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Fish oil vs. Krill oil

Allergy, Depression, Heart, Asthma, Mental Health, Joint disorders | October 24, 2016 | Author: Naturopath


Fish oil vs. Krill oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of Essential Fatty Acids, or EFAs, for short. These Essential Fatty Acids are so named because they cannot be naturally synthesized or “made” by the human body and should thus be obtained through diet. Anther type of Essential Fatty Acid is the omega-6 fatty acid which is mostly found in vegetable-and seed oils. Omega-9 is a fatty acid too, but is not considered an “essential’ fatty acid as it can be naturally synthesized by the human body from unsaturated fat.

When omega-3 fats are consumed, they are converted into their very base components called EPA and DHA fatty acids. These components are what the body uses to fulfill it's many functions. These EPA and DHA fatty acids are well known for to have exceptional health benefits; they are known to treat and control the most common ailments and health conditions or simply help in providing the body with necessary aids to prevent potential hazards.
These may include:

  • Joint lubrication
  • Heart health
  • Cognitive health
  • Inflammation
  • Hormone regulation
  • Eczema and other skin conditions

While it is always preferalble to source nutrients from natural foods, it is sometimes impossible to meet the daily nutritive requirements from diet alone. This may be true for omega-3 fat, as many fish are unsafe to consume in large enough quantities and are often fed grain-based feeds with soy and corn. This practice results in animal products that are lower in omega-3 contents and higher in omega-6 fats.

Supplementation may be recommended to help meet the body’s needs.

Fish oil has for a long time been hailed as the best source of omega-3 fats as a supplement. Recently, however, in a bid to find solutions to the bio-effects of excessive fishing, krill oil has been researched, tested and formally introduced to the public as the best alternative to fish oil as a source for omega-3 fatty acids. This in turn sparked great debate, divide and even confusion as to whether there is even any difference between fish oil and krill oil and moreover, whether one of these two is a better alternative than the other.

Fish oil is basically oil that is derived from the tissue of oily fish. These fish may include mackerel, tuna, cod liver, herring, salmon and whale blubber fish. Krill, on other hand, is a rather small type of crustaceans of the order of Euphausiacea. Krill occupy a fairly modest position on the food chain as they feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton. Krill do, however, basically run the Earth’s marine ecosystem simply because most fish actually feed on krill.

Although both fish and krill oils can provide an adequate amount of the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, there are quite a few differences in their composition that influence their general effects on the body and its overall health.

Differences between fish oil and krill oil 

Fish oil supplements are generally larger than krill oil supplements. Krill oil supplements also have a deep red-ish coloration whereas fish oil supplements have a clearer color. The coloring may be due to the fact that krill oil contains an antioxidant known as Astaxanthin which gives off a deep red coloration.


Although it is theorized that krill oil cannot be truly tested for oxidation rate as the Astaxanthin content in the krill oil may interfere with results, it is generally suggested by research that krill oil has a relatively short lifespan with oxidation rate between two to three hours compared to fish oil that takes about 48-72 hours before oxidation occurs.


In order to fish oil to be absorbed into the body, it requires that it attaches to triglycerides and only then converted to the EPA and DHA fatty acid components. The result is that approximately 80-85 percent of these acids are simply eliminated in the intestines. Krill oil, however, attaches rather to components called phospholipids which make it easier for the body to absorb.


According to a 2011 study in Frontiers in Genetics that compared the livers of mice that were fed krill oil to those that were fed fish oil over a period of time, it was found that krill oil had a superior metabolic influence on the mice.

Krill oil was shown to enhance the metabolism of glucose, promote the metabolism of lipids, decreases the synthesis of cholesterol whereas fish oil actually has the opposite effect.

Krill oil was also shown to regulate the respiratory chain of mitochondria.

All these are things that fish oil has not been proven to affect in the human body.


In another 2011 study where subjects were given up to 63 percent less krill oil than subject who were given fish oil, the krill oil group still showed the very same levels of EPA and DHA fatty acids in their blood stream. This suggest that krill oil is a much more potent source of omega-3 fats than fish oil – in fact, krill oil is said to be 48 times more potent than fish oil.


Due in part to the ever-increasingly high rate of water pollution, fish have become highly susceptible to contamination by mercury and other heavy metal. This is the reason that consuming large amounts of fish to fulfill the body’s requirement for omega-3 is unsafe to begin with and deems supplementation quite necessary in some instances.

Krill are harvested from much cleaner waters and can be considered much safer to consume in lager quantities given the fact that krill feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton rather than other potentially contaminated fish.


Antarctic krill alone has a biomass of up to 500, 000, 000; far more than humans. Moreover, of this amount of krill, only 1-2 percent is harvested yearly. In conclusion, both of these supplements are in fact very beneficial for overall health, especially for the elderly, those who suffer from heart disease and other common ailments that can be treated with the use of omega-3 supplements.

The fact is that research into fish oil is much more mature than that for krill oil as a dietary supplement. As to whether or not either of these is necessarily a better alternative to the other, makes for quite the open ended discussion.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Tou JC, Jaczynski J, Chen YC. Krill for human consumption: nutritional value and potential health benefits. Nutr Rev. 2007;65:63-77.

Gigliotti JC, Davenport MP, Beamer SK, Tou JC, Jaczynski J. Extraction and characterization of lipids from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). Food Chem2011;125:1028-1036.

Mozaffarian D, Wu JH. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: effects on risk factors, molecular pathways, and clinical events. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;58:2047-2067.

Bunea R, El Farrah K, Deutsch L. Evaluation of the effects of Neptune Krill Oil on the clinical course of hyperlipidemia. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9:420-428.

Tou JC, Altman SN, Gigliotti JC, Benedito VA, Cordonier EL. Different sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids affects apparent digestibility, tissue deposition, and tissue oxidative stability in growing female rats. Lipids Health Dis. 2011;10:179.

Schuchardt JP, Schneider I, Meyer H, Neubronner J, von Schacky C, Hahn A. Incorporation of EPA and DHA into plasma phospholipids in response to different omega-3 fatty acid formulations

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