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Krill oil phospholipid omega-3 for osteoarthritis and joint health?

Joint health

13 min. read


Yes! Krill oil has proven benefits to help reduce symptoms of joint pain & discomfort among arthritis sufferers and krill oil’s beneficial effect on joint health is now recognised on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) as ‘assessed listed’ medicine.

A new groundbreaking study concludes that krill oil improves knee pain, stiffness, and physical function in adults between 40 to 65 years old with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis (OA). 

Those findings, in conjunction with other research, is a good sign for the more than 500 million people globally living with arthritis.


Mobility and flexibility and the role of joints, bones and muscles

Joints serve as meeting points for two bones, allowing mobility and flexibility as bones move in relation to each other, and in conjunction with muscles, they comprise the musculoskeletal system, enabling movement.

Sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteoarthritis are common afflictions in the elderly, impacting mobility and quality of life.

Krill oil supplementation has shown potential benefits for addressing sarcopenia, increasing muscle strength, thickness and neuromuscular function in older individuals.

For joint health in the elderly with knee osteoarthritis, krill oil phospholipids has demonstrated improvements in knee pain, stiffness and physical function. 


What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disorder causing joint pain, commonly knee pain, that affects approximately 30% of individuals aged 40 and over (1). As the leading cause of disability in the U.S., arthritis costs the public health system $303 billion annually.


Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wear down over time. In healthy joints, cartilage covers the end of each bone and provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion, acting as a cushion between the bones. In OA, this cartilage breaks down gradually over time resulting in joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, swelling, and problems with overall joint mobility.


The most common attribute in patients suffering from joint pain is inflammation and this is the main feature targeted by many treatments trying to alleviate joint pain.


Ultra-processed food is killing us and how krill oil can help with lowering levels of  inflammation in the body


Non-surgical relief of joint pain caused by inflammation typically involves use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 


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Krill oil phospholipids of omega-3 and choline in inflammation

Oil extracted from the krill species Euphausia superba, a small crustacean living in large swarms in the Southern ocean, is naturally rich in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are mostly bound in phospholipids of which the main type is phosphatidylcholine, resulting in a significant content of the nutrient choline in krill oil.


The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have an important role in both modulating and shortening inflammatory reactions in osteoarthritis and also the pain associated with them (2,3,4).


Increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and substituting the omega-6 fatty acids in cell membranes with omega-3s, will contribute to a better inflammatory environment, beneficial for joint health.


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Read more: what are omega-3s and what are their health benefits


Breakthrough study demonstrates positive effects of krill oil on osteoarthritis and joint health

A new randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study led by Dr. Welma Stonehouse from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), in conjunction with an Australian research team, investigated the effects of krill oil on adults suffering from mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis and knee pain (5).


The study concluded that Superba BOOST™ krill oil resulted in improvements in knee pain, stiffness, and physical function in adults with mild to moderate Knee Osteoarthritis (OA).


Moreover, the study found that participants with the greatest level of inflammation at baseline experienced greater improvements in knee pain. The science study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one of the top tier scientific journals in nutrition. 


For this study, Aker BioMarine, CSIRO and Swisse took home this year’s Nutrition Research Project prize at the 2022 Nutra Ingredients Asia Award:

Winner NI - Signature Banner


Years of research helps put krill oil front and center when it comes to joint health. Further proof points to new health indications now included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).


The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG)

The ARTG is the public database of therapeutic goods that can be legally supplied in Australia and it is managed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

 Superba™ Boost Krill oil, used by the Swisse brand in Australia, is now included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) as an ‘assessed listed’ medicine. This means that the regulator has assessed the medicine’s indications and found that they are supported by scientific evidence. Consumers can have the confidence that the product delivers what it says it will.

The two specific indications are:

1. To decrease, reduce, relieve knee pain and stiffness in mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
2. Increase knee physical function in mild to moderate osteoarthritis

Line Johnsen, SVP Human Health & Nutrition R&D at Aker BioMarine says: “This came after decade’s worth of scientific research focused on uncovering the full potential of krill and is a testimony to the effectiveness of Aker BioMarine’s Antarctic krill oil as a serious contender in the joint health space.

Aker BioMarine has continually invested in research in many countries and at different times and this research consistently shows that this powerful and natural blend of essential nutrients is both safe to consume and can lead to improvements in knee pain, stiffness, and physical function in adults, in addition to heart and brain benefits.


Why krill oil phospholipids for joint health?

As a clean marine supplement, krill oil delivers a natural combination of vital cellular nutrients for human health - phospholipids, omega-3s EPA and DHA, choline and astaxanthin. Krill oil is unique as its phospholipid advantage provides better integration of omega-3 and choline into the body’s cells. This is key as improving joint health starts at the cellular level and boosting cells with nutrients from krill oil helps the body deal with oxidative stress, inflammation, and other important factors for joint health.

Furthermore, the choline naturally found in krill oil, is beneficial for muscle function and health. Healthy muscles are vital for supporting and protecting our joints.


Krill Oil Nutrients

Krill oil is unique in that it delivers a natural combination of essential nutrients and leads to better uptake and absorption of omega-3s in the body due to its phospholipid advantage.

Read more: What are phospholipids and why should you care?

Read more: What is choline and what are the health benefits


Improving joint health starts at the cellular level

Krill oil ensures superior transport, efficient delivery and higher integration of phospholipid omega-3 & choline, directly into the cell membranes in all tissues of the body.                                    


Boosting our cells with nutrients from krill oil, in the phospholipid form, ensures robust cells and a body that is better prepared to deal with aging, oxidative stress, inflammation and more.


Cell & health benefits

This all benefits joint health, as well as many other health benefits for the heart, liver, muscles and even your skin. There is no question that it’s time to take control of joint pain and krill oil is a great solution.


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1. Cui A, Li H, Wang D, Zhong J, Chen Y, Lu H. Global, regional prevalence, incidence and risk factors of knee osteoarthritis in population-based studies. EClinicalMedicine. 2020 Dec 1;29:100587.

2. Calder PC. Marine omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes. Effects, mechanisms and clinical relevance. Biochim Biophys Acta 2015;1851(4):469-84.

3. Hals PA, Wang X, Piscitelli F, Di Marzo V, Xiao YF. The time course of erythrocyte membrane fatty acid concentrations during and after treatment of non-human primates with increasing doses of an omega-3 rich phospholipid preparation derived from krill oil. Lipids Health Dis. 2017;16:16.

4. Samuelsson B, Dahlen SE, Lindgren JA, Rouzer CA, Serhan CN. Leukotrienes and lipoxins: structures, biosynthesis, and biological effects. Science 1987;237:1171–6.

5. Welma Stonehouse, Bianca Benassi-Evans, Jana Bednarz, Andrew D Vincent, Stephen Hall, Catherine L Hill. Krill oil improved osteoarthritic knee pain in adults with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis: a 6-month multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nqac125. 2022. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqac125.