The Definitive Guide to Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: Benefits, Differences, and More

Krill Oil Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids have been gaining significant attention in health and nutrition thanks to their multiple benefits for our overall well-being.

These benefits include reducing the likelihood of stroke and heart attack. 

Their similarities make deciding between krill oil or fish oil supplements difficult when looking at them as sources of these essential nutrients. 

In this post, we will explore what sets each one apart, such as advantages regarding brain function, protecting the heart against inflammation, and how sourcing for krill and fish oil impacts the environment. 

By joining us on this journey on our guide to omega-3s, you will gain an accurate insight into both alternatives: Krill Oil Vs Fish Oil Supplements.

And most importantly, understanding more about the importance of having a balanced amount of fatty acids over your general state of health.

Short Summary

  • Krill oil and fish oil are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, each with unique advantages
  • Krill oil has been found to have a higher bioavailability due to its phospholipid content, improved stability, and longer shelf life
  • Both krill and fish oils offer health benefits such as enhanced brain functioning, heart health support, and anti-inflammatory properties

Krill Oil and Fish Oil: The Basics

Krill oil vs fish oil: A photo of a clear plastic bottle of krill oil supplements laying on a surface.

Both krill oil and fish oil are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, yet their origins, chemical compositions, and absorption rates in the body vary. 

Krill oil is extracted from the Antarctic Euphausia superba, the largest krill species. This species contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as well as astaxanthin, shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and choline in the form of phosphatidylcholine (PC). 

On the other hand, fish oils come from oily sea creatures such as anchovies, tuna, or sardines. The oil or fat is extracted from fish tissue, which is occasionally concentrated to increase its natural DHA and EPA content levels. Concentrated fish oil is more highly absorbable by the body than non-concentrated fish oil, meaning better overall benefits from the supplement. 

Although both types of supplements provide numerous health benefits due to containing these essential long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, there are differences between them regarding bioavailability and antioxidant content. This makes the more costly but attainable krill option better for delivering sufficient nutrients to boost overall well-being.

Krill Oil: From Antarctic Crustaceans

Antarctic krill are tiny yet integral sea creatures filled with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which support brain health and heart function. They also contain a potent antioxidant known as astaxanthin, notable for its reddish pigmentation, and choline, vital for cell performance and neurotransmitter synthesis. 

Krill oil supplements offer an array of vital nutrients that can enhance one’s health and well-being. For example, Sports Research Krill Oil Supplement contains:

  • 1000mg krill oil
  • 240mg omega-3 fatty acids
  • 400mg phospholipids
  • 100mcg astaxanthin

These krill oil supplements are an excellent maneuver in improving one’s day-to-day by

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Providing anti-inflammatory properties
  • Fighting harmful free radicals
  • Offeringantioxidant effects from astaxanthin contained in krill oil
  • Improving memory
  • Helping good gut bacteria

Some studies have discovered that krill oil is better at raising omega-3 levels than fish oil. The differing omega-3 fatty acids found in krill and fish oil may cause this difference between the two supplements. 

Fish Oil: Sourced from Fatty Fish

Fish oil, sourced from oily fish such as anchovies, sardines, and tuna, is high in essential omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA for optimal brain function and cardiac health. They can be found in various concentrations, but most typically are sold with 1,000 mg per recommended serving. 

The distinction between these two products lies mainly in the type of fats present – triglycerides in fish oil versus phospholipids in krill oil. Krill oil contains astaxanthin, while fish oil typically does not. Both offer powerful benefits regarding overall wellness when used effectively. 

Fish and krill oil are great options for individuals looking to increase their intake of vital omega-3s. But if heart health is an important reason you are considering taking either of these supplements, it’s important to note that krill oil improves heart health more than fish oil because of its higher efficiency in reducing LDL, aka “bad cholesterol”. Fish oil is still effective in lowering potential heart disease risk factors, but krill oil is more powerful. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Understanding Their Role in Health

A photo of food items that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The food items include salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and olive oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats containing multiple double bonds crucial for a healthy and balanced diet. 

