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Krill Oil's Immune Benefits

A new krill oil study suggests that supplementation may strengthen immune function of healthy exercising adults. For this study, researchers recruited 37 healthy men and women with an average age of just under 26 y/o, who were then randomly assigned to either the placebo or experimental group (2 g/day of krill oil) for 6 weeks. All of the participants performed a simulated cycling time trial before and after the six week intervention period.

The results showed that the krill oil supplementation produced 75% and 21% increases in EPA and DHA levels of red blood cells, respectively, while the Omega-3 Index increased by 27%. These increases also coincided with decreases in arachidonic and docosatetraenoic acid of 7% and 17%, respectively. Further, the activity of NK (natural killer) cells in the recovery period after exercise was also observed for the krill oil group.

"NK cells are the first line of defense, reacting quickly to threats such as bacteria and viruses to keep them under control until the antigen-specific immune system responds," explained study coordinator. "Their activity can be decreased by up to 60% for several hours after extended exercise. Krill oil might therefore help to increase host protection after intense exercise."

No effects were observed for time trial performance, nor did the researchers observed any effects on heart rate or oxygen consumption. It also remains to be established whether these alterations in immune function can ultimately reduce the burden of upper respiratory tract infections (which are elevated in those with high training loads).
 The results of this study is in line with previous work on fish oil (where similar results were observed); however, the krill oil EPA and DHA dose used was only a quarter of the dose given in the earlier fish oil study to the same group.

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Source: The Effect of Krill Oil Supplementation on Exercise Performance and Markers of Immune Function

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