We’re always being told that we should take certain vitamin supplements, to give us a better shot at overall health and wellbeing. Due to the sheer amount of those products on the market, it can be very difficult to figure out which ones are worth it, and which one’s aren’t. If you’re keen on a fish oil supplement (always a good idea), then which one is best? Krill oil vs fish oil?
Health-related subjects can sometimes be very confusing, especially when you’re keen to find the ideal product to give you the best boost for your health in general. Reading up and researching is the only way to really know, as well as talking to your doctor for extra, reliable advice. If you’re very keen on taking an omega 3 supplement, then you need to find out more about these two types of oils.
Let’s explore this subject in more detail, to help you out.
Why Should You Take An Omega 3 Supplement?
- Why Should You Take An Omega 3 Supplement?
- What is Fish Oil?
- What is Krill Oil?
- Let’s Compare – Krill Oil Vs Fish Oil
- Krill Oil is Easier to Digest Than Fish Oil
- Krill Oil Contains Astaxanthin, a Powerful Antioxidant
- Krill Oil May be Better at Preventing Heart Issues Than Fish Oil
- Fish Oil Costs Less, And is Easier to Find
- The Choice Is Yours!
- Speak to Your Doctor
- Finding Your Ideal Supplement
Whilst krill oil isn’t necessarily a fish oil (more on that shortly), it does a very similar thing. Basically, both fish oil and krill oil are derived from animals which live in the sea. Within these animals is a naturally occurring oil which is packed with very useful essential fatty acids for the human body. These are called omega 3 acids.
You will no doubt have heard of these countless times before, as they’re extremely popular, and for good reason.
There are two types of omega 3 fatty acids which we need for our health and wellbeing, namely EPA and DHA. These have a range of benefits, but they also help with heart health, as well as brain function too.
If you avoid receiving your amount of omega 3 acids, you’re going to not only miss out on these benefits, but you might also find yourself in poorer health overall.
You can get a good amount of omega 3 from eating fish on a regular basis, however not everyone finds that easy, and it’s not every type of fish that’s useful in this regard.
Many people have allergies to seafood, whilst some people simply don’t like it. If that’s the case, a supplement is a good option. But krill oil vs fish oil – how can you decide?
We need to know what each one is before we can really compare the two, and find out whether one really is better than the other, and to what extent.
What is Fish Oil?
Fish oil comes from fatty types of fish which are commonly found, e.g. anchovies, salmon, and mackerel. Again, not everyone likes these types of fish, which is why supplements are so popular.
The downside of this is that the capsules you take are generally quite large, and when you swallow them, there is a quite fishy after-taste which occurs. This is the famous downside of taking fish oil supplements!
Despite that, these capsules do give you a good amount of omega 3 fats, and that’s worth the fishy after-taste, taking into account the bigger picture.
What is Krill Oil?
Krill oil is a new kid on the block in many ways, and it is being marketed as not only an alternative to fish oil, but also as a product which could actually be better for you. There are pros and cons to each, so it’s a personal decision in terms of which you opt for, taking into account all the information you research.
Krill oil is derived from a very small crustacean, called Antarctic Krill. Extremely small, penguins, whales, seals, and some kinds of birds find them quite tasty, but they are extremely abundant, so there are no worries about sustainability.
The downside is that the harvesting process is quite complicated, therefore the cost of supplements can be higher as a result.
One major benefit of krill oil is that it’s a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, and is high in EPA and DHA, just as fish oil is. The difference between the two is that krill oil’s omega 3s are slightly different in how they are structured. This makes them easier to digest, according to studies.
In addition, krill oil also contains a powerful antioxidant, called astaxanthin. This means you’re getting a two for one benefit.
Let’s Compare – Krill Oil Vs Fish Oil
Now we know what each oil is, and we know that they’re both beneficial, let’s pit them against each other and see which one comes out the winner.
Krill Oil is Easier to Digest Than Fish Oil
We just mentioned that krill oil is thought to be much easier to digest than fish oil is. The reason for this is the structure of the oil, and that affects the way in which the body absorbs it. Fish oil’s fatty acids are stored in triglycerides.
Krill oil’s fatty acids are stored in phospholipids and it has a higher proportion of free fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA. In general, phospholipids are easier to digest and absorb than triglycerides. A recent study showed that krill oil was quicker to absorb, compared to fish oil, and therefore this means that the benefits are delivered faster as a result.
Despite this study, and many others, further research needs to be done to really establish the concrete proof of this claim, and to show just how krill oil is absorbed in a faster manner.
Krill Oil Contains Astaxanthin, a Powerful Antioxidant
Antioxidants are vital for the smooth functioning of our bodies, and our immune systems. Antioxidants help to prevent damage to cells from free radicals, gives our entire immune system a boost, and may even help with anti ageing. Krill oil contains astaxanthin, but fish oil does not. Yes, you’re getting a good dose of omega 3 acids from taking fish oil, but you’re not getting any additional antioxidant content, like you are if you take krill oil.
