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Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

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Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  jk120 on Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:41 pm

I was reading the top 6 list and had never heard of krill oil before, so I decided to find out what it is exactly. One of the top things about it seems to be that it contains astaxanthin.

I was wondering if this is the reason for taking it, why not just buy straight astaxanthin supplements? They are much cheaper than the krill oil supplements at most places.

If this is not the reason for buying krill oil instead, I was wondering what your thoughts are on taking just a plain astaxanthin supplement on its own?

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  CausticSymmetry on Sun Apr 11, 2010 6:48 pm

jk120 - Astaxanthin is a bonus and of course it goes much beyond protecting the lipids against peroxidation.

Krill oil is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The phospholipids escort the EPA/DHA fractions of Omega-3 straight into the cell. Krill oil taken at one gram per day is like taking 6 grams of fish oil.

Buy astaxanthin alone is not only unnecessary, but would miss the point of the omega-3, which is very important in the fight against MPB.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  j87x on Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:51 am

CausticSymmetry wrote:jk120 - Astaxanthin is a bonus and of course it goes much beyond protecting the lipids against peroxidation.

Krill oil is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The phospholipids escort the EPA/DHA fractions of Omega-3 straight into the cell. Krill oil taken at one gram per day is like taking 6 grams of fish oil.

Buy astaxanthin alone is not only unnecessary, but would miss the point of the omega-3, which is very important in the fight against MPB.

1 gram of krill oil compared to 6 grams of fish oil may be a stretch. From this study it doesn't look like the absorption is that much more significant.
http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Krill-oil-safe-well-tolerated-and-effective-says-study

wrote:Indeed, EPA and DHA levels rose by an average 178 and 90 micromoles per litre of plasma, respectively, in the krill oil group, compared to 132 and 150 micromoles per litre of plasma in the menhaden group
wrote:At the end of the treatment period, the mean plasma EPA concentration was somewhat higher in the krill oil group compared with the menhaden oil group (377 versus 293 micromoles per litre), whereas the mean plasma DHA concentrations were comparable (476 versus 478 micromoles per litre).

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  j87x on Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:08 am

Are the anti inflammatory effects in krill oil due to the astraxanthin or phosphilipids? Maybe fish oil + astraxanthin + lecethin as a cheaper alternative would work. While astraxanthin does protect against rancidity, I don't see why you can't just keep fish oil refrigerated.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  CausticSymmetry on Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:54 am

j87x - Krill oil is consistently superior to fish oil in studies. Fish oil is frequently molecularly distilled, which my denature the oil.

Krill oil penetrates the blood-brain-barrier, regular fish oil does not.

High dose fish oil may be adverse to blood sugar, krill oil is good for blood sugar.

Krill oil reduces triglycerides better than fish oil.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  Directo on Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:06 am

CausticSymmetry wrote:Krill oil penetrates the blood-brain-barrier, regular fish oil does not.

High dose fish oil may be adverse to blood sugar, krill oil is good for blood sugar.

Krill oil reduces triglycerides better than fish oil.
Do you have sources for these? Thanks.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  CausticSymmetry on Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:14 am

Neptune Krill Oil™ Part I: Omega-3s Join Forces with Phospholipids to Support Healthy Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels

Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most researched nutrients and are acclaimed for their heart-healthy properties. One of the best sources of omega-3s is an often overlooked, powerful source of these fatty acids known as Neptune Krill Oil™. Derived from Antarctic Krill, a shrimp-like creature inhabiting cold waters of the ocean, Neptune Krill Oil has demonstrated the ability to protect the heart, lower cholesterol, act as an anti-inflammatory, alleviate premenstrual syndrome, improve skin health, and increase well-being. In a three-part series, I will explore these effects of Neptune Krill Oil as well as explain its unique properties.

Phospholipids

The Antarctic krill is an especially hardy inhabitant of the ocean, able to withstand Earth's coldest waters. The Antarctic krill is a rich source of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. However, unlike fish oil, Neptune Krill Oil also contains an abundance of phospholipids that are linked to EPA and DHA. Phospholipids have earned the nickname "Life's Building Blocks" because they are integral to the manufacture of cell membranes. Phospholipids work synergistically with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants within the cell membrane to assist in a variety of processes essential to life. Much of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in Neptune Krill Oil are structurally intermingled with phospholipid molecules in the form of phospholipids. This mimics the way these nutrients occur naturally in cell membranes. By weight, Neptune Krill Oil is comprised of at least 30 percent EPA and DHA and 40 percent phospholipids, mostly in the form of phosphatidylcholine. The EPA and DHA in fish oil, on the other hand, are in the form of triglycerides.

