Omega-3’s have been making a lot of headlines lately. In 2012, close to 19 million Americans supplemented with Fish Oil, making it the number one natural supplement (1). When it comes to supporting your joints, cardiovascular and cognitive health, nothing compares to Omega-3’s. In fact, The Journal of Clinical Lipidology lists Omega-3’s as one of the main dietary factors for preventable early mortality.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least 8 ounces of fatty fish a week to get your recommended amount of Omega-3’s. But according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2003-2008, only 1 out of 5 Americans consumed enough Omega-3’s.
What exactly are Omega-3s?
Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids, meaning your body can’t produce them, found in a wide variety of foods. However, the most beneficial forms are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) found in fatty fish. Previously, athletes supplemented with fish oils that were derived from cold water oily fish: salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. Lately, a lot of athletes have been choosing to supplement with Krill Oil instead.
Why Krill Oil?
Just like Fish Oil, Krill is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. The shorter lifespans of krill lessen the potential for mercury contamination, PCBs, and other toxins, unlike the longer lifespans of fish which increases the risk of contamination. When comparing Krill Oil to Fish Oil, there are a bunch of other reasons why you’d choose Krill Oil over Fish Oil:
- Krill Oil omega-3’s have a greater bioavailability than fish oil because they are attached to phospholipids which makes it easier for the small intestines to absorb.
- Krill Oil’s variety of DHA is preferred by your brain.
- Krill Oil contains a unique antioxidant Astaxanthin, which is not found in fish oil.
- Krill Oil is sourced from the Southern Hemisphere, a pristine environment, ensuring less potential of toxins and contamination.
- Fish Oil is heavily processed via Molecular Distillation to remove pollutants like mercury and alters composition into an ethyl ester form which are less bioavailable.
- Krill Oil is a more sustainable source than Fish Oil
Is Krill Oil sustainable?
Antarctic Krill, Euphausia superba, are tiny crustaceans found in the Antarctic Ocean. They make up an estimated biomass of around 379 million tonnes, more than the biomass global population of humans, and are viewed as a one of the most sustainable sources of fishing.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) manages the krill Antarctic fisheries and has set a limit of a sustainable harvest at 5.6 million tonnes annually. However, the CCAMLR has a set “trigger” level of 620,000 tonnes that represents approximately 1% of the estimated 60 million tonnes of krill in this region as a precautionary level.
Current krill fishing is far below the limit, around 200,000 tonnes and about .02 percent of the total biomass, less than half of the trigger level. Because of the abundance of Krill, and the tight management of fisheries, Krill is viewed as a more sustainable resource than fish oil.
Don't take our word for it
Listen to Dr. Rhonda Patrick discuss the differences between Krill Oil and Fish Oil in terms of bioavailability and transport into different cells.
Finally, here's an infographic with all the highlights showcasing the differences between these two supplements.
1. 7.8% of U.S. adults (18.8 million) used Fish oil/Omega-3 fatty acids. (2017, September 24). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/natural-products/omega3
2. CCAMLR. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ccamlr.org/en/fisheries/krill-fisheries-and-sustainability
3. Danaei G, Ding EL, Mozaffarian D, Taylor B, Rehm J, Murray CJL, et al. (2009) The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors. PLoS Med 6(4): e1000058. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000058
4. Harris, W. S., Tintle, N. L., Etherton, M. R., & Vasan, R. S. (2018). Erythrocyte long-chain omega-3 fatty acid levels are inversely associated with mortality and with incident cardiovascular disease: The Framingham Heart Study. Journal of Clinical Lipidology. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2018.02.010
5. Papanikolaou Y, Brooks J, Reider C, Fulgoni VL. U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003–2008. Nutrition Journal. 2014;13:31. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-31.