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What's the difference between fish oil and krill oil?

3 min read

The benefits of fish oil and it's healthy omega-3 fatty acids are widely studied and it a popular supplement choice for the health conscious among us. Recently however, both researchers and consumers are turning their heads towards krill oil. So what's the difference?

Just like fish oil, krill oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids - most importantly Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Omega 3's have been linked to cardiovascular health, healthy cognitive function, joint health and a lot more however krill oil may offer some additional advantages over other marine oils.

There are a number of differences between fish oil and krill oil including the source of the oil used in supplements. the nutrients and the nutritional values within the supplements and how the body absorbs those nutrients.

The two oils come from very different places

Fish oil can come from a variety of fish including anchovies, halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, cod and tuna. The fish used to make the fish oil can either be farmed or wild caught.

Krill, on the other hand, are very tiny little crustaceans similar to shrimp that feed on plankton in the waters of Antarctica.

Krill oil is more bioavailable

Research suggests that although both supplements contain EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, the fatty acids from krill may be absorbed better by our bodies. The omega-3 fatty acids in krill are bound to phospholipids which allows them to be released into the bloodstream and cells at a more efficient rate. This mean, you might be able to take less and still enjoy the same health benefits of fish oil.

Another plus point is krill oil doesn’t cause fishy burps like fish oil. This is because the omega-3s in fish oil are bound to triglycerides (fat molecules) which tend to float on the top of stomach fluids whereas phospholipids disperse in water and blend into stomach fluids which results in no fishy aftertaste. 

Krill oil contains additional nutrients

Krill oil also contains choline, and astaxanthin, the carotenoid antioxidant. Choline is an essential precursor to acetylcholine, a stimulatory neurotransmitter, which is involved in healthy brain function and essential for normal function of all cells.

Astaxanthin is a high-powered antioxidant known for supporting healthy skin, eyes, weight, and brain health. You can read about the health benefits of astaxanthin in a previous article.

Which is better?

Due to the fact that the omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are more accessible for your body to absorb, and that you get a few more nutrients in krill oil it is quickly becoming the most popular source of essential fatty acids. However there are some situations in which fish oil may be a better choice - most importantly, people who are allergic to shellfish shouldn’t take krill oil supplements.

Fish oil may also provide other advantages, including higher total concentrations of DHA and EPA per supplement. Fish oil is usually less expensive than krill oil but it's important to remember that omega-3 fatty acids from krill have better bioavailability therefore your body is able to absorb them more readily than fish oil. So, in other words the lower amount of DHA and EPA in krill oil may be better absorbed than the higher amounts listed in fish oil.

Sustainably and responsibly sourced

Just Vitamins source our Krill Oil from the clean and unpolluted waters of the Antarctic from Aker Biomarine. Sustainability and eco-harvesting is a hugely important factor for this manufacturer. The future of krill as a primary food source is of key importance for the Norwegian economy. The management and sustainable management of krill resources in Norway is supported by WWF-Norway and the krill fishery is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). A large investment is made into ensuring that no harm is done to the ecosystem so that we can continue to benefit from this resource as an rich Omega-3 supplement.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.