Werner et al. demonstrated essential fatty acids in the form of phospholipids were superior to essential fatty acids in the form of triglycerides for significantly decreasing the saturated fatty acid ratios of liver triglycerides.1

Powerful Antioxidant

Neptune Krill Oil also contains high levels of an antioxidant carotenoid called astaxanthin.2 A red-orange pigment found in aquatic animals, astaxanthin is closely related to better-known carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein. Studies suggest that astaxanthin can be as or more effective as an antioxidant than vitamin E.3-4 Like other carotenoids, astaxanthin cannot be synthesized by animals and it therefore must be provided in the diet. Certain marine species, however, such as shrimp, have a limited capacity to convert closely related dietary carotenoids into astaxanthin. The presence of this antioxidant carotenoid in Neptune Krill Oil combines with other antioxidants in the oil (vitamins E and A and a bioflavonoid) to create a natural protection against oxidation of the oil—a property that doesn't exist in ordinary fish oil. This stops the fatty acids from becoming rancid, making the oil stable for a long time, as well as protecting the body against free radical attacks.
Astaxanthin is a highly efficient antioxidant that can quench free radicals known as singlet oxygen and hydroxyl radicals produced as by products of cellular energy production. Astaxanthin protects cell membrane phospholipids against the free radical damage known as peroxidation.4 In measuring the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Neptune Krill Oil, researchers found that NKO was 48 times more effective than fish oil and 34 times more effective than coenzyme Q10. ORAC is a measurement of a compound's ability to block free radicals.
Healthy Cholesterol Levels

One of Neptune Krill Oil's most promising actions is its dual ability to improve lipid levels. Research is emerging that Neptune Krill Oil may be even more effective at improving cholesterol than fish oil.
Recently, researchers undertook a 12-week, double-blind, randomized study to compare the effects of Neptune Krill Oil, high EPA/DHA fish oil and a placebo.5 Study participants included subjects 25 – 75 years old diagnosed for at least 6 months with mildly high to very high blood cholesterol (193.9-347.9 mg/dL) and triglycerides (203.8-354.4 mg/dL). The researchers divided the 120 subjects into four groups. The first group received 2 to 3 grams Neptune Krill Oil once per day, with the dosage determined by body weight. Another group received 1 to 1.5 grams of Neptune Krill Oil once per day, depending on body weight, during the study and then a maintenance dose of 500 mg per day for 90 days during follow up. A third group received 3 grams per day of fish oil containing 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA per gram. A fourth group received a placebo.

The study authors measured blood glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL – the "bad" cholesterol), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL the "good" cholesterol). Fasting blood lipids and glucose were measured at baseline and at 30 and 90 days after the study's start. For the group consuming the maintenance dose of Neptune Krill Oil, blood lipids and glucose were measured at 30, 90 and 180 days.
The results showed that Neptune Krill Oil had an impressive effect on cholesterol. After 12 weeks of treatment, patients receiving 1 or 1.5 grams Neptune Krill Oil per day experienced a 13.4-percent and 13.7-percent reduction in mean total cholesterol, from 236 mg/dL and 231 mg/dL to 204 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL, respectively. Subjects treated with 2 or 3 grams Neptune Krill Oil showed a significant reduction in mean total cholesterol of 18.1 and 18 percent respectively. Levels were reduced from a baseline of 247 mg/dL and 251 mg/dL to 203 mg/ dL and 206 mg/dL, respectively. In comparison, people receiving 3 grams of fish oil had a mean reduction in total cholesterol of 5.9 percent, from a baseline 231 mg/dL to 218 mg/dL. Placebo-treated subjects experienced a 9.1-percent increase in mean total cholesterol, from 222 mg/dL to 242 mg/dL.

Levels of LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, also plummeted in the Neptune Krill Oil group. Neptune Krill Oil at a daily dose of 1 gram, 1.5 grams, 2 grams, or 3 grams caused a significant 32, 36, 37, and 39 percent drop in LDL cholesterol, respectively. Baseline levels were decreased in the Neptune Krill Oil 1-gram per day group from 168 mg/dL to 114 mg/dL, in the 1.5-g/day group from 165 mg/dL to 106 mg/dL, and in the 2- and 3-gram per day groups from 183 mg/dL and 173 mg/dL to 114 mg/dL and 105 mg/dL, respectively. Patients treated daily with 3 grams fish oil did not achieve a significant LDL reduction. In placebo-treated patients, LDL levels rose by 13-percent from 137 mg/dL to 154 mg/ dL.
Neptune Krill Oil's effects extended to HDL, the "good" cholesterol. Researchers noted a rise in HDL cholesterol in subjects taking Neptune Krill Oil. At 1 gram of Neptune Krill Oil per day, HDL levels increased from 57.2 mg/dL to 82.4 mg/dL (a 44 percent rise). Subjects consuming 1.5 grams of Neptune Krill Oil per day experienced a 43 percent increase in HDL from 58.8 mg/dL to 83.9 mg/dL. At 2 grams per day, the subjects experienced a 55 percent increase in HDL from 51 mg/dL to 79.3 mg/dL. Subjects treated with the highest dose (3 grams of Neptune Krill Oil per day) experienced an impressive 59 percent increase in HDL from 64.2 mg/dL to 102.5 mg/dL. Three grams of fish oil also caused a smaller increase in HDL from 56.6 mg/dL to 59.03 mg/dL (a 4.2 percent increase). No significant decrease of HDL was observed within the placebo group, with levels of HDL remaining almost stable.

