dis 2008;7:30. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.