Joint : Krill Oil Eases Inflammation and Arthritis

Abstracted June 18, 2012 by Marcia J. Egles, MD from Evaluation of the Effect of Neptune Krill Oil on Chronic Inflammation and Arthritic Symptoms by Luisa Deutsch, MD, MSC in Journal of the American College of Nutrition,Vol. 26, No. 1,39-48 (2007). (1)
Krill oil, a dietary supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has been reported to improve symptoms of arthritis in a small Canadian clinical trial. The study also reported a significant reduction in CRP (C-reactive protein), a clinical blood test which measures inflammation, in participants who took krill oil supplements during the one month trial.
Neptune krill oil is an oil extracted from Antarctic krill. The extraction is accomplished through a cold vacuum procedure which avoids the use of heat, light or oxygen which might be damaging to the oil. Neptune krill oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids with an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 15 to one. The oil contains 17 per cent EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and 10 per cent DHA (docosahexanoic acid). It also contains the anti-oxidant astaxanthin (1). Both astaxanthin (2,3) and omega-3 fatty acids (4) in the diet may be beneficial in reducing inflammation .
The month long study recruited 47 men and 43 women, age 30 to 75, with an average age of 55, from primary care clinics in Ontario, Canada. Eligibility for the study required a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease or rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Additionally, the participants had to have stable CRP levels greater than 1.0mg per deciliter in the blood (normal is less than 1.0mg/dl) for 3 weeks prior to the study. They agreed to consume no alcohol, no dietary supplements, no anti-inflammatory medicines and no pain medications, except for Tylenol
(acetaminophen)as a “rescue” pain medicine, for the study period and one week prior.
Treatment or placebo designations were assigned in a randomized, double–blind fashion. Group A received a daily oral dose of a 300 milligram Neptune Krill Oil gelcap. Group B, the placebo group, consumed a similarly appearing, neutral soft gelatin capsule each day.
The study included patients with cardiac disease with or without arthritis, as well as patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and no cardiac disease. The largest population was those with osteoarthritis without known cardiac disease, with 18 participants in the krill oil treatment group and 16 in the placebo group.
After 7 days, CRP was reduced by 19.3% in the krill oil treatment group compared to an increase of 15.7% in the placebo group ( p=0.049). The increase in the placebo group was thought to be because the patients had been required to forgo their usual anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen. After 14 and 30 days the treatment group had continued improvement in CRP levels with decreases of 29.7 %and 30.9% (p less than 0.001) from baseline respectively. The placebo group’s CRP climbed to 32.1% above baseline at day 14, then leveled back to 25.1% above baseline at day 30.
The study also assessed the effects of krill oil on the patients’ arthritic symptoms. At baseline and at each of three follow-up visits, patients with arthritis were asked to complete the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) arthritic pain assessment questionnaire.
The WOMAC separately assesses pain, stiffness and loss of joint function, with brief “on a scale of 0 to 4” type questions. The krill oil group showed significant reduction in all three WOMAC parameters. After 7 days of krill oil treatment, pain scores were reduced 28.9%, stiffness by 20.3% and functional impairment by 22.8% as compared to the scores of the placebo group.
No significant side effects of krill oil were reported by the study.
The study proffered Neptune krill oil as an effective reducer of inflammation and as a potential alleviator of arthritic symptoms. The study did not comment as to how Neptune Krill Oil might compare to other marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oils which lack astaxanthin.
Marcia Egles, MD, graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1986. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine atSt. LouisUniversityHospital. Dr. Egles is certified in Internal Medicine and is a member of the AmericanCollege of Physicians. She resides in Avon, IN with her husband and two sons.
1. Deutsch, Luisa Evaluation of the Effect of Neptune Krill Oil on Chronic Inflammation and Arthritic Symptoms Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 26, No. 1,39-488 (2007).
2. Jean Soon Park et al. Astaxanthin decreased oxidative stress and inflammation and enhanced immune response in humans. Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:18 .
3. Choi HD. Positive Effects of Astaxanthin on Lipid Profiles and Oxidative Stress in Overweight Subjects. Plant Foods Hum Nutr (2011) 66:363–369. DOI 10.1007/s11130-011-0258-9.
4. Musa-Veloso K, et al. Impact of low vs moderate intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids on risk of coronary heart disease. 2011. Br J Nutr. Doi:10.1017/S0007114511001644
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