Although lower doses (1 – 1.5 grams per day) of Neptune Krill Oil resulted in only small, non-significant drops in triglycerides, higher doses (2 and 3 grams) resulted in a significant 27 to 28 percent reduction of triglycerides decreasing from baseline levels of 160.4 mg/dL for the 2 gram group and 152.8 mg/dL for the three gram group to 116.1 mg/dL and 112.3 mg/dL, respectively. Fish oil at 3 grams per day achieved a non-significant 3.2 percent reduction of triglycerides. Inexplicably, the placebo-treated patients also experienced a 9.8 percent decrease in triglycerides.
After the main part of the study was over, patients receiving 1 gram and 1.5 grams per day of Neptune Krill Oil continued for another 12 weeks with a lower maintenance dose of 500 mg Neptune Krill Oil per day. These patients maintained a mean total cholesterol level of 192.5 mg/ dL, a reduction of 19 percent from baseline. In addition, LDL cholesterol declined 44 percent from baseline. A moderate decrease in HDL was seen, from the 36 percent increase at 90 days to 33 percent after 180 days of treatment, which still constituted a significant improvement from baseline. Triglyceride levels also dropped farther from the 12 percent reduction that occurred at 90 days of treatment to 25 percent while on the maintenance dose.

Blood Sugar

The above study also showed another promising effect of Neptune Krill Oil—the ability to lower blood sugar.5 Patients treated with 1 gram and 1.5 grams of Neptune Krill Oil per day saw a 6.3 percent reduction (from 105 mg/dL to 98 mg/dL) in blood glucose levels. Subjects receiving 2 or 3 grams of Neptune Krill Oil per day experienced a 5.6 percent drop in blood glucose (from 92 mg/dL to 88 mg/dL). A daily dose of 3 grams fish oil reduced blood glucose by 3.3 percent, from 90 mg/dL to 87 mg/ dL. Placebo treatment resulted in a slight increase in blood glucose.
Blood glucose continued to decrease slightly in the subjects who continued on with the follow-up maintenance dose of 500 mg of Neptune Krill Oil.
Conclusion

Neptune Krill Oil combines multiple ingredients with synergistic bioactivity. The exact mechanism of action for Neptune Krill Oil's lipid-lowering effects is not yet entirely clear. However, Neptune Krill Oil's unique profile of omega-3 fatty acids incorporated into phospholipids distinguishes Neptune Krill Oil from other lipid-lowering agents.
Because Neptune Krill Oil is derived from seafood, those with seafood allergies should use NKO with caution, or after suitable allergy testing. Those taking anticoagulant medication, or who suffer from extreme bleeding conditions, should use Neptune Krill Oil only with medical supervision.
Next Month: I will explore Neptune Krill Oil's anti-inflammatory actions, including its ability to lower C-Reactive Protein.
(Editor's Note: Although Neptune Krill Oil's effect on cholesterol appears to be superior to fish oil, high quality fish oil supplements such as Ethyl EPA or Nordic Naturals fish oils, can still be used by individuals searching for an economical way to support heart health. Neptune Krill Oil, on the other hand, is an ideal option for anyone who wants to take omega-3 supplementation to a higher level.)

Tina Sampalis M.D., Ph.D.

Neptune Krill Oil™ Part II: Lowering Inflammatory Markers

By Tina Sampalis, MD, PhD
This is part two of a three part series about a novel source of omega-3 fatty acids known as Neptune Krill Oil™. In the first part of the series, I discussed Neptune Krill Oil as a source of a powerful antioxidant known as astaxanthin, the way Neptune Krill Oil's fatty acids are bound to phospholipids, and Neptune Krill Oil's role as a lipid-lowering agent.

In this installment, I will discuss Neptune Krill Oil's ability to reduce inflammation and lower levels of the inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein.

Inflammation is an immune response that occurs after bodily injury. This inflammation response to injury is non-specific, that is, it's identical regardless of whether we're exposed to a harmful organism such as bacteria, a foreign body, ischemia (deprivation of blood flow), physical trauma, ionizing radiation, electrical energy or extremes of temperature.

Inflammation is a double-edged sword. We need a limited amount of inflammation for the healing process to continue, and inflammation is often a normal part of the body's immune response. However, excess inflammation or chronic inflammation can be detrimental to our health.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is thought to be one of the main culprits behind inflammation. Elevated CRP levels are associated with acute bacterial, viral and other infections, pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis), heart attacks, hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer. Researchers also have found elevated CRP levels in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), obesity, diabetes, uremia, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, high levels of alcohol consumption, low levels of physical activity, and depression. In addition, physical exertion and hormone replacement therapy are linked to elevated CRP.1-2

CRP is thought to be the reason why even dental infections are linked to heart disease. Periodontitis triggers an inflammatory and immune response with a rise in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and levels of inflammatory IgA-class antibodies in response to dental pathogens. In patients with gum disease, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease seems to be highest in those individuals in whom periodontitis coexists with elevated CRP levels. Research also indicates this relationship between high CRP levels and cardiovascular disease also applies to other chronic low-grade infections.3

NKO and Inflammation

Neptune Krill Oil supports proper anti-inflammatory responses in the body through a mechanism still being investigated. Researchers have speculated that NKO is able to act as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting inflammatory mediators such as prostacyclin, thromboxane, and leukotrienes produced by cells in response to inflammation.

