Fish Oil vs Krill Oil - Which One Is Better?

You may have heard of fish oil before as a supplement that can help with overall health, but have you ever heard of krill oil? While both are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (derived from fatty fish and krill in the ocean), there are some significant differences between the two that should be considered before going and buying one, let alone taking one. Like all supplements, they’re meant to be just that, supplementary. A lot of times in our daily diets we don’t get a sufficient amount of the nutrients we need to maintain good health, which is where supplements come in. If you’re looking to improve your heart health, cognitive function, and improve your joint health, you’ve come to the right place to decide which one is better for you — fish oil vs krill oil.

What is Fish Oil

Fish oil is derived from fatty, cold water, oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and trout. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) which actually work to keep the fish warm in cold temp waters. When humans consume these fatty acids, we can receive important nutrients that provide a host of benefits, from heart health to brain function, joint health, reduced inflammation, and so much more. Fatty acids are also a great way to provide quality energy for the body and to reduce systemic inflammation.

It’s recommended that individuals eat fish that contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids 2-3 times per week. However, most people fall short of this goal, meaning they’re missing out on crucial nutrients from their food, like quality omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish Oil vs Krill Oil

What is Krill Oil

Krill oil is derived from shrimp-like crustaceans that are on the bottom of the food chain which is also found in cold waters, especially more towards the Antarctic Ocean. Their main source of food comes from consuming abundant amounts of phytoplankton and zooplankton. These food sources have a ton of micronutrients in them and provide for a very sustainable diet. Similar to fish, krill oil stores omega-3 fatty acids which make krill oil a potent and high-quality source of EPA & DHA.

Both krill oil and fish oil contain essential Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA) Eicosapentaenoic acid and (DHA) Docosahexaenoic acid. Essential nutrients mean that you must get them from food, and regularly get them because your body doesn’t make them naturally. The other method of obtaining these healthy nutrients is through the supplementation of either fish or krill oil.

Should You Supplement With An Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

In general, most likely. Unless you’re eating fish on a weekly basis (2-3 times per week) then a supplement isn’t really necessary. Keep in mind you can also get healthy omega-3 fatty acids from other food groups in your diet like eggs and red meat. That being said, if you’re looking to improve heart health, brain health, joint health, and overall wellness, then a high-quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement with EPA and DHA may be beneficial for your health.

Krill vs Fish Oil

Krill Oil & Astaxanthin

Krill oil can be a better choice than fish oil because it also has an added antioxidant, unique to crustaceans that have a red coloring to them (think krill, crab, lobster, etc.). This antioxidant is called astaxanthin and it’s one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world. As-tax-an-thin is a carotenoid, which helps the build-up of free radicals and delays signs of aging. Since free radicals are attributed to our decay and breakdown as human beings, the more you can slow down this process, the better. This antioxidant also helps with reducing systemic inflammation of the cardiovascular system and improves immune system function by increasing positive cholesterol (HDL). [R]

Omega-3s, Joint Health, and Systemic Inflammation

If you’re an active person or just have achy joints, omega-3s can provide some really great anti-inflammatory benefits in the tendons and joints which can alleviate some of the pressure on the body.

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil - Quality Matters

Follow me here on this - think about a fatty fish in the ocean. You hear about how we’re destroying the ocean all the time with our trash and pollutants. Now think about your body, your fat, and where toxins are stored. Do you know where they’re stored? In your body fat! Fish store toxins in their fat as well, which when harvested and processed, can end up in your fish oil supplement. Yikes. 

A recent Norwegian study showed that 95% of 113 over the counter fish oil capsules were so rancid, that they didn’t even meet official quality standards [R] The oxidative stability of fish oil, when tested at a storage temperature of 20 and 40˚C showed that the Omega-3 content was highly influenced [R]. In another study, 171 North American Fish Oil brands were analyzed for oxidation safety and 50% exceeded the voluntary recommended levels for markers of oxidation [R]

Since krill oil is a crustacean, there’s less fat that accumulates, meaning fewer toxins and micro-particles that get mixed into the end-user product. Krill are 1-6cm in length and live in the clean waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Because their lifespan is also way shorter than a fish, or a salmon, for example, there’s less time to accumulate heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins. 

Krill Oil Sustainability

What About Sustainability?

In 2008, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) set a precautionary catch limit of 5.6-million tons of krill. However, the annual catch only measures 0.3% of the unexploited biomass of krill. Therefore, harvesting krill for krill oil production won’t interfere with the long-term marine ecosystem.

Fish Oil vs Krill Oil - What Are The Benefit Differences

Focusing on the benefits, there are some differences between the two supplements themselves. While fish oil might be cheaper, krill oil is more bioavailable. What does that mean? That your money is going to go further. The omega-3s found in fish oil are bound in triglycerides, which undergo additional digestive processes for them to become available for use in the body. Your body literally has to work harder to digest and absorb them as compared to krill oil. The omega-3s in krill oil are in the form of phospholipids (the same structure found in the cellular membranes of your body) meaning they can be digested and absorbed and used more efficiently and with less effort. Krill oil is absorbed in 2-3 hours as compared to fish oil, which can take anywhere from 48-72 hours, therefore prolonging the benefits associated with inflammation and workout recovery. [R]

Fish Oil vs Krill Oil - Which One Should You Supplement With

All in all, while fish oil might be the more well known and cheaper option, that doesn’t make it the better option. If you’re looking to prioritize your health, reduce bad cholesterol, improve joint health, and overall wellness, then Krill Oil + Astaxanthin is the way to go in our opinion. Ultimately, the biggest thing we want to do here is give you the tools and information you need to make the best decision for your health and wellness. However, if it’s up to us, we’re going to go with the Krill. PS - there’s no ‘fish burps’ with krill oil, now that’s a major win!

The Swole Kitchen - Get Started

THE SWOLE KITCHEN provides 1:1 nutrition coaching, macro coaching, and custom meal plans to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself.

We believe nutrition should be simplified and delicious. We give you the tools you’ve been missing to anticipate and meet your needs on a daily basis. Discover what if feels like to truly love your body and your life with personalized 1:1 nutrition coaching.

Tags: Wellness