Krill Oil vs Fish Oil

When you are talking about getting healthy, there are many health professionals who swear by the oil, fish oil that is. Fish oil, which is an oil that is derived from the tissues of oily fish. Known to reduce inflammation throughout the body, along with other health benefits, fish oil is widely used as supplements in the Western World.

While fish oil is very popular, there is another type of oil many are looking to for its health benefits and as an alternative. It is krill oil.

What is Krill Oil

Krill oil, put simply, is oil derived from krill. Unlike fish oil supplements that are made from fatty fish such as sardines and salmon, krill oil comes from small crustaceans that are similar to shrimp. Krill oil has been found to contain a higher concentration of an anti-oxidant called astaxanthin. This comes from the algae that the krill eat, which also gives the krill their red-pink colour. This anti-oxidant has also been found to lower the blood fat in the body, while improving the good cholesterol in the body.

There are several health benefits associated with krill oil:

  • Krill oil has been studied as a way to deal with high cholesterol. In this study at McGill University of 120 individuals, krill oil was found to reduce bad cholesterol by 34 per cent, while increasing good cholesterol by 43.5 per cent compared to the placebo. When compared with fish oil, it reduced bad cholesterol by 4.6 per cent and increased good cholesterol by 4.2 per cent.
  • In dealing with premenstrual syndrome, krill oil was found to improve symptoms but research in this regard is small and more needs to be done.
  • Individuals suffering from arthritis have found that krill oil, given in a dose of 300 milligrams per day, improved their symptoms. In a study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, krill oil was effective in reducing both inflammation and arthritis when compared with a placebo.

How is it similar to fish oil?

The main similarity between these two types of oil is that they both provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids. They are both able to give the body the boost it needs in that regard, but there is a difference in how each impacts the body and how much you get from fish oil and krill oil. Krill oil is extremely rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as other types of helpful acids. These acids can help to reduce the risk of heart attack, and also help treat heart disease. They also benefit the heart by lowering the plasma triglycerides and helping to improve the resting heart rate. There is also evidence that these fatty acids can help deal with blood pressure.

In fish oil, the omega-3 fatty acids are associated with something called triglycerides, while krill oil's omega-3 fatty acids are associated with triglycerides and phospholipids. Both of these digest differently, and there is some evidence to say that fish oil does digest better and more efficiently than krill oil but there is also evidence that states krill oil has more bioavailability than fish oil.

The other main similarity is both are found in the ocean in marine mammals. Many fish oils do come from farmed fish like salmon, while most of the krill oil operations are done in the South Pacific, usually in the Antarctic Region.

Differences between fish oil and krill oil

It is hard to say the main differences between fish oil and krill oil because fish oil has been studied much more than krill oil.

In reality, there is very little difference between krill oil and fish oil, with both providing immense health benefits through the omega-3 fatty acids.

Some say that the body can absorb the omega-3 fats in krill oil much more easily than fish oil because krill oil has phospholipids in them, which allows the krill oil to dissolve in water and that makes it more easily absorbed by the human body. Fish oils, which are attached to triglycerides, are not as dissolvable in water.

In this study at Akershus University (Norway) done in 2011 found that 3 grams of krill oil and 1.8 grams of fish oil raised blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids by the same amount.

Another difference with krill oil is that is believed krill oil contains more astaxanthin, which is an antioxidant that can help the body deal with cholesterol. As was already mentioned, krill oil did perform slightly better than fish oil in the study done at McGill University.

Benefits and side effects

The benefits of both krill oil and fish oil are roughly the same. They will reduce bad cholesterol, improve good cholesterol, deal with fat in the blood, lower the risk of heart attack and improve your heart by reducing the risk of heart disease.

Taking either of these would benefit you, but there is much more scientific evidence on the side of fish oil, with studies still being conducted on krill oil. While those studies do show that krill oil performs better, more work needs to be done.

In terms of side effects of krill oil, the main ones are loose stools, indigestion and diarrhea. People who are allergic to seafood should not use krill oil, nor should anyone with a bleeding disorder.

Fish oil is incredibly popular, with sales reaching $1 billion a year. That being said, there is no routine testing done of marine oil supplements prior to sale. Fish can have toxins in them like mercury, and they can produce peroxides when spoiled. Fish oil has been found to contain certain mercury levels but smaller fish are used in making fish oil, and that means less mercury and mercury binds to meat protein, not oil.

Fish oil overall is safe to ingest as long as you don't overdue it. Some side effects of taking fish oil supplements include bad breath, heartburn, loose stools, nosebleeds, rashes, belching and nausea. If you have fish oil with meals, the side effects are reduced.

You can check here our review of a krill oil supplement.

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The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.