Neptune Krill Oil's potential to affect these inflammatory mediators may be the reason it has shown such great promise in reducing inflammation. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, my colleagues and I investigated NKO's effect on patients with joint pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.4 Subjects diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis and who had high levels of C-reactive protein (greater than 1.0 mg/dl) were eligible to participate in the study. Ninety subjects were randomly assigned to either Neptune Krill Oil 300 mg per day or a placebo. Patients also were able to consume 325 mg tablets of acetaminophen if needed for pain.

At baseline, and 7, 14 and 30 days after treatment, researchers measured blood C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. We also evaluated the extent of joint pain, flexibility and stiffness by asking the subjects to answer questions on the WOMAC questionnaire. The Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) assesses the efficacy of treatment effects in patients with osteoarthritis. The result indicated that Neptune Krill Oil could cause a drop in CRP levels. Patients treated with NKO experienced a reduction from a mean CRP measurement of 2.49 mg/dl at baseline to 1.72 mg/dl at the end of the 30-day study—what amounted to a nearly 31 percent drop in CRP levels. Placebo-treated patients, in contrast, experienced a rise in mean CRP levels from 2.87 mg/dl at baseline to 3.59 mg/dl after 30 days.

WOMAC scores also improved with NKO treatment, indicating that Neptune Krill Oil was having an effect on joint pain and stiffness. WOMAC pain scores, which at baseline were a mean of 3.39 in the NKO-treated group, fell to a mean of 2.09 after 30 days. In the placebo group, pain scores remained virtually unchanged during the study. WOMAC stiffness scores also declined in the Neptune Krill Oil group. At baseline, the mean stiffness score of patients in the NKO group was 3.45. By 30 days, this score had declined to a mean of 2.10 in the NKO group. The placebo group experienced a slight rise in stiffness scores from a mean of 2.85 at baseline to 2.97 after 30 days.

The NKO-treated group also experienced a lessening in functional impairment (i.e. an increased ability to move). The mean WOMAC functional impairment score decreased from a mean of 3.34 at baseline to 2.14 after 30 days in the NKO group. The placebo group experienced only a slight improvement in functional impairment from a mean of 2.98 at baseline to 2.78 after 30 days.

As a result of these findings, my colleagues and I concluded: "Successful demonstration of an enhanced effect may provide a basis for clinical use of Neptune Krill Oil in patients with inflammatory disease."

Astaxanthin as Anti-Inflammatory

One major component of Neptune Krill Oil, a carotenoid called astaxanthin, also has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. It is thought to influence inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory mediators known as NF-kappaB and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

In one study, researchers induced uveitis intraocular (eye) infections in rats. They then injected varying doses of astaxanthin into the animals. Over the disease duration, the researchers measured the expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in animals who had been given astaxanthin and animals that remained untreated.

Rats injected with astaxanthin showed a significant decrease in the number of infectious cells in the anterior chamber of the eye. In addition, there was a significantly lower concentration of inflammatory mediators such as TNF-alpha and prostaglandin E2 in the aqueous humor of the eye. Moreover, even early stages of uveitis were suppressed by injection of astaxanthin. The number of activated NF-kappaB-positive cells was lower in iris-ciliary bodies of the eye treated with 10 or 100 mg per kg astaxanthin at 3 hours after inoculation with the infection.5

According to the researchers, "These results suggest that AST reduces ocular inflammation in eyes with EIU by downregulating proinflammatory factors and by inhibiting the NF-kappaB-dependent signaling pathway."
Researchers often use the substance carrageenan to induce edema in animal experiments. In one study, they used carrageenan to induce inflammation of the paws in rats. Then they administered astaxanthin. Astaxanthin significantly inhibited the carrageenan-induced inflammation.6

A synthetic form of astaxanthin, Disodium Disuccinate Astaxanthin, also has been shown to lower levels of C-reactive protein.7 In addition, this synthetic form has reduced injury to rabbit hearts after researchers occluded the animals' arteries.8

Although the above study investigating astaxanthin and heart health was conducted with a synthetic form of astaxanthin, it would be interesting to see the results of similar studies using the natural form of this carotenoid, as I suspect the results would be similar.

Neptune Krill Oil as a whole as well as one of its main components, the carotenoid astaxanthin, have exerted anti-inflammatory effects. These properties indicate that NKO may assist anyone seeking to support joint and heart health or who wants to maintain healthy levels of C-reactive protein.


Tina Sampalis MD, PhD

Dr. Tina Sampalis is an Oncology Surgeon with training in Physiology at McGill, training in Medicine at the University of Patras (Greece), Dermatology at the Göttingen University (Germany) and Marselisborg University (Denmark), Pediatric and General Surgery at the University of Athens (Greece) and graduate training (PhD) in Surgical Research at the University of Athens. She also holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Experimental Surgery at McGill University. She has received several international scholarships and awards for her work on the clinical implementation of retinols and breast cancer including the Helen Hutchison Award for geriatric medicine. Her work on Scintimammography, has resulted in her appointment at the Educational Speakers Bureau, in the Canadian and U.S. Faculty of Medical Speakers for Breast Imaging. As an international scholar she is leading the development and implementation of innovative micro-invasive and stereo tactic surgical techniques for breast cancer, for which a USA and Canadian patent application has been filed. She has had her work appear in multiple peer-reviewed publications, and has been a presenter at international conferences. In addition, she is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Medicine. Since May 2000 she has held the position of vice-president of Research & Business Development of Neptune Technologies & Bioresources and has been devoted to the research and development of Neptune Krill Oil.

