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Fish Oil Vs Krill Oil: What’s The Difference?
Which one is more superior – krill oil or fish oil? Krill oil and fish oil both contain the healthy essential fatty acid omega-3 DHA and EPA.
Krill oil is the newcomer on the omega-3 supplement market. It claims to be a higher potency and a more bioavailable- sourced product than conventional fish oil, the cheaper alternative. But when we get down to it, what’s the difference between these popular talked about super supplements?
Let me break it down and see what’s made krill oil versus fish oil such a hot debate.
Krill Oil Versus Fish Oil
Starting with the basics: what is krill oil and what is fish oil? Then read on to know the surprising benefits of these popular omega-3 supplements.
#1 Krill Oil
It may be a bit obvious, but krill oil comes from krill. Krill is a tiny red-orange colored, shrimplike crustacean that’s primarily harvested from the Antarctic ocean.
Krill oil is a great source of both omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The concentration of EPA and DHA in krill oil is lower than found in fish oil.
These omega-3 fatty acids are in phospholipid form. This makes it is easier for the body to absorb and release into the cells walls more efficiently. This means that you can take a smaller dosage of krill oil to reap the same health benefits compared to fish oil.
This supplement also contains Vitamins A, D, and E as well as astaxanthin – a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are you best friend to help reduce damage by toxins and free radicals and to help the body defend itself against dangerous pathogens that may lead to disease.
#2 Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements come from the tissues of oily cold-water fish such as herring, mackerel, and salmon. Again, they contain a healthy dose of the two omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, usually in triglyceride (TG) form. The quantity of EPA and DHA are higher than in krill oil, but not as easily absorbed by the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have been consumed for many health benefits. Our bodies do not produce this essential fatty acid and many people have a diet low in omega-3’s.
We have to mention sustainability; it’s such an area of discussion as over-fishing is unbalancing an already delicate ocean ecosystem. So how does krill fit into this scenario?
The Antarctic krill quantities in the ocean are huge, an estimated biomass of 379-million tons. The annual catch is less than 0.3% and regulated by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). 1
Whereas the fish population is already a known diminishing quantity. Largely due to past history of over-fishing quotas up to 30% more than scientifically recommended.
Since the 1980’s, fish oils are regulated by The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to assure sustainably sourced products and supporting and maintaining healthy oceans. 2
Krill oil is more expensive than fish oil and might seem like a luxury supplement. More often than not, you get what you pay for, and quality oil is more costly than cheaper alternatives.
The price difference is due to the manufacturing process. Krill oil has a short time period before rapid decomposition. Fish oil has longer life prior to oxidation occurring, and this means more time for processing in the manufacturing process.
Daily recommendation dosage for general health of omega-3 fatty acids is 1 gram. Most fish oil and krill oil supplements are sold in ranges of 500 mg to 2000 mg. 3
Fish oil supplement dosage varies depending on which condition you are using it for, according to WebMD. Krill oil supplements have no formal guidelines as yet so follow the recommended dosage on the product label. 4
There are many claims that fish oil supplements carry toxins such as mercury and PCBs and krill oil is less likely to contain contaminants. Being at the bottom of the food chain, it seems logical that this statement is true for krill oil.
Although a study in 2014, comparing fish oil and Antarctic krill oil profiles, showed krill oils contained medium levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 5
Although there are consumer concerns over fish oil supplements containing toxins, by purchasing fish oil from a high quality certified supplier, this can be avoided. Certified brands are rigorously tested to assure the consumer purchases a quality product that’s ethical too.
Benefits of Krill Oil Over Fish Oil
In general, omega-3 (DHA and EPA) essential fatty acids have been extensively studied and proven to benefit both physical and mental health.
Krill oil supplement is marketed as having the same benefits to our health as fish oil supplements. Fish oils have been researched for over half a decade and shown potential or proven to have numerous health benefits.
What has scientific research shown about the potential benefits of both fish oil and krill oil? Here is a brief look at some comparisons.
- Cardiovascular Health – The omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements have proven to be effective for cardiovascular health. Initial studies on the effectiveness of krill oil appear promising at delivering omega-3s to the body, but cardiovascular benefits are unproven. 6 7
- Cholesterol – The triglyceride-lowering properties of fish oil supplements have been researched and shown reduction by 20 to 50% over a short period of time. Krill oil studies also showed it too can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides levels.8 9
- Arthritis – Fish oil was shown to be a safer alternative than NSAIDs in reducing arthritic pain. A study suggested that krill oil was a potential useful for inflammatory arthritis. Another controlled study of Neptune Krill Oil showed a significant reduction in arthritic symptoms over a 7 – 14 day treatment. 10 11 12
- Maintaining Cognitive Function – Studies show fish oil is a good omega-3 supplement to take to reduce cognitive decline. To date, no research is shown for krill oil. 13
- Premenstrual syndrome (dysmenorrhea) – Trials using fish oil supplements to relieve the symptoms of period pain outcome was a positive. Another study showed that krill oil was more beneficial than fish oil for subjects suffering premenstrual syndrome. 14 15
- Dry eye disease – Outcome in a recent clinical trial concluded that both fish oil and krill oil were beneficial, with krill oil having more therapeutic benefits. 16
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Fish oil supplement has shown to offer significant specific improvement in behavior. Krill oil’s omega-3 PS fatty acids have not been individually researched for ADHD to date, but Omega-3 PS has been shown to alleviate ADHD symptoms. 17 18
Which Supplement is Better?
Fish oil supplements appear the clear winner. Not only a more cost effective supplement, the body of research proves the effective health values.
But, let’s consider all of the facts. To be fair, the newcomer krill oil has not had many clinical trials for a true comparison to be made. Krill oil’s omega-3 fatty acids being in phospholipid form is perhaps the key to its potential.
The physical properties of phospholipids mean they can dissolve in water, allowing easier absorption by the body’s cells. Therefore, a smaller dose of krill oil omega-3’s may be equal to a higher concentration found in fish oil. 19
The whole point of supplementing with fish oil or krill oil is to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. There is a place in the supplement market for another alternative omega-3 (DHA and EPA) supplement and krill oil seems to be holding its own!
With krill oil supplements containing antioxidants and being more bioavailable than fish oil, it may seem a slightly better choice. But it is more expensive and lacks scientific backup compared to fish oil. With more clinical studies and trials, krill oil supplements may prove more effective than fish oil – we wait to see.
The bottom line is the debate is still on as to which of these to omega-3 fatty acid supplements is superior in quality and health benefits.
This is our guide to fish oil. Check out our other installments:
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