Research has established that consuming these fats provides many health advantages, including improved mental performance, reduced risk of heart disease, and anti-inflammatory benefits. The three primary essential omega-3s are ALA, EPA, and DHA. Each offers different benefits for our bodies. 

Continuing, we shall investigate the roles played by EPA & DHA. We will also discuss the most advantageous varieties of mind and heart health derived from fish or krill oil. Then we will provide and discuss ALA, a plant-based alternative for vegetarians and vegans. 

EPA and DHA: Essential for Brain and Heart Health

EPA and DHA, two long-chain omega-3 fatty acids necessary for proper cardiac health, can be abundant in fish and krill oil. 

Several weeks of consuming high doses may suppress the body’s inflammatory response, which can benefit individuals with rheumatoid arthritis suffering. But compared to fish oil, krill appears more successful at supporting cognitive abilities and neuroregeneration due to its phospholipids and higher bioavailability levels. 

In this section, we will investigate ALA as an alternate plant-based source offering EPA and DHA alternatives to a diet free of animal products.

ALA: A Plant-Based Alternative

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds, is only converted to the essential EPA and DHA at very low levels– usually not more than 1-21%. 

So although ALA does provide some health advantages, it is a low-advantage alternative compared to consuming fish or krill oil supplements. To get adequate amounts of ALA, one should consider including sources such as flaxseed oil in their diet plan.

For those who follow an entirely vegetarian or vegan lifestyle or have dietary limitations, this option may still represent a valuable alternative to increasing omega-3 intake instead of using traditional krill oil-based supplements.

Comparing Bioavailability: Krill Oil vs Fish Oil

A small bottle of fish oil on a table. Next to the bottle are some oil capsules.

The bioavailability of omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil and fish is an essential factor for assessing their ability to promote general health. 

The bioavailability of krill oil compared to fish oil, thanks mainly to its phospholipid content, is superior. It aids in easier assimilation and usage of vital nutrients by the body to gain the maximum benefits of omega 3s from the supplement.

We will examine why this could be advantageous over other sources and how it can determine the overall effectiveness derived from these two fatty acid oils.

Phospholipid Advantage: Enhanced Absorption of Krill Oil

Krill oil stands out from fish oil due to its distinctive molecular structure of two marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA and DHA, that determine its higher quality of bioavailability. 

Unlike the omega-3 acid ethyl esters, a type of fat, or the triglycerides found in fish oils, 30-65% of krill’s omega-3 fatty acids are composed of phospholipids. This unique makeup allows for easier absorption into the liver, bloodstream, and cell membranes for quicker use of the powerful nutrients by cells and, therefore, faster health benefits for you! 

Oxidation and Stability: Why Krill Oil May Be Superior

Krill oil has demonstrated greater longevity and quality preservation than fish oil due to its higher concentration of astaxanthin and tocopherol, which help prevent oxidation

The longer shelf life gives users a more consistent source for their overall health needs while reducing the likelihood that these products will experience oxidation or rancidity over time.

Health Benefits Showdown: Krill Oil and Fish Oil Compared

Hand holding fish oil bottle with capsule.

Both krill oil and fish oil are great supplements to add to one’s day. They are associated with considerable health benefits due to their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Although evidence suggests that krill oil may provide a slight advantage in heart health, cognitive function, and anti-inflammatory effects compared to fish oils alone, fish oil is still a beneficial supplement that can boost one’s health due to its nutritional value of omega-3s. In light of this information, both types offer potential advantages in these areas and many other beneficial properties related to omega-3 fatty acid consumption. 

Each individual should assess which supplement fits best into their lifestyle goals for optimal results. Consulting with a medical professional before choosing is vital to ensure these supplements will benefit you in the long run with your specific health goals. 

Cognitive Function and Neuroprotection

A 2013 study demonstrated that after twelve weeks, those taking krill achieved the same cognitive performance as those who ingested sardine oil, which was higher in EPA and DHA content. This suggests not only is the intake from both sources beneficial, but krill could offer an even more significant benefit for promoting cognitive function via its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil.