Neptune Krill Oil™ Part III:

Its Effects on Premenstrual Syndrome, Painful Periods, H. Pylori and Skin Health

Tina Sampalis, MD, PhD.

This is the final installment of a three-part series about a novel source of omega-3 fatty acids known as Neptune Krill Oil™ (NKO). In the first part of the series, I discussed Neptune Krill Oil as a source of a powerful antioxidant known as astaxanthin, the way Neptune Krill Oil's fatty acids are bound to phospholipids, and Neptune Krill Oil's role as a lipid-lowering agent. In the second installment, I discussed Neptune Krill Oil's ability to reduce inflammation and lower levels of the inflammatory marker known as C-Reactive protein.

In this third part of the series, I will explain how Neptune Krill Oil can support women with PMS, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation with cramping) and breast tenderness and how NKO's carotenoid component astaxanthin inhibits H. pylori in animals. I will also discuss NKO's ability to increase feelings of well being and improve skin health.

PMS and Painful Menstruation

Between puberty and menopause, 85 to 97 percent of women are estimated to experience premenstrual symptoms. For 30 to 40 percent of these women, symptoms are severe enough to warrant seeking out a physician's advice and 3 to 5 percent of women find their lives significantly disrupted by this condition.1
PMS is characterized by a cluster of cyclical symptoms that begin after ovulation and end with the onset of menstruation or shortly after. Symptoms include feeling suddenly sad, tearful, irritable or angry; persistent and marked anger and irritability; significant anxiety, tension and feelings of being "keyed up" or "on edge"; decreased interest in usual activities such as work or hobbies; fatigue; difficulty in concentrating; food cravings or overeating; insomnia or sleeping for excessive lengths of time; breast tenderness or swelling; headaches; joint or muscle pain; and bloating.2 These symptoms disrupt work, social activities and relationships with others.

A number of factors are thought to play a role in PMS. Hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies or excess, increased production of inflammatory prostaglandins, and neurotransmitter imbalances could all be involved.3-4 However, results of laboratory tests are inconsistent, with some women showing adequate levels of hormones and nutrients while other women seem to have an excess or deficiency of certain hormones, neurotransmitters or nutrients. Consequently, the most likely cause of the physical symptoms of PMS is an inflammatory response caused by the interaction of hormones and nutrients. The emotional symptoms of PMS, on the other hand, could be triggered by an exaggerated response of neurotransmitters to psychosocial stresses. Both of these physical and emotional imbalances are different among different people and vary even among menstrual cycles within the same individual.
Along with PMS, dysmenorrhea, or painful menstruation with cramping, is one of the most common gynecological complaints among women. It is estimated that 50 percent of menstruating women suffer from this condition. Dysmenorrhea can be so severe that 10 percent of women experiencing it are incapacitated for several days during each period, due to the cramping and other symptoms that may occur including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low back pain, headache, dizziness, and in some cases, even fainting and collapse. Painful periods are the greatest single cause of absence from school and work among menstrual-age women. In the U.S., an estimated 140,000,000 work hours are lost each year due to this condition.5

Mechanisms of Menstruation

Hormonal regulation and the maintenance of healthy cell membranes are partly dependent upon the balance of essential fatty acids in the body. However, the Western diet often includes an abundance of omega-6 fatty acids and lacks a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids to provide the proper balance between these two nutrients. When omega-6 fatty acids are consumed, they are converted into such pro-inflammatory substances as arachidonic acid. When arachidonic acid builds up in the phospholipids of cell membranes, this can trigger the production of pro-inflammatory type-2 prostaglandins, the increased production of which is linked to dysmenorrhea. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, assist the body in producing anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.6
When progesterone levels plummet just before menstruation, omega-6 fatty acids, especially arachidonic acid, are released in the body. In the uterus, this onslaught of omega-6 fatty acids causes the production of inflammatory prostaglandins. In addition, arachidonic acid metabolites known as leukotrienes that function as chemical mediators of inflammation are produced in the uterus. Simultaneously, arachidonic acid is broken down into cyclooxygenase (the enzyme also involved in arthritis pain), which causes vasoconstriction and contractions of the myometrium, the smooth muscle layer of the uterine wall, forming the main mass of the uterus.7-8
The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid cause the body to produce less powerful leukotrienes and anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Consequently, myometrial contractions and uterine vasoconstriction decrease, relieving ischemia and reducing pain.9-11
As confirmation that the imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in PMS and menstrual pain, scientists measured plasma fatty acids levels in 42 women with PMS. Levels of linoleic acid, the main dietary source of omega-6 fatty acids, were significantly above normal in all the women. However, levels of linoleic's anti-inflammatory metabolites, such as gamma-linolenic acid, were deficient.12 This study lends credence to the belief that one of the primary causes of PMS is omega-6-triggered inflammation.
Furthermore, research has indicated omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help control food and sweet cravings that occur before menstruation. Inadequate intake of essential fatty acids or problems in converting linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid can result in a deficiency of prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). PGE1 inhibits glucose-induced insulin secretion and a deficiency of PGE1 could cause the hypoglycemic symptoms, cravings for sweets and increased appetite that occur during PMS.13-16

Alleviating Menstrual Symptoms

In a recent study, I decided to investigate whether Neptune Krill Oil™ (NKO), a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, could help alleviate PMS and dysmenorrhea.17 NKO, extracted from Antarctic krill, contains phospholipids and triglycerides linked to omega-3 fatty acids. NKO is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A and E and the carotenoid astaxanthin.

