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Krill oil beneficial for muscle function and size in seniors, according to new study

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In a newly published study by the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, scientists find that krill oil supplementation of four grams (g) per day can have beneficial effects on skeletal muscle function and size in healthy, older people. Krill oil contains high concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA which previous scientific studies have shown are important nutrients for the body as it ages.

“As humans age, we experience a slow deterioration of our muscle mass and function. Previous research has indicted that EPA and DHA supplementation can positively impact muscle protein synthesis, muscle volume and strength, and interestingly this new study also suggests that choline in krill oil may have additional beneficial effects for skeletal muscle metabolism and health. This study strengthens the hypothesis that daily supplementation of krill oil for an extended period can improve thigh muscle strength, grip strength and muscle thickness in healthy, older adults,” says Line Johnsen, VP Science & Regulatory Affairs, Aker BioMarine.

Inside the study

The randomized, double blind, controlled trial included 102 men and women all above 65 years of age. The participants were relatively inactive to engaging in less than one hour of self-reported exercise each week on entry to the study.


The participants were randomly divided into two groups, a control group that received the placebo and a test group that received four g per day of Superba krill oil from Aker BioMarine. Prior to the start of the study, researchers measured baseline levels for thigh muscle strength, grip strength and thigh muscle thickness, as well as short performance physical function and a range of factors, such as body fat and blood lipid levels.


Key findings

Participants receiving daily krill oil supplements showed the following improvements (from baseline) at the end of the study:

  • Increase in thigh muscle strength (9.3%), grip strength (10.9%) and thigh muscle thickness (3.5%), relative to control group.
  • Increase in red blood cell fatty acid profile for EPA 214%, DHA 36% and the omega-3 index 61%, relative to control group. 
  • Increased M-Wave of 17% (relative to the control group), which shows the excitability of muscle membrane within the muscle.



At the completion of the study, with a total of 94 remaining participants, the scientists concluded that daily krill oil supplementation for six months results in statistically and clinically significant increases in muscle function and size in healthy older adults.


“This is yet another a strong indication that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are important nutrients for adults as we age, and we are keen to investigate this further, particularly whether this could be a useful treatment for those who already have muscle weakness,” says Dr Stuart Gray, Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom.

More information

These results in detail are now published in Clinical Nutrition, in an article authored by Saleh AA. Alkhedhairi, Faris F. Aba Alkhayl, Ahmad D. Ismail, A. Rozendaal, M. German, B. MacLean, L. Johnston, A.A. Miller, A.M. Hunter, L.J. Macgregor, E. Combet, T.J. Quinn, S.R. Gray. More information on krill oil and its effects on human health, including previous research on joint and heart health are available upon request from Aker BioMarine.


About Aker BioMarine

Aker BioMarine is a biotech innovator and Antarctic krill-harvesting company, dedicated to improving human and planetary health. Listed on Oslo Stock Exchange, the company develops krill-based ingredients for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical (Superba®, NKO® and K·REAL®), aquaculture (QRILL™ Aqua), and animal feed applications (QRILL™ Pet), including INVI™, a highly concentrated protein isolate, and LYSOVETA™, a targeted transporter of EPA and DHA from krill. Aker BioMarine’s fully transparent value chain stretches from sustainable krill harvesting in pristine Antarctic waters through its Montevideo logistics hub, Houston production plant, and to customers around the world. The company’s strong focus on sustainability inspired the launch of AION by Aker BioMarine, a circularity company dedicated to helping companies to recycle and reuse waste. Read more: www.akerbiomarine.com