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Researchers randomly selected 300 men and women with borderline-high (150 to 199 mg/dL) or high (200 to 499 mg/dL) triglycerides to receive no krill oil (placebo olive oil pill), or to receive 0.5, 1, 2, or 4 grams of krill oil per day. Fasting blood lipid levels— LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and triglycerides—were measured at the start of the study, and 6 and 12 weeks later.
Triglyceride levels can vary significantly, even within a single individual. For example, a person may have a fasting triglyceride level of 75 mg/dL on one test, and 130 mg/dL at another time. Both of these levels are considered normal—any number less than 150 is normal—but the values are quite different. For this reason, the researchers used a statistical method to consider all of the supplement groups together, and looked for a relationship between krill oil dose and triglyceride changes over time.
The study authors estimated that compared with the placebo group, people who received krill oil had a 10.2% reduction in fasting triglyceride blood levels over the 12-week study. LDL-cholesterol levels did not increase in the krill oil group compared with placebo, a reassuring result given that some studies have found supplementing omega-3 fats from fish oil increases LDL-cholesterol.
The study was double-blinded and placebo-controlled, the gold standard of research, but it wasn’t large enough, or of long enough duration, to conclude krill oil is effective for reducing high triglycerides. Dr. Ira Ockene, MD, cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School concurs, noting “At present, there is insufficient evidence to recommend [krill oil], especially to those who already have known atherosclerotic disease where fish oil has been shown to be of great benefit.”
If you want to try krill oil, discuss the pros and cons with your doctor, and do not add this supplement into your daily routine without medical supervision. In the meantime, there are plenty of other things that will nudge your triglyceride levels in the right direction, naturally:
(Nutr Res 2014;34:126–33)