The double-blind study included 70 women of reproductive age who met the criteria for PMS. The subjects were then randomly divided into two groups. One group of 36 subjects received NKO, the other group of 34 subjects received fish oil. Once randomized into these two groups, subjects underwent a physical examination then completed a self-assessment questionnaire and reported their usual intake of analgesics to alleviate menstrual pain. My colleagues and I asked participants to stop supplementation with other dietary supplements for two weeks before starting supplementation with either fish oil or NKO. For the study's first month, subjects consumed either two, one-gram soft gels of NKO per day or fish oil supplements containing 18 percent EPA and 12 percent DHA once per day with meals. For the next two months, the women consumed two, one gram soft gels of either NKO or the fish oil eight days before and two days during menstruation. All patients were asked to consume a diet containing 20 percent fat with less than 10 percent animal fat, 40 percent protein, and 40 percent carbohydrates.

The results of the study were determined according to the scores of a self-assessment questionnaire for PMS based on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists diagnostic criteria for premenstrual syndrome. The measures range from 0 for no symptoms to 10 for unbearable symptoms. In addition, researchers noted the difference in consumption of analgesics for menstrual pain at the study's start compared to 45 and 90 days.
According to the self-assessment questionnaire, subjects taking NKO experienced a statistically significant reduction in scores. After the first menstrual cycle at 45 days and after the second and third menstrual cycles at 90 days, NKO-treated subjects noted a significant reduction in overall emotional (feeling overwhelmed, stressed, irritable and depressed) and physical (breast tenderness, and joint pain) PMS symptoms. NKO and fish oil both worked equally well in reducing weight gain, abdominal pain, bloating and swelling.

Before the study started, both the women in the NKO group and the women in the fish oil group consumed roughly the same amount of analgesics (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin) to combat symptoms of PMS and menstrual pain. The number of analgesics consumed by women taking NKO, however, was significantly reduced—up to 40 percent in the first 45 days and by 50 percent after 90 days. During the ten days of the month the women were treated, the NKO group experienced a significantly greater reduction in analgesic use compared to the fish oil group. After taking NKO, subjects also reported an increase of alertness, energy and well-being.
None of the subjects reported serious side effects. Three of the NKO-treated women experienced a shortened menstrual cycle by 3 to 7 days, an effect that only occurred during the first month of treatment and disappeared when the dose was reduced to two gel caps per day for 10 days per month. Minor oiliness of the facial skin also occurred in some of the NKO subjects. Sixty-four percent of the subjects taking fish oil experienced regurgitation of the supplement while none of the NKO-treated subjects complained of this effect.

As we wrote in our report of the study, which was published in the Alternative Medicine Review, "The results of the present study indicate that Neptune Krill Oil has statistically significant and clinically marked benefits against the inflammatory dysmenorrhea symptom complex as well as on the emotional symptomatology that characterizes premenstrual syndrome."

We theorized that NKO's ability to alleviate emotional symptoms of PMS may be due to its phospholipids content, which influences neurotransmitters that control emotional and psychological symptoms. In the brain, phospholipids are rich in the cognitive-supporting omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Furthermore, these cerebral phospholipids themselves play an integral role in cognitive function. There is a synergistic effect between NKO's omega-3 fatty acids and its phospholipids, an effect that doesn't exist in regular fish oil since the process used to create fish oil can damage phospholipids.

H. Pylori

Helicobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacterium that is pervasive in our society and affects about half of the world population. Its presence in the gastrointestinal tract relates to an increased risk of ulcers. Helicobacter pylori infection in humans also is associated with chronic type B gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, and gastric cancer.
Studies have indicated that a low dietary intake of antioxidants such as carotenoids and vitamin C may leave the human body vulnerable to H. pylori infections. In mice, dietary antioxidant levels predict how likely an animal will contract an H. pylori infection as well as the bacterial load of H. pylori infected animals.
The development of H. pylori-related disease is in part caused by the immunological response of the body to the invading pathogen. Blood cells involved in immunity such as T-lymphocytes, in the process of doing their job, create inflammation and damage the gastric mucosal lining.

