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Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: Which Is Better?

Omega-3 Fish oil like Omax3 Omega-3 Fish Oil surpasses krill in efficacy and sustainability

Decades of research and thousands of clinical studies have confirmed the many health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are a key family of polyunsaturated fats clinically proven to reduce inflammation — the root cause of most health concerns.

Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • reduce triglycerides (i.e. blood fat), manages healthy cholesterol levels and lowers blood pressure.
  • are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for memory, mood balance and behavioral function.
  • relieves joint discomfort and reduces muscle soreness.
  • are called “essential fatty acids” because the human body does not produce it on its own. It must be consumed.

There are three main omega-3s

The health effects of omega-3 fatty acids come mostly from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, and tuna and in krill. Another omega-3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is found in flax seeds, leafy vegetables, vegetable oils and nuts. ALA needs to be converted in the body into EPA and DHA, and many people’s bodies do not make these conversions very effectively.1

Ratios matter!

Scientists affiliated with Yale University have discovered the EPA to DHA ratio that best addresses a variety of health benefits. This “sweet spot” balance of EPA to DHA is 4 to 1, EPA to DHA.

The extraordinary benefits of omega-3 fish oil have been extended to krill without merit.

Krill are small, reddish-colored crustaceans similar in appearance to shrimp. Krill are among the most populous of animal species and serve as the primary food source in oceans worldwide for seals, squid, fish, and seabirds. Commercially, krill are used mainly in the manufacture of fish feeds because of high content of the pigment astaxanthin, which gives salmon their pink color.2

Similar to fish oil, krill oil contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and would appear to be a worthy substitute to fish oil. Appearances, as they say, can be deceiving.

5 Reasons Why Fish Oil is Better Than Krill Oil

What Is Krill Oil?

While many people are familiar with fish oil, few know about krill oil supplements and their benefits. Krill oil is a source of Omega-3 fatty acids sourced from tiny crustaceans known as Antarctica krill. It might interest you to know that Antarctica krill are a staple food for most sea animals such as whales, penguins, seals, and even birds.

Like fish oil, krill oil is rich in DHA and EPA, the two most popular Omega-3 fatty acids. As mentioned earlier, these Omega-3 fatty acids offer various health benefits to the human body. However, it is crucial to note that the fatty acids present in krill oil are structured differently from those contained in fish oil.[1]

Consequently, this influences the way the human body uses them. It might also interest you to know that krill oil looks different from fish oil. While fish oil is renowned for having a shade of yellow, krill oil bears a red color. Krill oil gets this red pigment from a naturally occurring antioxidant known as astaxanthin.

Why Do People Take Krill Oil?

People take krill oil because it contains EPA and DHA, the same Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. However, the Omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are in much smaller amounts than fish oil.

Some studies also show that krill oil, like any other source of Omega-3 fatty acid out there, can help treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, such as stiffness, functional impairment, and pain. Additionally, krill oil can lower the levels of C-reactive protein, a renowned marker for inflammation in the body linked with causing heart disease.[2]

People can use krill oil to ease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome among women. According to other studies, the DHA in krill oil can benefit a developing child’s brain.

Why Do People Take Fish Oil?

There are many people who take fish oil supplements on their own or have gotten recommendations from their health providers to do so. This is because you stand to get a lot of health benefits from these supplements. The following are some health benefits associated with taking fish oil supplements:

  • Support heart health by increasing the levels of good cholesterol in your body.
  • Treat certain mental disorders.
  • Fish oil supplements in combination with exercise and a balanced diet can aid weight loss.
  • Support eye health.
  • Reduce inflammation.
  • Support skin health.
  • Help reduce liver fat.
  • Improve symptoms of depression.
  • Reduce hyperactivity in children.

What’s the Difference Between Fish Oil and Krill Oil?

Even though both fish oil and krill oil are sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, they’re different from each other in several ways. The following are the most significant differences between fish oil and krill oil.

Sourcing

In terms of sourcing, fish oil is primarily extracted from cold-water fatty fish such as salmon, herring, anchovies, halibut, sardines, mackerel and cod. Additionally, fish oil can also be extracted from whale blubber and seal. On the other hand, krill oil is only extracted from Antarctic krill.

EPA, DHA, and Phospholipid Benefit

Fish oil contains higher levels of EPA and DHA at 30% compared to krill oil, which only has 14%. However, the structure of krill oil contains a phospholipid, making it easier for them to be absorbed by the gut.[3]

Is It Better for a Fish Oil or Krill Oil Supplement to Have More DHA or More EPA?

Even though no conclusive research has been done on this matter, some studies indicate that DHA is more important in certain situations while EPA is more important in others. For example, DHA bears more benefits for pregnancy, periodontitis and age-related cognitive decline.

On the other hand, EPA carries more benefits for inflammation-related symptoms. Additionally, equal-dose combinations of EPA and DHA might help with skin, strength training, and maintaining a healthy heart.

Five reasons why fish oil is superior to krill oil as a source of omega-3:

  1. The concentration of DHA and EPA in fish oil is much greater than that of krill oil. While both contain some EPA and DHA, the concentration in fish is much, much greater than that of krill. In fact, it would take about thirty 300mg softgels of krill oil to get the amount of DHA you typically get from two softgel capsules of highly concentrated, molecularly distilled fish oil.
  1. Fish Oil supplementation is more thoroughly studied than krill oil supplementation. Fish oil enjoys decades of scientific research that validates fish oil’s claim that it supports optimal brain, heart, skin, cholesterol, joint health, and nervous system function.Krill oil does not have this extensive clinical history. Further, the safety or efficacy of krill oil in pregnant women and children has not been proven, whereas quality fish oil is proven safe to take during pregnancy (note: consult a physician before starting a fish oil regime).
  2. Krill oil extraction is inefficient and/or of questionable quality. There are two current methodologies to extract krill oil. These include using chemicals that could leave unwanted residue on the end product. The chemicals used in this process are so volatile that it caused a deadly explosion at a krill oil facility in 2012.4   The other extraction method is used onboard catching vessels to process feed-grade and low-quality krill oil and involves first cooking the raw material that is then pressed and the liquids separated and cleaned by centrifuges. Although no solvents are used in this extraction method, the oil yield is low. There are still other krill manufacturers that decline to disclose their extraction procedure altogether, hinting at the possibility that they bypass both methods, resulting in a product is not pure krill oil but rather a mix of several oils that may or may not be marine-based.
  1. Krill is the foundational food source for many animals, including whales, seals, and penguins and other birds. Scientists are concerned about the environmental impact of large-scale krill harvesting. Most krill is harvested from the Antarctic where the krill population is in serious decline due to a combination of factors including human harvesting and warming ocean temperatures. The depletion of the basic building block of the ocean could have devastating negative consequences for the ecosystem of the world’s oceans. Conversely, fish oil can be harvested sustainably from fish that are abundant and further up the food chain. When purchasing a fish oil supplement, be sure to check that the manufacturer subjects itself to sustainable fishing practice audits, run by a third party accredited certification body such as Friend of the Sea, whose mission is the conservation of marine habitat.
  1. Fish Oil is superior when it comes to cardiovascular health. The evidence is so compelling of the power the omega-3 found in fish oil for helping the heart that the American Heart Association recommends 1 gram a day of EPA plus DHA for people with heart disease. Studies have shown fewer heart attacks and fewer heart disease deaths among heart attack survivors who boosted their levels of omega-3.5

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) manages a database of statistics on the global burden of diseases and estimates that 1.4 million coronary heart disease deaths in 2010 were attributable to low intakes of EPA and DHA. – Global Organization For EPA and DHA Omega-3s, 02/03/2015

Takeaway

For a variety of reasons, most Americans do not eat enough of the right kinds of fatty fish to get recommended amounts of omega-3s. Some people are concerned about the toxins, including lead, mercury and PCBs found in fish. Other people do not eat any animal products, while others simply do not like the taste of fish. This is why quality supplementation is so important.

Not all supplements are created equal!

Those who are interested in taking advantage of the documented health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids through supplementation would be well served to look for a quality fish oil supplement that has a high concentration of omega-3 (look for 90% or more), contains the “sweet-spot” ratio of the 4 to 1 EPA to DHA, has been purified to eliminate all toxins, and can verify that it employs ethical, sustainable harvesting methods.  An omega-3 supplement like Omax3 is an excellent option to help reduce your risk of heart disease.

  1. WebMD©. Reviewed by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on May 09, 2014.
  2. Motoyama K, Suma Y, Ishizaki S, et al. Identification of tropomyosins as major allergens in Antarctic krill and mantis shrimp and their amino acid sequence characteristics. Mar Biotechnol (NY). 2008;10:709-718.
  3. University of Maryland Medical Center, Omega-3 fatty acids, last reviewed on 8/5/2015.
  4. Neptune at fault in deadly plant explosion, CSST rules. CBC News. May 8, 2014.
  5. American Heart Association Journals, Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD; William S. Harris, PhD; Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References:
[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21854650/
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18474276/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21042875/

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