Is Krill Oil the Same As Fish Oil: 7 Surprising Facts

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: Are They The Same?


When choosing between supplements, you want to make the right choice with the most benefits. Both krill oil and fish oil supplements have high omega-3 content, and although they are very similar, they differ in some significant ways. Understanding how krill oil compares to fish oil can help you make better decisions as a consumer and choose a supplement that will best serve your needs.

iwi life is happy to help provide you with the information you need to understand how the two dietary supplements compare.

What Is Krill Oil?

Despite being less popular than fish oil, krill oil is another source of omega-3s and may offer other additional benefits. Krill oil is made from a small type of crustacean. Krill do not produce omega-3 themselves, but their bodies contain a high amount because of the algae and phytoplankton krill eat, which are high in omega-3.

These tiny sea creatures resemble shrimp and are found throughout the world’s oceans, eating algae to survive. Because they’re positioned toward the bottom of their food chain, krill serve as a food source for whales, penguins, and other fish.

Krill are rich in two important forms of omega-3s, giving them several health benefits. Krill oil supplements typically have a reddish color that helps you distinguish them from fish oil.

What Is Fish Oil?

Fish oil, by definition, comes from fish, but not all species of fish are used to make fish oil. 

Fish oil is made from many types of oily, fatty fish that are high in omega-3s. These types of fish include tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. Fish oil is extracted from the tissues of these fish, but just like krill, fish actually do not produce omega-3s themselves. Instead, just as krill do, fish get their omega-3s by consuming algae.

Like krill oil, fish oil contains both of the two most important omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements usually have a yellowish color.

What Are Omega-3s?

Omega-3 lipids provide support to several of your body’s key systems. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid essential to cells throughout the body. These fatty acids play an important role in making up cell membranes and providing energy to the body.

The two most important omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is found in cells in the brain and eyes, while EPA serves an important regulatory function in the body, helping to maintain functions like heart rate and blood pressure.

Despite their importance, these two omega-3s cannot be made by the body, making it essential that you receive enough of these fatty acids from either diet or supplementation. The recommended daily intake of omega-3 for adults is about 1.6 grams per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women.

Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil: What Should I Know?

Is Krill Oil the Same As Fish Oil: 7 Surprising Facts

Both krill oil and fish oil can provide you with an effective source of omega-3s, but since they come from different sources, they are not identical. When comparing the two, there are several similarities as well as some notable differences. 

Understanding the facts may affect your choice when deciding between supplements. Here are some key things to know about the effects of krill oil compared to fish oil.

1. Both Have Surprising Health Benefits

These two supplements are not popular without reason. Due to their high omega-3 content, krill oil and fish oil both have remarkable health benefits. Some of the health benefits of krill oil and fish oil include:

  • Maintaining cholesterol levels already within the healthy range — One of the benefits of omega-3s is that they may help you maintain cholesterol levels that are already within a healthy range, as indicated by your doctor.
  • Supporting healthy blood pressure- Both krill oil and fish oil are high in EPA, which helps to maintain balanced functions like blood pressure and heart rate. Getting the recommended amount of omega-3 fat in your diet may provide support for your overall cardiovascular health.
  • Supporting joint health- The DHA and EPA in krill and fish oil help to support overall joint health and comfort.
  • Supporting eye health- DHA is found in abundance in cells in the eye and retina, playing a key role in their development. The DHA in krill and fish oil helps support retinal and overall eye function.
  • