Krill are small crustaceans, much like shrimp, which grow to be from one to six centimeters long. They live along the oceans floor, and feed mostly on phytoplankton. Eaten by a large variety of animals such as whales, seals, penguins, squid, and fish or all types, these creatures are pretty much on the bottom of the food chain.
Most commercial type krill fishing is done in the southern portions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean, as well as the northern part of Pacific Ocean, on the coasts of Japan and Canada. The fisherman catch these animals to use them in aquaculture and aquarium feeds, for sport fishing, or for food. If krill is used for food in Japan it is called okiami.
The oil that is naturally found in these creatures is extracted and sold as a nutritional supplement. The reason for this is due to the fact that it is very high in omega 3 fatty acids. It also contains an antioxidant which is called astaxanthin. The algae which is eaten by krill produces the bright red pigment, astaxanthin which makes krill, shrimp, lobster and other crustaceans their pinkish color.
These antioxidants help to protect the cells in our body from something called ‘free radicals’. Free radicals are unstable substances which many believe contributes to several different chronic diseases. Astaxanthin crosses the blood to brain barrier, which makes most researchers believe that it can protect the eyes, brain, and central nervous system from the damage caused by free radicals. Other antioxidants do not cross this barrier.
People ingest krill oil for the same uses that they would ingest flax oils, fish oils, or other omega 3 fatty acids. Fish oil can sometimes cause a fishy burp or aftertaste, which is a known after effect if fish oil. Krill oil also has a larger amount of astaxanthin than fish oils do. Its used for several different health reasons which include:
As far as side effects are concerned, there are actually very few. Of course, those with allergies to seafood should not ingest these oil. People who have bleeding disorder are advised to speak with a doctor and be supervised by a qualified health professional before using krill oil. It is not recommended to use it with blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin, heparin, clopidogrel, or NSAIDS such as ibuprofen, or naproxen should not use krill oil without checking with their doctors. The same goes for gingko biloba and garlic. Side effects may include looser stools and indigestion.