Krill oil vs fish oil: Which one does your body really need?

Few dietary supplement competitors have generated as much discussion and interest as krill oil and fish oil. 

These oils, rich in strong omega-3 fatty acids, have drawn interest for their possible health advantages. But which one dominates the race for omega-3 supremacy? 

We’re taking a deep dive into the world of krill and fish oil with us as we explore their differences and advantages and guide you toward making the best decision for your health. 

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are important polyunsaturated fats crucial in promoting human health. As the body cannot produce these fats, consuming them through food or supplements is necessary.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the three primary subtypes of omega-3 fatty acids.

Types of omega-3 fatty acids
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Types of omega-3 fatty acids

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

Plant-based foods, including flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, are good sources of ALA. Although the conversion rate is constrained, our body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA.

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

Fish high in fat, like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, have the most EPA. It has a reputation for being anti-inflammatory and is essential for maintaining heart and brain function.

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Additionally prevalent in fatty fish, DHA is crucial for brain health, cognitive growth, and the preservation of good vision.

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Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

Here are some of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:

1. Improves cardiovascular health

Omega-3 fatty acids have been the subject of much research for their beneficial effects on heart health. 

They assist in lowering blood pressure, lipid levels, the risk of irregular heartbeats and general heart health. 

This can lower the risk of developing heart disease, having a heart attack and having a stroke [1].

2. Boosts brain and cognitive health

DHA, one of the main omega-3 fatty acids in the brain, is crucial for healthy brain growth and operation at all ages. It promotes memory, emotional stability and cognitive function. 

Omega-3 fatty acids may also decrease the risk of age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.

3. Reduces inflammation

EPA is advantageous for lowering inflammation since it has strong anti-inflammatory capabilities. 

As it may help relieve joint discomfort and enhance joint mobility, this can be especially beneficial for those with disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other inflammatory joint diseases.

4. Promotes eye health

The retina, the eye area responsible for vision, has a significant amount of DHA. 

A healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, promotes eye health and may help older persons avoid age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of vision loss [2].

5. Increases skin hydration

Omega-3 fatty acids aid the skin’s health and integrity. They increase suppleness, lessen irritation and retain skin hydration. 

By easing symptoms and fostering better skin, omega-3s may be helpful for those with skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis and acne.

6. Other potential health benefits

Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are being investigated for their possible involvement in lowering the risk of some malignancies, boosting immune system performance, encouraging favorable pregnancy outcomes and enhancing general well-being.

Exploring krill oil

A dietary supplement known as krill oil is made from the small, shrimp-like sea organisms known as krill. 

It has grown in popularity as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA. Here is a closer examination of krill oil, covering its production method, origin and nutritional profile:

What is krill oil?

Small, shrimp-like crustaceans known as krill are used to make krill oil.  Krill may be found in waters all over the world. The marine food chain is greatly dependent on these microscopic creatures.

As a nutritional supplement, krill oil is offered and is well-known for its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, notably EPA and DHA. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids, astaxanthin (a powerful antioxidant), and other minerals can be found in krill oil.

Extraction process and source

Solvent or cold-press extraction is commonly used to extract krill oil, which helps maintain the integrity of the omega-3 fatty acids. The Southern Ocean, which includes places like Antarctica, is the primary source of krill for oil extraction.

It is significant to highlight that maintaining the equilibrium of the marine ecosystem requires sustainable harvesting methods.

Nutritional composition of krill oil

Both EPA and DHA are abundant in krill oil, and because they are found in phospholipid form, they are easily absorbed.  Compared to fish oil, this may increase their bioavailability.

Phospholipids are necessary for cell membrane construction and operation and are found in krill oil. Astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant found naturally in krill oil, has several health advantages, including improving cardiovascular health and lowering oxidative stress.

Exploring fish oil

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, especially EPA and DHA, make it a popular nutritional supplement. 

Let’s go deeper into the origins, variations and nutritional makeup of fish oil.

What is fish oil?

The tissues of fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon and mahi-mahi are used to make fish oil.  These fish are renowned for having high omega-3 fatty acid concentrations.

It is handy for supplementing since it is offered in various forms, including liquid oil, soft gel capsules and emulsions.

Sources and varieties of fish oil

  • Fatty fish 

Omega-3-rich fatty fish are the main source of fish oil derived from them. Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring, and sardines are typical sources.

