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Can Krill Oil Cause Diarrhea? – Prepare Your Toilet!

Krill oil has a lot of health benefits but there are also some downsides to taking this supplement… One that you may have heard of or have experienced for yourself being diarrhea. 

Even WebMD states that it can cause diarrhea and related symptoms. So it has to be true, right? But if it is true… Why does it cause such unwanted frequent trips to the bathroom?

You have diarrhea if you are experiencing the symptoms of...

  • Loose and watery stools
  • Bloating & cramping
  • Abnormally frequent trips to the toilet

And then of course there are other more severe symptoms, such as blood in the stool, which we would recommend seeing your doctor about.

But is it a result of the krill oil?

The answer is that it very well could be. Krill oil is fairly well known to cause digestive issues. But let's first take a look at what exactly the stuff is in the first place so that we know what we're looking at here.

What Is Krill Oil?

Not that many people know what a krill is. It is actually a little crustacean that looks a lot like a shrimp. In fact, most people would probably think they are shrimp upon seeing them. They get about 2 inches in length and make good meals for fish, birds, and whales. Fun fact: "krill" actually means "whale food" in Norwegian.

Krill oil is, of course, oil that is extracted from these crustaceans. If you are supplementing such, you are probably getting extracted oil from the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), which are one of the most common.

Like fish oil, it is also a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and has many similar uses, such as…

  • Skin health
  • Reducing high cholesterol
  • Arthritis 
  • Heart health
  • And more

The Downside: Gastrointestinal Distress

If you Google "bloating from krill oil", "does krill oil give you gas?", Etc.… You will get plenty of results. The reason for this is… Well… Because getting side effects such as these are pretty darn common, more common than we all would like to see.

Bloating - Feeling bloated is a very common side effect that people report after taking krill oil. For most people it is not an issue, tending to be mild, but if it does become too uncomfortable or painful then it is advisable to back off the dosage or even discontinue supplementation.

Burping - When you feel bloated it is often a result from gases building up in the digestive system. This excess gas has to be released somehow, and the mouth is one of the exits, which results in burping. This will give you a very unpleasant "fishy" taste that is not too enjoyable, but at the same time it is not a serious side effect either.

Gas - Of course another way for your body to release the excess gas is through flatulence. This also isn't the worst side effect but can be uncomfortable and unpleasant… And disgusting.

Diarrhea - Diarrhea is a much less common side effect, but it is one that has been reported and that is definitely possible. You will likely experience all or most of the side effects mentioned above before experiencing loose and watery stools.

Constipation - On the opposite side of the spectrum you also have constipation, which believe it or not is another reported side effect to taking krill oil. It just depends on the person… Krill oil is known to upset digestion but the symptoms you will experience depend on your body.

Vomiting - In some of the most severe cases your body may resort to vomiting in order to get the oily substance out of it as fast as possible. There are even reported cases of people being sick days after digestion has run its course, although this is not nearly as likely to happen.

Why Krill Causes Diarrhea & Other Digestive Issues

So the big question is why does it cause digestive issues such as diarrhea?

Well… At least some reported side effects can be attributed to allergic reactions. Some people even compare their symptoms to known allergies that they have… Symptoms like getting runny noses, asthma, swelling, and others typical of allergies.

Another probable reason could be stemming from the high amount of fat found in krill oil. As mentioned earlier, it contains high amounts of omega-3. High and concentrated amounts of fat consumed in short periods of time are known to cause disruptions in digestion. Some people's bodies don't handle fat too well and it can cause the colon and small intestines to secrete excess water… Leading to loose and watery stools, a.k.a. diarrhea.

So Should You Be Taking It or Not?

There is no doubt that a good number of people have experienced, and will continue to experience, adverse reactions to krill oil. Because of this we would definitely suggest that, if you do plan on supplementing such, start out with a very small dose. Maybe just start out with one softgel the first day and see if that causes you any trouble. Then increase the dosage until you reach the recommended amount.

If you do start to take it and are experiencing unwanted side effects, you may think about taking fish oil instead. After all, fish oil is a very similar alternative and is much more common in stores. However, unfortunately if you are having trouble taking krill oil then you are probably going to be having trouble taking fish oil as well due to the fact that they are so similar. That said, it could be worth a try.

One thing that you should not be doing while supplementing either of these oils is taking blood thinning medications. The reason for this is because both krill and fish oil are known to have blood thinning effects, which can become dangerous when coupled with another medication that does the same. This is one of the reasons that getting a bloody nose is a side effect that some people report.

If you do have a slight case of diarrhea and would like to solve it naturally, check out our list of foods that are good for diarrhea. While not guaranteed to fix the problem, they could be worth a shot.

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Starting his writing career in 2015, Kyle is a leading contributor here at GutAdvisor, and for good reason. Having a passion for health and the awareness that proper digestion plays a key role one's overall well-being, he regularly keeps the community informed with valuable information regarding gut health.

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