Because antioxidants, including carotenoids, have anti-inflammatory effects, researchers in one study investigated whether the carotenoid antioxidant astaxanthin found in algae as well as in Neptune Krill Oil could influence immune cells known as cytokines that are produced by H. pylori specific T-cells.18 The researchers found that treatment of H. pylori infected mice with an algal cell extract containing astaxanthin reduced H. pylori bacterial load and gastric inflammation. In addition, mice treated with astaxanthin experienced a shift in their immune response. This shift changed the immune response from one that used primarily interferon-gamma (a Th1 response) to a Th1/Th2 response that used both IFN-gamma and Interleukin-4. IFN-gamma and interleukin-4 are both cytokines, proteins produced by white blood cells that provide signals to control immune function during inflammation and infection. Interleukin-4 facilitates communication between cells active in inflammation and the immune response, resulting in a maximized response to invasion by foreign antigens. The fact that astaxanthin can influence the immune response may mean it has a novel role to play in H. pylori infection.

In a later study, the same researchers found that mice treated with astaxanthin-rich algal meal or vitamin C showed significantly lower colonization levels of H. pylori and lower inflammation scores than those of untreated or control-meal-treated animals.19

Skin Health

Neptune Krill Oil has also demonstrated an ability to improve skin health, probably due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that women who consumed NKO experienced an improvement in the look and feel of their hair, skin and nails. In addition, in one study, subjects experienced a 58 percent reduction in wrinkling, redness and other skin conditions.20 In other studies, NKO appeared to induce a greater sense of well-being and happiness.

Conclusion

In various studies, Neptune Krill Oil, a novel source of omega-3 fatty acids, has lowered C-Reactive protein, alleviated arthritis symptoms, supported beneficial cholesterol levels, and improved women's health. In addition, astaxanthin, one of NKO's most powerful antioxidants, can inhibit H. pylori. I am convinced that this substance plays an integral role in optimal health and well-being.

Tina Sampalis M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Tina Sampalis is an Oncology Surgeon with training in Physiology at McGill, training in Medicine at the University of Patras (Greece), Dermatology at the Göttingen University (Germany) and Marselisborg University (Denmark), Pediatric and General Surgery at the University of Athens (Greece) and graduate training (PhD) in Surgical Research at the University of Athens. She also holds a Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Experimental Surgery at McGill University. She has received several international scholarships and awards for her work on the clinical implementation of retinols and breast cancer including the Helen Hutchison Award for geriatric medicine. Her work on Scintimammography, has resulted in her appointment at the Educational Speakers Bureau, in the Canadian and U.S. Faculty of Medical Speakers for Breast Imaging. As an international scholar she is leading the development and implementation of innovative micro-invasive and stereo tactic surgical techniques for breast cancer, for which a USA and Canadian patent application has been filed. She has had her work appear in multiple peer-reviewed publications, and has been a presenter at international conferences. In addition, she is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Medicine. Since May 2000 she has held the position of vice-president of Research & Business Development of Neptune Technologies & Bioresources and has been devoted to the research and development of Neptune Krill Oil.

1. Korzekwa MI, Steiner M. Premenstrual syndromes. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 1997:40;564-576.
2. Spitzer RL, Severino SK, Williams JB, Parry BL. Late luteal phase dysphoric disorder and DSM-III-R. Am J Psychiatry. 1989;146:892-97.
3. Stevinson C, Ernst E. Complementary/Alternative therapies for premenstrual syndrome: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001;185:227-35.
4. True BL, Goodner SM, Burns EA. Review of the etiology and treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Drug Intell Clin Pharm. 1985;19:714-22.
5. Thomas CL, Editor. Taber's® Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Edition 18, p 588.
6. Horrobin DF. The role of essential fatty acids and prostaglandins in the premenstrual syndrome. J Reprod Med. 1983;28:465-68.
7. Alvin PE, Litt IF. Current status of etiology and management of dysmennorrhea in adolescence. Pediatrics. 1982;70:516-25.
8. Cameron IT, Fraser IS, Smith SK. Clinical Disorders of the Endometrium and Menstrual Cycle. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 1998, p. 359.
9. Drevon CA. Marine oils and their effects. Nutr Rev. 1992;50:38-45.
10. Hansen HS. Dietary essential fatty acids and in vivo prostaglandin production in mammals. World Rev Nutr Diet. 1983;42:102-34.
11. Endres S, Ghorbani R, Kelley VE, et al. The effect of dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the synthesis of interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor by mononuclear cells. N Engl J Med. 1989;320:265-71.
12. Brush MG. Evening primrose oil in treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Published in Clinical Uses of Essential Fatty Acids, Horrobin DF, editor, Eden Press, Montreal, Quebec, 1982:155-162.
13. Lee TH, Mencia-Huerta JM, Shih C, et al. Effects of exogenous arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids on the generation of 5-lipoxygenase pathway products by ionophore-activated human neutrophils. J Clin Invest. 1984; 74:1922-1933.
14. Krall JF, Barrett JD, Jamgotchian N, Korenman SG. Interaction of prostaglandin E2 and beta-adrenergic catecholamines in the regulation of uterine smooth muscle motility and adenylate cyclase in the rat. J Endocrinol. 1984;102:329-336.
15. Priddy AR, Killick SR. Eicosanoids and ovulation. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1993;49:827-31.
16. Malle E, Kostner GM. Effects of fish oils on lipid variables and platelet function indices. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1993;49:645-63.
17. Sampalis F, Bunea R, Pelland MF, Kowalski O, Duguet N, Dupuis S. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil™ on the management of premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhea. Alternative Medicine Review. 2003;8(2):171-79.
18. Bennedsen M, Wang X, Willen R, Wadstrom T, Andersen LP. Treatment of H. pylori infected mice with antioxidant astaxanthin reduces gastric inflammation, bacterial load and modulates cytokine release by splenocytes. Immunol Lett. 1999 Dec 1;70(3):185-9.
19. Wang X, Willen R, Wadstrom T. Astaxanthin-rich algal meal and vitamin C inhibit Helicobacter pylori infection in BALB/cA mice. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2000 Sep;44(9):2452-7.
20. Sampalis T. Unpublished research, in print.

