Fish Oil vs. Krill Oil: What’s the Difference & Benefits?

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

How many times per week do you eat fish? It’s actually recommended that you consume fish twice per week. Are you meeting those requirements? If not, you’re missing out and should probably consider utilizing a supplement. But there seems to be some confusion between fish oil and krill oil. Which should you go with, what are the differences, and why?

This article will dive deeper into the differences between fish oil and krill oil and the health benefits of each oil.

Why Should You Care About Things Like Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

The American Heart Association recommends eating 2-3 ounces of fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the American population is not a fan of consuming fish.

If you don’t like consuming fish, you’re missing out on some amazing health benefits like omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids provide various health-related benefits like helping reduce cholesterol, promoting heart health, supporting brain health, and more.

However, not many people consume Omega-3 in the required quantity, which doesn’t let them fully experience its benefits. Additionally, most people don’t realize that their brains and hormones require healthy fats in order to be optimized and perform at the highest level possible.

Moreover, your body cannot produce omega-3s on its own. So, it becomes important to include them in your diet whenever possible. Now, when it comes to adding omega-3 fatty acids to your routine, there are two most popular sources — fish oil and krill oil. While both are derived from marine sources, they differ in the types of omega-3s they offer and various other factors.

Both fish oil and krill oil are two popular dietary supplements that are known to have numerous health benefits. This can cause some confusion as most people are unsure which one they should supplement with and which one might be the best choice for their health and lifestyle.

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is the type of oil extracted from the tissues of oily or fatty fish like tuna, sardines, mackerel, and other fish. Also, you may have heard of cod liver oil, which can be obtained from the liver of codfish.

From a nutrient standpoint, fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids — EPA and DHA, which provide various health-related benefits like reducing inflammation and improving heart health.

Fish oil can be taken as a dietary supplement and is available in liquid, capsule, and tablet forms. Here are a few benefits you can experience through the use of fish oil:

  • Reduce the risk of heart attack
  • Help maintain a normal heart rhythm
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Help prevent and minimize depression

What is Krill Oil?

Most people are aware of fish oil, but there is another oil that is equally beneficial — krill oil. It is basically derived from Antarctic krill, which are found in the small crustaceans of the Southern Ocean. Just like fish oil, krill oil contains EPA and DHA. You can also easily consume it as a dietary supplement to reduce inflammation, support heart health, improve brain health, and more.

In terms of looks, fish oil is yellow because of the naturally occurring antioxidant called astaxanthin, whereas krill oil is a bit reddish in color.

Can Your Body Absorb Krill Oil Better Than Fish Oil?

Studies suggest that the body may absorb and use the fatty acids in krill oil more effectively than in fish oil. That’s primarily because the fatty acids in fish oil are found in the form of triglycerides, but in krill oil, they are found in the form of phospholipids — and this is what makes all the difference. This helps increase their absorption and effectiveness of the oil.

As per a study, participants were given either fish oil or krill oil, and the fatty acids level in their blood were measured over the next few days. And guess what? After 72 hours, it was observed that people who took krill oil had higher concentrations of EPA and DHA in their blood.

Another study shows that participants who were given fish oil and two-thirds of krill oil showed increased blood levels of DHA and EPA by the same amount — even though the krill oil dose was less.

According to these studies, it sure looks like krill oil might be the better choice between the two.

Which Contains More Antioxidants? Fish Oil or Krill Oil?

Did you know that antioxidants can help shield your body from oxidative stress? This type of cell damage is caused by molecules referred to as free radicals. But how is it related to fish oil or krill oil?

Krill oil contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin — something that you won’t find in most fish oils, which helps to protect your body.

Research shows that astaxanthin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can provide heart health benefits.

Can Krill Oil Help in Improving Heart Health More Than Fish Oil?

Everyone knows about the benefits of fish oil and how it helps to improve heart health. But studies have shown that krill oil can help to a greater extent.

As per studies, participants with high cholesterol were given either fish oil or krill oil for three months (based on their body weight). Both krill oil and fish oil were found to improve heart-related risk factors.

However, surprisingly, it was found that krill oil was more effective as compared to fish oil in lowering blood sugar levels.

Which Oil is Less Expensive and More Accessible?

Fish oil is by far more accessible and less expensive than krill oil.

Krill oil provides more benefits than fish oil and comes with a higher price tag. It is primarily because of the harvesting and processing method that krill oil is around 10 times more expensive than fish oil.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Both fish oil and krill oil are beneficial. However, if money wasn’t an option, krill oil can provide you with more health benefits and is still easily absorbed by the body.

So, if you are willing to spend a few extra bucks and look for a retailer that sells it, you should definitely consider picking up some krill oil.