Krill oil is an extract prepared from a species of Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba. Processed krill oil is commonly sold as a dietary supplement. Two components of krill oil are omega-3 fatty acids similar to those in fish oil, and phospholipid-derived fatty acids (PLFA), mainly phosphatidylcholine (alternatively referred to as marine lecithin).[1]

Safety and regulation

Although there may be toxic residues present in Antarctic krill and fish,[2][3] the United States Food and Drug Administration has accepted notices from krill oil manufacturers declaring that krill oil and supplement products derived from it meet the standards for Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status.[4][5]

Krill oil is listed among authorized European novel foods by meeting specification limits.[6]

Difference between krill oil and fish oil

Krill oil and oceanic fish oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, mainly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While both contain some EPA and DHA as free fatty acids, krill oil contains particularly rich amounts of choline-containing phospholipids and a phosphatidylcholine concentration of 34 grams per 100 grams of oil.[7][8]

Krill oil also contains appreciable content of astaxanthin at 0.1 to 1.5 mg/ml, depending on processing methods, which is responsible for its red color.[9]


  1. ^ "Krill oil. Monograph". Altern Med Rev. 15 (1): 84–6. 2010. PMID 20359272.
  2. ^ Corsolini S, Covaci A, Ademollo N, Focardi S, Schepens P (March 2006). "Occurrence of organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and their enantiomeric signatures, and concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Adélie penguin food web, Antarctica". Environmental Pollution. 140 (2): 371–82. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2005.04.039. PMID 16183185.
  3. ^ Covaci A, Voorspoels S, Vetter W, et al. (August 2007). "Anthropogenic and naturally occurring organobrominated compounds in fish oil dietary supplements". Environmental Science & Technology. 41 (15): 5237–44. Bibcode:2007EnST...41.5237C. doi:10.1021/es070239g. PMID 17822085.
  4. ^ CFSAN/Office of Food Additive Safety (July 22, 2011). "Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice No. GRN 000371". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  5. ^ CFSAN/Office of Food Additive Safety (January 3, 2008). "Agency Response Letter GRAS Notice No. GRN 000226". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2470 of 20 December 2017 establishing the Union list of novel foods in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods". Eur-Lex. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2021.
  7. ^ Grandois LG, Marchioni E, Zhao M, Giuffrida F, Ennahar S, Bindler F (June 2009). "Investigation of natural phosphatidylcholine sources: separation and identification by liquid chromatography - electronspray ionization - tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS2) of molecular species". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 57 (14): 6014–6020. doi:10.1021/jf900903e. PMID 19545117.
  8. ^ Winther B, Hoem N, Berge K, Reubsaet L (September 2010). "Elucidation of phosphatidylcholine composition in krill oil extracted from Euphausia Superba". Lipids. 46 (1): 25–36. doi:10.1007/s11745-010-3472-6. PMC 3024512. PMID 20848234.
  9. ^ Ali-Nehari, Abdelkader; Kim, Seon-Bong; Lee, Yang-Bong; Lee, Hye-youn; Chun, Byung-Soo (14 November 2011). "Characterization of oil including astaxanthin extracted from krill (Euphausia superba) using supercritical carbon dioxide and organic solvent as comparative method". Korean Journal of Chemical Engineering. 29 (3): 329–336. doi:10.1007/s11814-011-0186-2. S2CID 95331882.