Krill are tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Where do I find red krill oil?
Krill live in sea ice, mostly in the Antarctic and North Pacific Oceans where they are consumed in vast amount by whales (hence 'krill' means 'whale food' in Norwegian). Unfortunately climate change poses a threat to the krill population.
The krill gets its red-pink colour from the algae that it eats.
Red krill oil is available in capsule form.
Why do I need red krill oil?
Krill is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (similar to those in fish oil) and phospholipid-derived fatty acids (PLFA). Our bodies appear better able to absorb krill oil than many other fish oils and, unlike some other fish oils, it doesn’t leaving a nasty fishy taste in the mouth. Another advantage of red krill oil is that is has a longer shelf-life than other fish oils but on the downside it tends to be more expensive to buy.
Krill oil has been less well explored than other fish oils but results from early studies suggest that it may have many health benefits. In a recent Canadian study, a daily dose of krill oil of between one to three grams a day was found to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and boost HDL (good) cholesterol.
Like cod liver oil, krill oil helps prevent our blood from clotting too easily and may be beneficial in supporting good heart health, lowering blood pressure and reducing stroke risk.
Researchers also believe krill oil may alleviate the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and reduce arthritic inflammation and pain.
Can red krill oil ever be harmful?
It's too early to say if krill oil is harmful if consumed in large quantities but any side-effects are likely to be similar to other fish oils - for example nausea and heartburn.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take krill oil as too little is known about the impact, likewise people scheduled for surgery may want to avoid krill two weeks prior to their operation in case it increases their risk of bleeding due to its blood-thinning properties.
If you are already on blood-thinning medication you may want to consult your doctor for advice if considering krill oil supplements.
People with a seafood allergy may want to avoid krill oil, although there is scant evidence on the link between krill oil supplements and allergies.
More research is needed to establish both the benefits and any side-effects of taking red krill oil.