  • Other marine sources

In addition to fish oil, certain supplements may contain oils from krill, algae, or fish liver (like cod liver oil).

Nutritional composition of fish oil

  • Omega-3 fatty acids

The two most crucial omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are in large quantities in fish oil. There are several health advantages to these fatty acids.

  • Triglycerides

The most prevalent type of fat present in the body and the main component of fish oil.

  • Vitamin D

Some fish oils, especially those made from fish liver, may include vitamin D, which is important for immunological and bone health.

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Bioavailability and absorption of krill oil vs fish oil

The efficacy of omega-3 supplements is greatly influenced by bioavailability and absorption

Let’s examine how krill oil and fish oil vary in terms of bioavailability and absorption:

Bioavailability of krill oil

The phospholipids included in krill oil are structurally related to the cell membranes in our bodies and are a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Since phospholipids are thought to be easier for the body to absorb than the triglyceride form of fish oil, including phospholipids in krill oil may increase its bioavailability.

It is believed that the phospholipid composition of krill oil makes it easier for omega-3 fatty acids to penetrate cell membranes, improving absorption.

Bioavailability of fish oil

The majority of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are found as triglycerides, which must first be broken down by digestive enzymes to be absorbed.

Triglycerides may have a lower bioavailability than krill oil due to the breakdown process [3].

Fish oil is still regarded as having a high overall bioavailability and is a well-liked source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Absorption differences
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Absorption differences

Both krill oil and fish oil include omega-3 fatty acids that different people can absorb differently depending on their digestive systems and general health.

According to some research, the phospholipid form of omega-3s found in krill oil may lead to more effective absorption, resulting in greater blood levels of EPA and DHA than those found in fish oil.

To properly comprehend and quantify the variations in absorption between these two categories of omega-3 supplements, additional study is nonetheless required.

Omega-3 content and EPA/DHA ratio of krill oil vs fish oil

When comparing krill oil with fish oil, it’s crucial to take into account the omega-3 concentration as well as the proportion of EPA to DHA. 

Let’s examine the EPA/DHA ratio and omega-3 content of these two supplements:

Omega-3 content in krill oil

EPA and DHA are two of the several omega-3 fatty acids found in krill oil. Varied krill oil supplement brands and formulations might have varied amounts of omega-3 in their products.

Different brands and formulations of krill oil supplements might have varying amounts of omega-3. Each serving of krill oil supplements usually contains 200–300 mg of combined EPA and DHA [4].

Omega-3 content in fish oil

EPA and DHA comprise most of fish oil’s important omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements may or may not include omega-3 fatty acids depending on the source and formulation.

Compared to krill oil, a conventional fish oil supplement frequently has a greater concentration of EPA and DHA, with typical dosage sizes of 500 mg to 1000 mg.

EPA/DHA Ratio: krill oil vs. fish oil

Krill oil has a different EPA/DHA ratio than fish oil. The EPA/DHA ratio in krill oil is approximately 2:1, with a larger concentration of EPA.

Contrarily, the EPA to DHA ratio in fish oil varies based on the particular fish species used to extract it, making it typically more balanced.

It’s crucial to remember that while the EPA/DHA ratio and omega-3 content are critical considerations, not every person will have the same ideal ratio for their particular health objectives. 

Some people could benefit from a higher EPA level, while others would place more importance on DHA.  Based on individual health requirements, consulting a healthcare expert might assist in deciding the best omega-3 supplementation.


The omega-3 fatty acid composition of both supplements makes it clear that they both offer considerable health advantages after examining the distinctions between krill oil and fish oil. 

The phospholipid version of krill oil stands out because it may improve bioavailability, but fish oil has a greater content of EPA and DHA.

Individual tastes, dietary constraints, and health objectives must all be considered when deciding between krill and fish oil. 

A healthcare professional’s advice can be customized depending on your unique requirements.


What is krill oil best for?

Krill oil is best known for its potential benefits in supporting cardiovascular health, promoting brain function, and improving joint health.

Is it safe to take krill oil every day?

Yes, it is generally considered safe to take krill oil daily when consumed at the recommended dosage. 

Is krill oil more effective than fish oil?

Both krill oil and fish oil offer health benefits due to their omega-3 content, but individual responses may vary. Factors such as personal health goals, preferences, and considerations should be taken into account when choosing between the two

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Photograph: traimakivan/Envato
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.