Krill oil and fish oil are both popular dietary supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but they have some differences in their composition, sourcing, and potential benefits. If you’re considering taking one of these supplements, it’s worth learning about the differences.
Krill oil is extracted from tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans called krill, which are found in the cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean and other marine regions. You may have heard of them as the preferred food of whales, seals, and sea birds.
Krill oil primarily contains omega-3 fatty acids in the form of phospholipids, specifically phosphatidylcholine. There is some evidence that the body more readily absorbs this form than the triglyceride form found in fish oil.
Krill is considered a more sustainable source of omega-3s as it has a large biomass and a relatively low environmental impact. However, concerns about the ecological impact of krill harvesting exist.
Some people find that krill oil has less of a “fishy” taste than fish oil. However, it also can interact with certain medications, including diabetes medications and anti-coagulants. Be sure to ask your primary care physician about using krill oil if you take prescription medications.
Krill oil tends to be more expensive than fish oil, largely due to the challenges of harvesting krill and extracting oil from these small creatures. It also causes gastrointestinal distress in some people. Last but not least, people who are allergic to shellfish may have allergic reactions to krill oil since it comes from crustaceans.
Fish oil is typically derived from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. Eating this type of fish two or three times a week has been shown to have health benefits, including heart and brain function improvements. People who cannot eat fatty fish can try fish oil supplements instead. However, as Harvard Medical School points out, the evidence for the benefits of fish oil supplements is not as striking as the evidence for the benefits of eating fish.
Fish oil mainly contains omega-3 fatty acids in the form of triglycerides. Some processed fish oil supplements transform the triglycerides into ethyl esters, which may not be absorbed as well.
Fish oil is widely available and comes in various forms, including capsules, liquid, and soft gels, making it more accessible and affordable for most consumers than krill oil.
As with any supplement…
It’s always a good plan to talk with your family doctor before adding a supplement to your routine, especially if you have any existing health concerns.
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