Krill, the tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that a multitude of sea animals feed on, is also a great source of oil. Krill oil is harvested by crushing krill, in much the same way as olive oil and peanut oil. The oil is harvested for its high protein content and omega-3 fatty acids. Krill oil has many natural health benefits. But there are also dangers and side effects, so it should be taken with caution.
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Despite its great health benefits, there are also side effects to taking krill oil supplements. Because krill oil is high in fatty acids, loose stools and diarrhoea are expected side effects. Some people have also experienced indigestion from krill oil supplements.
Because krill are a species of shellfish, anyone with a shellfish or other fish allergy may be allergic to krill oil. If you're allergic to shellfish or fish and you take a krill oil supplement, you are likely to experience a moderate to severe allergic reaction. The symptoms of an allergic reaction are: hives; swelling of the face, neck, tongue, lips, or inside the throat; severe abdominal pain; indigestion or diarrhoea; trouble breathing; lightheadedness or fainting; and a tickling in the mouth.
Even if you believe that your shellfish allergy is mild, continued contact with the allergy trigger can cause it to get worse. More than 100 people per year die from anaphylaxis caused by ingesting foods to which they were allergic.
Unlike its fish oil cousin, krill oil hasn't been on the market long enough for its health benefit claims to be proven beyond a doubt. There just have not been enough scientific studies on the oil for there to be any conclusions on whether krill oil is a good substitute for fish oil or flaxseed oil, which are both high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Krill oil has been shown to interfere with blood-thinning medications, so anyone with a blood condition cannot take krill oil without a risk of fatality.
Because of the lack of information available on krill oil as a supplement, it might be safer to discuss its use with your physician before you start taking it. Also, if you even suspect that you have a shellfish or fish allergy, do not take krill oil supplements, even if the reactions aren't severe.
Krill oil may be beneficial for some, but like any drug or dietary supplement, care must be taken in its use.
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