References
1. Werner A, Havinga R, Kuipers F, Verkade HJ. Treatment of EFA deficiency with dietary triglycerides or phospholipids in a murine model of extrahepatic cholestasis. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2004;286:G822-G832.
2. Grynbaum MD, Hentschel P, Putzbach K, Rehbein J, Krucker M, Nicholson G, Albert K. Unambiguous detection of astaxanthin and astaxanthin fatty acid esters in krill (Euphausia superba Dana). J Sep Sci. 2005 Sep;28(14):1685-93.
3. Naguib YM. Antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Apr;48(4):1150-4.
4. Palozza P, Krinsky NI. Astaxanthin and canthaxanthin are potent antioxidants in a membrane model. Arch Biochem Biophys. 1992 Sep;297(2):291-5.
5. Bunea R, El Farrah K, Deutsch L. Evaluation of the Effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the Clinical Course of Hyperlipidemia. Alternative Medicine Review. 2004;9(4):420-8.

References
1. Kushner I. C-Reactive Protein and the Acute Phase Response. Hospital Practice. 1990 March 30; 13-28.
2. Deodhar SD. C-Reactive Protein: The best laboratory indicator available for monitoring disease activity. Cleveland Clinic J Medicine. 1989;56(2):126-129.
3. Mattila KJ, Pussinen PJ, Paju S. Dental Infections and Cardiovascular Diseases: A Review. J Periodontol. 2005 Nov;76(11-s):2085-2088.
4. Sampalis T. Evaluation of the Effect of NKO™ on Biomarkers of Chronic Inflammation In Vivo. June 9, 2004. Unpublished research.
5. Suzuki Y, Ohgami K, Shiratori K, Jin XH, Ilieva I, Koyama Y, Yazawa K, Yoshida K, Kase S, Ohno S. Suppressive effects of astaxanthin against rat endotoxin-induced uveitis by inhibiting the NF-kappaB signaling pathway. Exp Eye Res. 2005 Aug 25; [Epub ahead of print].
6. Kurashige M, Okimasu E, Inoue M, Utsumi K. Inhibition of oxidative injury of biological membranes by astaxanthin. Physiol Chem Phys Med NMR. 1990;22(1):27-38.
7. Lockwood SF, Gross GJ. Disodium disuccinate astaxanthin (Cardax): antioxidant and antiinflammatory cardioprotection. Cardiovasc Drug Rev. 2005 Fall;23(3):199-216.
8. Lauver DA, Lockwood SF, Lucchesi BR. Disodium Disuccinate Astaxanthin (Cardax) attenuates complement activation and reduces myocardial injury following ischemia/reperfusion. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2005 Aug;314(2):686-92. Epub 2005 May 4.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  j87x on Wed Apr 28, 2010 4:47 am

CausticSymmetry wrote:j87x - Krill oil is consistently superior to fish oil in studies. Fish oil is frequently molecularly distilled, which my denature the oil.

Krill oil penetrates the blood-brain-barrier, regular fish oil does not.

High dose fish oil may be adverse to blood sugar, krill oil is good for blood sugar.

Krill oil reduces triglycerides better than fish oil.

I have only read that astraxanthin crosses the blood-brian barrier, I can't find anything about the fatty acids or krill oil itself crossing it.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  Amaranthaceae on Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:09 pm

Fish oil do cross into the brain .. there are some pretty good fish oils sourced from
wild fish --Natural factors.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  CausticSymmetry on Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:25 pm

Here is a decent article on Krill. The choline via the phospholipids is another factor.

http://www.krill-oil-benefits.com/krill-oil-adhd.php

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  j87x on Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:30 am

I've read that krill oil helps regulate hormones which is why it's effective with PMS/mentrual cycles. Do you think it does anything to balance out hormones in males?

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  j87x on Thu Apr 29, 2010 1:49 am

North-Europe wrote:Fish oil do cross into the brain .. there are some pretty good fish oils sourced from
wild fish --Natural factors.

So fish oil can provide fatty acids past the blood-brain barrier too? Are there any studies on this?

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  Directo on Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:13 am

Silly question: "Neptune" is the type of the krill or the name of the brand?

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  Amaranthaceae on Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:34 am

Alot of money can be saved by opting asthaxanthin and cod liver over ecklonia cava and krill oil.

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Re: Krill oil v. astaxanthin supplements

Post  Odysseus on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:37 am

cpio wrote:Alot of money can be saved by opting asthaxanthin and cod liver over ecklonia cava and krill oil.

Great point. I've been doing that for now for several months.

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