It is thought that astaxanthin also plays a part in helping to keep krill oil fresher for longer, i.e. products have a longer shelf life, due to preventing fatty acids oxidisation. More research needs to go into this, to proof this as a definite fact. Astaxanthin however does have some heart health benefits to take into account, and may help to lower cholesterol, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Krill Oil May be Better at Preventing Heart Issues Than Fish Oil
Omega 3 acids play a part in ensuring good heart health, when combined with a healthy lifestyle in general. Some studies have suggested that krill oil might be more beneficial than fish oil in this regard. This all revolves around cholesterol control, which has a direct impact on how healthy the heart is. Within this study, krill oil had greater benefit than fish oil at lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
Despite that, further studies need to be done to ascertain the exact level of benefit, and how indeed these supplements really do affect cholesterol levels in general.
Fish Oil Costs Less, And is Easier to Find
Whilst krill oil is abundant worldwide, it is more expensive than fish oil products, and you can’t find it as easily in health stores. You will almost certainly be able to find fish oil supplements in any health store, but you may not be able to easily find krill oil supplements. If you do, the higher cost might cause you to think twice.
The reason for this cost is the harvesting process, which is more complicated than it is for fish oil, thus driving up the cost of the product itself. Shopping around could help you out here, but you will find a higher price generally.
The Choice Is Yours!
Whichever you go for krill oil vs fish oil, it’s important to think about taking one of these products at the very least. Omega 3 fats are so important for health and wellbeing, and if you don’t eat fish on a regular basis, which many people don’t, then it can be very hard to get your daily intake from anywhere else.
Supplements are therefore a much easier way to ensure that you get your daily amount, but finding the right product for you can be a time consuming task.
Talk to your doctor about any supplement you’re planning on taking, just to be sure that these are right for you.
Most people find the downside of fish oil capsules and supplements it that they are larger, and when you swallow them, they can sometimes cause a feeling of being ‘stuck’, indigestion, and that famous fishy after-taste that is really quite unpleasant.
The key is to swallow it quickly, with plenty of water! You should however always read the label in terms how often to take them, when to take them, and how to take them, as products do vary.
Krill oil on the other hand is much easier to take, because the capsules are typically smaller, and therefore easier to swallow. You also won’t get that fishy after-taste, once you’ve swallowed the supplement.
There is a lot of suggestion that krill oil is more beneficial, because it is easier to digest and absorb, but more research really needs to go into this before a solid conclusion can be reached.
The fact remains that you might want to take krill oil, but the price and lack of availability in your area could make it more likely that you opt for fish oil instead.
Remember, if you choose to order your omega 3 supplement online, you should shop around very carefully beforehand. We’ll cover that in a little more detail shortly.
Speak to Your Doctor
We’ve mentioned about taking to your doctor about taking supplements, but we really need to highlight a potential issue with these fish oil supplements, making this even more important.
Whilst fish oil supplements, and krill oil supplements are generally safe for the majority of people, there are some exceptions. For instance, if you are taking any medications to thin your blood, both fish oil and krill oil could affect this, because they might also affect the clotting factors in your blood.
In addition, if you have any allergies to shellfish, or any type of seafood, including regular fish products, speak to your doctor before deciding upon taking either krill oil or fish oil.
Finding Your Ideal Supplement
If you’re given the green light to go ahead and take an omega 3 supplement, you first need to decide whether you’re going to choose krill oil or fish oil products. As we’ve mentioned, the cost and availability might make that decision for you, but you will be able to shop quite freely online, if it is availability that is the issue.
When you’re shopping for your supplement, always read reviews very carefully, and do your homework before making your decision. If you’re still unsure, have a chat with your doctor and see what they suggest for you. Not every product is the same, and unfortunately, some are lower in quality.
In addition, it could be that on your shortlist, every product has a different instruction on how to take the supplements. Again, there is no real regulation on dosage, so it comes down the instructions on the packet or the bottle, in terms of what to do with that particular product.
If you’re in doubt, you check out our article roundup on the best krill oil supplements here.
There is no real and clear winner in terms of krill oil vs fish oil, as they are both fantastic options for your health and welling. As we mentioned, there are suggestions that krill oil might just pip fish oil to the post on digestibility and several other benefits, but these are not 100% proven just yet, and more research is ongoing in that regard.
It could very well come down to cost for most people, and if that is the case, fish oil is going to win out. Sometimes, krill oil can be up to ten times more expensive than regular fish oil products, and that’s a large investment in something you could find cheaper in a different form, with similar benefits.
Paula graduated from medical School of the Universidad Central de Venezuela. She is a qualified gynaecologist and human reproductive biologist. She is currently a professor of gynaecology and oncology (Sociedad de Obstetricia y Ginecología) in Venezuela. You can connect with Dr Paula via Linkedin here.