We are told from a young age that fish oil is one of the most important supplements to take. Things were very basic back then, and it was usually just cod liver oil that was recommended.
Nowadays, we have so much choice and it can be difficult to know which option is best for you. Have you been taking regular cod liver oil or Omega 3 but now have heard that Krill Oil is better, more potent and proven to have better results? Or do you stick to what you know and continue with some good old fashioned fish oil?
Well, I’ve done some research for you, so you can make a much more informed decision!
EPA and DHA Explained
EPA and DHA are “essential” fatty acids, this means we cannot produce them naturally in the body and must obtain them from our diet. We can get them from food or by taking supplements, and it’s important to do so as they are essential for brain and body function.
All Fish oil includes both EPA and DHA in the formulas, whether that's Omega 3 oils, Cod Liver Oils or Krill Oils, which means there is no need to purchase separate supplements to get the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. That being said, they are different in some ways, and we will go into that shortly.
EFAs are necessary for the following processes :
- Healthy cell membrane formation
- Hormone production
- Development and functioning of the brain and nervous system
- Regulation of blood pressure, liver function, immune and inflammatory responses
- Thyroid and adrenal activity
- Breakdown and transport cholesterol
- Support for healthy skin and hair
Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil
Where they come from
- Fish Oil: Extracted from oily cold water, deep ocean farmed or wild caught fish. Types of fish usually include-herring, salmon, mackerel and sardines.
- Krill Oil: From krill a miniature crustacean/shrimp like creature usually found in the clear waters of Antarctica.
In an article by Brad Sly for Breaking Muscle, he takes a look at Krill and Fish Oil and explains that:
"Even though krill contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which makes up about 0.2% of the oil by weight, rapid decomposition of the krill happens in only two to three hours. Fish oil has a significantly longer life of about 48-72 hours before decomposition and oxidation begin to occur. This allows much more time for processing."
In other words, Krill Oil is always going to be a more fresh and pure option when it comes to fish oil. But let's take a deeper look at the benefits of each.
The main selling point for krill oil is it’s a superior source of EPA and DHA. This is down to the polyunsaturated fats packaged as phospholipids, which can be absorbed by the body as quickly as possible.
Krill oil is also more stable because it includes astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, that protects the fragile fats from oxidising.  With the absorption rate so high with krill oil it means less capsules need to be taken to get the desired health benefits.
With fish oil you may need to take four to six capsules a day, whereas, with krill oil, it’s only one to two capsules for the same effect. It’s also said that krill oil is a safer and cleaner product because it is sourced from less contaminated waters.
A drawback of krill oil is the cost. It costs more to harvest and process krill and that cost gets passed onto consumers. A krill oil supplement can even cost double the cost of fish oils.
In general, there is vastly more research pointing to the benefits of fish oil supplements than specifically Krill Oil. That's not to say fish oil is better however, as the research usually studies the important EPA and DHA fatty acids mentioned before.
The amount of overall Omega 3 fatty acid content within fish oil is greater than that derived from krill oil, as usually the serving size is bigger. The primary reason most people take krill or fish oil is to increase their dietary omega-3 fatty acids. So, in regards to omega-3 content, fish oil would be higher.
It is however very important to take the highest quality of fish oils available to you. With cheaper knock-offs there is the risk of contamination, rancidity and oxidation. This risk if these negative effects is lower in krill oil due to the due to the protection from the “antioxidant” astaxanthin.
It’s hard to compare the two...
The bottom line on the Krill Oil vs Fish Oil debate is that both are great. It is a matter of preference and as long as you always choose the purest, highest quality you will get the results you’re after!
The fact of the matter is that if you are looking to increase your intake of omega 3, you are on the right track with either, but the main difference is simply in the quality, although generally you pay more for Krill Oil than Omega 3's.
Omega 3 Refresh
Omega 3s aid circulation by thinning the blood, fight systemic inflammation, support brain function and ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and even ADHD. Both Krill and Omega 3 supplements are great sources of Omega 3 oils EPA and DHA.
So how much should you take?
Mark Sisson says that the estimates vary, but experts usually see ratios in Western diets as anywhere between 10-30 parts omega-6 to 1 part omega-3 (10-30:1) . What we actually should be aiming for is a lot closer to our primal ancestors of a ratio of 1:1.
Many in the establishment will try to tell you that 4:1 is good enough, but those who lead a Primal lifestyle know that increasing your Omega 6 to 3 ratios will improve performance and health vastly.