Heart Health and Cholesterol Management

Krill oil has been shown to possess various cardiovascular advantages, such as reducing LDL or “bad” cholesterol, mitigating inflammation, and bettering overall heart health. Studies suggest this marine-sourced fatty acid can reduce LDL levels by 32-39%. Omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil seem useful for lowering triglyceride numbers by more than 10%.

Fish oils benefit the heart but may not be sufficient compared to krill oil’s potency. This comes down to krill oil’s higher efficiency in managing cholesterol and strengthening one’s cardiovascular state. 

The enhanced absorption rate of omega-3 fatty acids found in krill is coupled with its antioxidant content. These qualities further strengthen its extensive support system in establishing a healthy heart to prevent disease or heart attack risk. Yet fish oils are deemed insufficient if we compare their ability against what krill offers regarding these benefits.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

When a person is infected or suffering from an injury, inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect against infection or injury. When inflammation becomes chronic, it can cause health issues like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Omega-3 fatty acids found in krill oil and fish oil have been heavily researched and shown to help reduce pain and soreness and decrease inflammation for people with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Studies frequently show krill oil’s enhanced bioavailability compared to fish oil. It has been heavily suggested that krill oil might do better than ordinary fish oils when fighting against swelling. Its unique composition that establishes its supreme bioavailability makes it a more powerful source of omega-3 fatty acids necessary for supporting overall health and decreasing inflammation compared to fish oil.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

Two people, one holding a capsule bottle and the other pointing to the bottle.

Using krill oil and fish oil supplements can result in many health benefits. It is important to be aware of the side effects they may have. These could include digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. There is also the risk of potential allergic reactions like hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling around facial regions like lips and tongue.

This section provides information about the sensitivities related to these oils and explains how medication taken alongside them could interact with one another, helping you make an educated choice regarding whether taking either supplement will benefit you.

Allergies and Sensitivities

Individuals with an allergy to fish or shellfish should be cautious when taking krill or fish oil supplements, as they may experience a reaction. Speak to a healthcare provider before beginning use and proceed with caution for ingesting either supplement if allergies are a concern. 

Krill oils can be more appealing for those with sensitivities because it is unlikely that consuming them would produce any side effects, such as the often-reported unpleasant aftertaste associated with standard fish and shellfish-related oil intake.

Medication Interactions

When taking krill oil and fish oil supplements, it is essential to consult a healthcare provider as these may interact with certain medications such as blood-thinning drugs like Coumadin or Jantoven (Warfarin). Cyclosporine, etretinate, and topical steroids, in combination with the supplement, could also increase potential side effects. 

Similarly, cholesterol-lowering medication along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs might interfere if taken alongside any of them. Thus, it’s best to seek medical advice before consuming either of the oils mentioned above for safety purposes.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

A photo of clear bulb with a tiny plant growing inside.

When selecting between omega-3 supplements, it is crucial to consider the sustainability of krill and fish oil. 

Although sustainable efforts are made in sourcing krill oil, there is worrisome controversy regarding the disruption of the marine ecosystem. However, it is more sustainable than traditional fish oils and other feed sources with a higher CO2 footprint. 

There are catch limits in place, along with well-managed fisheries that ensure minimal damage to oceanic ecosystems through krill fishing.

In contrast, there are concerns when sourcing from wild-caught fish, as overfishing can lead to environmental degradation. 

Taking this into account alongside examining each supplement’s impact on our environment, we realize how essential eco-friendly choices for health and planet conservation are.

Sustainable Krill Oil Practices

Krill oil is an excellent option for obtaining beneficial omega-3 fatty acids while also being mindful of preserving the ocean ecosystem. Antarctic krill harvesting has an annual capacity of 600,000 tons that cannot be exceeded to preserve sustainable practices and maintain eco-friendliness with certifications from organizations such as MSC and Friends of The Sea. 

