It is an undisputed fact that we need to get these fatty acids through our diets. Every expert will agree on that, and for good reason.
Omega-3s have been shown to display a host of benefits: promoting fat loss, improving insulin metabolism, decreasing inflammation in the body, decreasing triglycerides, increasing good (HDL) cholesterol, easing depression, etc. The list of benefits is impressive and well documented.
For years now, fish oil has been the gold standard for omega-3 supplementation. But now, recent research is suggesting that krill oil may be a superior alternative. Is this true?
Unfortunately, you cant believe most of what you read on this topic. The majority of the literature is created by marketers cleverly disguising themselves as doctors, nutritionists, or fitness experts.
I assure you that I have NO affiliation with any fish or krill oil company; therefore, I have no ulterior motives behind writing this post. Instead I just want to give my loyal readers an honest assessment on a topic that is becoming increasingly more confusing (I know this because of the countless emails I have received on this subject).
Quite frankly, I have experimented with both oils on my clients and myself, and I can honestly say that I havent notice a difference between the two (based on body fat analysis and simple blood testing). But since some of the benefits are happening on a cellular level, we need to delve into the research to decipher who the real winner is in this debate.
At first glance, krill oil does seem to have some benefits over fish oil. Ill list these benefits followed by my opinion:
Benefit #1- Krill oil is better absorbed than fish oil. There are several studies that support this. The increased absorption is due to the phospholipid that is bonded to the Omega-3 fatty acids found in krill. You see, our cell membranes are made from phospholipids also, thus allowing krills omegas to make it into our cells very easily.
The Real Deal- Krill oil does, in fact, seem to be better absorbed than fish oil. It is important to note that the increased absorption has only been shown with Neptune Krill Oil (NKO). NKO owns the patent on a technique that gently removes the Omega-3 fats from the krill. This patented process preserves the fragile bond between the fatty acids and the phospholipid. If this bond is broken, the krill oil loses its increased absorption potential.
Unfortunately, most of the krill oil on the market is extracted using cheaper and quality-damaging methods (usually involving heat) that damage this bond very quickly. Research has shown that these inferior krill oil products are garbage. Therefore, dont use any krill oil without NKO on the label.
Benefit #2- Krill oil contains powerful anti-oxidants. The anti-oxidant in krill that has everyone excited is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant. Research has shown that astaxanthin can provide protection against UV-induced skin damage. Also, astaxanthin can help preserve the integrity of the Omega-3s in krill oil by helping to prevent them from turning rancid from oxidation.
The Real Deal- Astaxanthin is a good anti-oxidant. But it certainly isnt a magic bullet. Anti-oxidants such as Vitamin E and C are just as effective. Moreover, fish oil also contains astaxanthin, but in lesser concentrations.
Benefit #3- Krill oil doesnt have a fishy taste or cause fish burps. I think this point is pretty self-explanatory!
The Real Deal- I can attest to this. I have not experienced any fishy taste with a high-quality krill oil supplement. However, high quality fish oil doesnt cause fish burps either. If you are experiencing a fishy taste from your fish oil, your product is either rancid or it is of poor quality. High quality fish oil products add anti-oxidants and lemon oil to help preserve shelf life and prevent that oh-so-memorable rancid taste we all love to hate.
Benefit#4- Krill oil is less polluted than fish oil. Since krill are at the bottom of the food chain and are harvested in the pristine waters of Antarctica, there is less potential for them to contain high levels of mercury, PCBs and other heavy metals.
The Real Deal- This claim makes sense for the reasons listed above. But in regards to purity, I am still more comfortable with high-quality, pharmaceutical grade fish oil. Why? Because good pharmaceutical grade fish oil is molecularly distilled. This process removes any and all pollutants. Then the oil gets third party tested for purity. This multi-step purity process certainly puts my paranoid mind at ease! This distillation process is not performed on krill oil.
The Bottom Line
NKO krill oil appears to be a solid supplement; its increased absorption gives it a clear advantage over fish oil. It’s other “claimed” benefits, however, dont get me all that excited. So should we all switch over to krill oil? Heck, if it gets absorbed better, why not?
But wait…not so fast! When we compare prices, krill oil is FAR more expensive than fish oil. Here are the facts: the leading krill oil product contains just 45mg of EPA and 27mg of DHA per capsule, while the leading fish oil product that contains a relatively whopping 325mg of EPA and 225mg of DHA per capsule.
Even though a higher percentage of the krill oil is absorbed, youre paying almost 8 times the price per milligram! Thats just too much to justify in my opinion. So for now, stick with a high quality, pharmaceutical grade fish oil, such as Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega. Case closed for now.