Omega-3 supplements are a big hit in the nutrition industry. That’s because our bodies can’t naturally produce omega-3s, yet they’re vital for the structure of every cell membrane in our bodies.
Krill oil and fish oil are among the most common omega-3 dietary supplements rich in the two main types of omega-3 fatty acids—DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
Although these two supplements contain similar components and have the same benefits, several preliminary studies prove that krill oil is a superior alternative with added health benefits.
The two omega-3 supplements also differ in terms of
- Accessibility and pricing
Keep reading to learn the differences between krill and fish oil.
AN OVERVIEW OF KRILL OIL VS. FISH OIL
Processed oil extracted from Antarctic krill is called krill oil.
It was first discovered in Norwegian from the tiny sea arthropods, which are a dietary staple for larger sea animals, like whales, seals, penguins, and sharks.
Fish oil is the most popular nutritional supplement known to the majority.
It was first discovered in Greenland and is unsheathed from the tissues of fatty fish, such as albacore tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel. It is also true that sometimes it can be extracted from the livers of fish.
Krill oil and fish oil have the same health benefits relating to heart health, brain health, inflammation, and overall well being.
However, the two differ a lot in chemical composition and structure, which brings about definitive differences and the possible superiority of krill oil over fish oil.
Here’s what an ATH Sport customer says after taking krill oil softgels:
"Love this Krill Oil. Doesn't tase bad and easier pills to swallow than typical Omega 3 pills."
Tim | Customer Review
COMPARING KRILL OIL VERSUS FISH OIL
Here are the top five differences between the two depicted.
|TOP 5||KRILL OIL||FISH OIL|
|Bioavailability||Easier to absorb||Lower absorption rates|
|Palatability||More water soluble, hence do not cause a fishy aftertaste or reflux||Lingers on the stomach surface, cause fishy aftertaste, reflux, and burping|
|Environmental sustainability||No immediate detrimental effects of harvesting Antarctic krill||Overfishing for fish oil harvesting endangers marine life|
|Accessibility and pricing||More expensive||Cheaper|
|Contamination levels||Low levels of heavy metals, PCBs, and other contaminants||High levels of heavy metals and other toxic residues|
FISH OIL CONTAINS A HIGHER OMEGA-3 CONTENT
Fish oil contains 30% EPA and DHA while krill oil composition consists of only 14% of the two essential omega-3 fatty acids.
The main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), EPA, and DHA. APA is also commonly found in plants, such as chia seeds, soy beans, canola, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil.
Although APA doesn’t have the same effectiveness as the other two omega-3s in fish oil, it helps to prevent heart diseases, heart attacks, and lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
KRILL OIL SUPPLEMENTS ARE EASILY ABSORBED
In spite of fish oil supplements containing a wider variety and a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids than krill oil, the latter comes out on top because of the phospholipid structure of the fatty acids.
The phospholipids increase the bioavailability of EPA and DHA in krill oil, making it easier for the body to absorb the essential fatty acids more effectively. As a result, your body absorbs more fatty acids even when you take lower doses of krill oil.
The bioavailability of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils is also reduced by the overprocessing to remove toxic contaminants in the oil.
KRILL OIL CONTAINS MORE ANTIOXIDANTS
Krill oil’s superiority over fish also stems from the availability of a powerful antioxidant known as astaxanthin.
This natural antioxidant is essential for reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body, protecting cells from damage, and strengthening the immune system.
Astaxanthin and vitamin E present in krill oil act as natural preservatives. These prevent your supplements from going rancid on the shelf and ensures they get to you fresh and devoid of any artificial preservatives
Additionally, astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties reduce cardiovascular risk markers by increasing “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels and decreasing “bad” low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.
KRILL OIL IS A SUSTAINABLE OMEGA-3 SOURCE
Antarctic krill are the world’s most abundant crustaceans with a biomass of between 170 to 740 million tons.
They’re a vital species in the Southern Ocean ecosystem that feeds on phytoplankton and zooplankton and provide food for larger predators both on the water surface and in the deep sea.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) regulates krill fishing.
The CCAMLR has set both a sustainable harvest limit of 5.6 million tonnes annually and a precautionary trigger limit which is 1% of the unexploited 60 million unexploited krill biomass.
Currently, krill fishing remains at less than 200,000 tonnes, less than half of the precautionary level.
Thus, krill oil is a more sustainable source of omega-3, considering large-scale fishing of other fish species used to extract fish oil is already 15-30% above the recommended safe quotas.
KRILL OIL IS FREE OF CONTAMINANTS
As krill oil is extracted from Antarctica, a pristine environment, chances of potential intoxication and contamination are low. That’s compared to fish oil, which is often contaminated with heavy metals and toxic residues, such as
The short lifespan of krills also significantly reduces the possibility of toxin contamination, while the longer lifespans of fish make them more susceptible to contamination.
KRILL OIL IS BETTER FOR HEART HEALTH
Both fish oil and krill oil are popular among people suffering from heart disease. The two improve the risks associated with cardiovascular disease.
One study suggests that krill oil contributes to improved cardiovascular disease better than fish oil. The randomized controlled trial involved administration of placebo, krill oil, and fish oil supplements to participants.
The daily doses were adjusted for body weight and the effects were observed after three months.
Evidence suggests that both krill oil and fish oil improved the participants' heart disease risk factors and reduced
- Blood glucose levels
- Triglyceride levels
- LDL cholesterol levels
However, krill oil proves to be more effective even when administered in lower doses than fish oil.
This is just one study, thus more research is required to give a clearer picture of the beneficial effects of krill oil on heart health.
KRILL OIL IS EXPENSIVE - BUT WORTH IT
Krill oil can be up to 10 times more expensive than fish oil because it incorporates expensive extraction and processing methods. Fish oil and other omega-3 supplements are more widely available and easily accessible, making them more affordable.
Fish oil is easier to lay your hands on because it can be extracted from cold water, wild-caught, deep-ocean farmed, or oily fish while krill oil can only be extracted from tiny shrimp-like crustaceans only found in the cold waters of Antarctica.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
IS KRILL OIL BETTER THAN FISH OIL?
It is evident that both fish oil and krill oil play important roles in our bodies. They both contain nutrients that improve and maintain our overall health, our body’s immunity, and brain functionality.
However, the few studies conducted on krill oil prove that it has the edge over its alternative because of its multiple health benefits.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED DOSAGE FOR BOTH OMEGA-3 SUPPLEMENTS?
According to WHO, the recommended daily dose of fish oil and krill oil supplements is 1 to 3 grams for adults.
Higher amounts are not recommended because they have no additional benefits and may increase your risk of serious negative side effects.
The following groups of people should request your doctor to provide medical advice before taking the supplements
- Pregnant women
- People with bleeding disorders or those taking blood thinning medications
- People due for surgery should stop taking omega-3 supplements two weeks before and after surgery because it can prevent blood clotting