With these assurances, it’s easy to see why krill oil would be chosen naturally over other alternatives when considering its generous health benefits and sustainability practices put in place. 

In 2021, Aker BioMarine’s Antarctic krill fishery was recognized through the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), receiving an A-rating due to its commitment to sustainability measures taken into consideration every year. A study also discovered that the fishery was the world’s cleanest, thanks to its low bycatch, receiving approval from CFIA and the FDA. 

Fish Oil and Overfishing Concerns

A photo of a toy boat catching paper fish.

Regarding fish oil sourcing, an issue arises about its environmental impact due to overfishing. This occurs when more fish are taken than what can naturally reproduce in the marine environment, resulting in decreased populations and ecosystem disturbance.

One study suggests that harvesting tiny fish for omega-3 supplements has a ripple effect and creates a less bountiful marine ecosystem. To reduce this influence on nature, we must select certified sustainable fisheries that provide traceable sources and avoid using any endangered species for omega-3 supplements. 

By making informed decisions, not only do we take care of ourselves, but we also help protect the earth’s resources!


Both krill oil and fish oil supplements provide excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Krill oil has greater bioavailability, antioxidants, and more sustainable sourcing methods for superior health benefits than fish oils. These qualities achieved from the best krill oil supplements could benefit cognitive function, heart health, and anti-inflammatory benefits. 

It is vital to consider the side effects associated with taking either supplement or if there are any possible drug interactions before deciding which one suits your needs better. Consulting a healthcare professional beforehand is highly recommended. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is krill oil better for you than regular fish oil?

Krill oil is more helpful in controlling heart health risk factors and is easier for the body to process than regular fish oil. For those with a shellfish allergy, taking krill-based supplements could prove problematic, and they should speak with their doctor before ingesting such oils. 

What are the cons of krill oil?

Krill oil supplementation can lead to unpleasant adverse reactions, including stomach ache and heartburn, to more severe problems like diarrhea or headaches. Taking krill oil may increase the risk of blood loss if you have bleeding disorders, as the supplement slows blood clotting. 

People allergic to seafood should be careful when considering consuming this product since it might cause anaphylaxis or other hypersensitivity responses.

Should I take krill oil and fish oil?

Both krill oil and fish oil are great sources of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. These can help reduce inflammation, decrease cholesterol levels, improve cognitive performance, and lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.

Krill and fish oils contain very similar types of essential fatty acids known to improve overall health in many areas, such as cardiovascular function, vision protection, and immune system strengthening. Taking both these supplements will provide an optimum amount of nutrients for a healthier lifestyle, especially for individuals lacking these nutrients.

What are the benefits of krill oil?

Krill oil, a source of omega-3 fatty acids, can benefit one’s heart health. It can reduce stroke risks and myocardial infarctions by lowering blood pressure levels and triglyceride numbers. 

Krill oil intake might even help alleviate feelings of anxiety as well. These are some advantages that this product carries for its consumers. Beyond these plus points, krill oil also provides other pluses, such as reducing inflammation and supporting joint health. 

What is the main difference between krill oil and fish oil?

Krill oil and fish oil are both sourced from different organisms. Krill oil is obtained from Antarctic krill, while fish oil is made from fatty, oily fish. 

Although they have several common elements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, their composition has distinct differences, such as krill oil’s composition that contains phospholipids and astaxanthin. These components make krill oil much more bioavailable than its counterpart derived from fish and, therefore, much more beneficial as a supplement.

Should krill oil be taken at night?

The benefits of krill oil are typically seen after long-term usage so one specific time of the day isn’t always necessary to see benefits. In fact, we have a whole article on the timing of krill oil supplementation if you want to dive deeper.

Kaelyn Buzzo | ISSA CPT & Nutrition Coach

Kaelyn Buzzo | ISSA CPT & Nutrition Coach

I am an ISSA-certified CPT and Nutrition Coach with a BA in Creative Writing and a Minor in Nutrition.

Learn More About Kaelyn

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