A few days ago I posted on a fish oil/krill oil/curcumin regimen that I’ve been using to treat joint and muscle soreness after golf. I had a number of comments wanting to know about krill oil and why I made it part of the treatment protocol. Your wish is my command.
Krill oil, logically enough, comes from krill, which are small, shrimp like crustaceans that inhabit the cold ocean areas of the world, primarily the Antarctic and North Pacific Oceans. Despite their small size–one to five centimeters in length–krill make up the largest animal biomass on the planet. According to Neptune Technologies, the Canadian company that holds the patent for krill oil extraction, there are approximately 500 million tons of krill roaming around in these northern seas, 110,000 tons of which are harvested annually.
A krill, in profile
Krill oil, like fish oil, contains both of the omega-3 fats eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA), but hooked together in a different form. In fish oil these omega-3 fatty acids are found in the triglyceride form whereas in krill oil they are hooked up in a double chain phospholipid structure. (The fats in our own cell walls are in the phospholipid form.) Attached to the EPA leg of the phospholipid is a molecule of astaxanthin, an extremely potent anti-oxidant. The phospholipid structure of the EPA and DHA in krill oil makes them much more absorbable and allows for a much easier entrance into the mitochondria and the cellular nucleus. In addition to EPA and DHA krill oil contains a complex phospholipid profile including phosphatidylcholine, a potent source of reductive-stress-reducing choline, which also acts as a natural emulsifier.
Krill oil contains vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin D and canthaxanthin, which is, like astaxanthin, a potent anti-oxidant. The anti-oxidant potency of krill oil is such that when compared to fish oil in tems of ORAC (Oxygen radical absorptance capacity) values it was found to be 48 times more potent than fish oil.
The astaxanthin found in krill oil provides excellent protection against ultravoilet light and UV-induced skin damage. It was for this reason that I started taking krill oil to begin with–I only discovered its other virtues later on.
A number of studies have shown that krill oil is tremendously effective in reducing LDL-cholesterol, raising HDL-cholesterol, and lowering blood sugar. It has been shown to be effective in treating the pain and inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis and aches and pains in general. One large study showed that krill oil has tremendous benefits in terms of symptom reduction in PMS and dysmenorrhea. And it has been shown to be effective in the treatment of adult ADHD. In all these studies krill oil was tested against fish oil and not simply a placebo.
Due to the rapid absorption of krill oil and the high anti-oxidant content there is virtually never the fishy burping and aftertaste sometimes experienced with fish oil. And there are no other side effects to speak of. The jury is out right now on if and to what degree there is a problem for those people allergic to shrimp. Until the jury is in, I would be careful in taking krill oil if I had a shrimp allergy.
Are there any downsides to this miracle substance? Only one. It is a little more pricey than fish oil, but, as with all things, you get what you pay for. Virtually all krill oil is produced by Neptune Technologies and shipped to the various supplement manufacturers, so any krill oil you get will have come from the same place and be the same dosage. The only unknown is how long it has been sitting around in a warehouse somewhere, which is, of course, the same unkown with fish oil. At least with krill oil, thanks to the high anti-oxidant content, the shelf life is much longer.
One last thing. I neglected to mention in my previous post that popping a couple of fish oil and krill oil caps don’t give the same immediate relief as popping a NSAID. It takes a while–a couple of weeks in my case–for the fish oil/krill oil to provide the same degree of pain relief as the NSAID. So, the take home message is: don’t take your first dose and compare it to the relief you got with a dose of NSAID. If you do, you will not believe the program works and will probably think me an idiot. It takes a while, so give it time. In the study I mentioned in the last post, the subjects took the fish oil for two weeks along with their NSAIDs, then tapered off the drugs and treated their pain with the fish oil alone.