Here’s One Fatty Acid Your Joints Will Love
Omega-3 fatty acids are a well-known natural anti-inflammatory. Most people recognize common omega-3s such as fish oil, olive oil and flax. But there is another form of omega-3s that has been growing in popularity — krill oil.
Krill oil is derived from tiny crustaceans called Antarctic krill. This marine oil is not only a rich source of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, but also phospholipids and antioxidants like vitamins A and E and astaxanthin. These last three nutrients give krill oil a major antioxidant edge over other fish oils.
Because of krill oil’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity, researchers have been studying its effects on inflammatory conditions like cardiovascular disease and arthritis, and the results have been extremely promising.
Chronic inflammation is thought to be one of the biggest predictors of many major diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis. While acute inflammation is obvious and even beneficial and healing — like the swelling that occurs immediately after an injury or surgery — chronic inflammation is dangerous and less obvious, and can really only be detected through testing.
One of the most reliable and useful predictors of internal inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP). It’s a good bet that when levels of this protein are elevated, you have inflammation in the body that could be affecting your arteries, joints, brain or other parts of your body.
Knowing this, researchers in Canada sought to find out what effect krill oil had on patients with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions who also had elevated CRP levels.
Krill Oil as a Natural Arthritis Treatment
The two main types of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — affect an estimated 28 million people in the United States alone.
Currently, most patients with arthritis use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like over-the-counter ibuprofen or prescription Celebrex to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. But these medications have potentially serious side effects that make them less than desirable, especially for long-term use. But what if a natural anti-inflammatory like krill oil could be used to reduce inflammation and relieve arthritis symptoms without harsh side effects?
In their randomized, double-blind trial, researchers followed 87 patients who were randomly split and assigned to one of two groups: Group A (44 patients) received Krill Oil at a daily dose of 300 mg; and Group B (43 patients) received a placebo.
At baseline, as well as at three follow-ups, patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis completed arthritic assessment questionnaires that contained 24 questions focusing on arthritic joint pain, stiffness, and loss of function in their knees and hips.
At the end of the 30-day study, results in favor of Krill Oil were quite incredible. Patients taking krill oil reduced their use of NSAID rescue medications (primarily acetaminophen, or Tylenol) for pain relief by 31.6 percent, compared to the placebo group, which reduced acetaminophen intake by a mere 5.9 percent.
And after just seven days of treatment with krill oil, the treatment group reduced their mean CRP by 19.3 percent, compared to an increase of 15.7 percent observed in the placebo group. Furthermore, the krill oil group showed significantly reduced pain, stiffness and functional impairment compared to the placebo group in all three follow-up visits.
The best news? No adverse events were reported during the entire treatment period with Krill Oil.
Researchers concluded that within 7 to 14 days, 300 mg a day of Krill Oil can “significantly inhibit inflammation by reducing CRP as well as significantly alleviate symptoms caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.”
Similar results were witnessed in an earlier study using krill oil for rheumatoid arthritis.
Go Crazy for Krill
As this study has pointed out, if you have arthritis, taking a krill oil supplement could have a profound effect on your inflammation and pain levels. You should also consider using krill oil if you have any inflammatory condition like cardiovascular disease, or if you are have a family history of diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s.
While krill oil is superior to other fish oils in many ways, if you are allergic to shellfish, you should avoid krill and take regular fish oil or a vegetarian form of omega-3s like flax.
 Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effect of Neptune Krill Oil on chronic inflammation and arthritic symptoms. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Feb;26(1)39–48.
 Ierna M et al. Supplementation of diet with krill oil protects against experimental rheumatoid arthritis. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010 Jun 29;11:136.
Larissa Long has worked in the health care communications field for more than 13 years. She co-authored a self-care book titled Taking Care, has written countless tip sheets and e-letters on health topics, and contributed several articles to Natural Solutions magazine. She also served as managing editor of three alternative health and lifestyle newsletters — Dr. Susan Lark’s Women’s Wellness Today, Dr. David Williams’ Alternatives, and Janet Luhrs’ Simple Living.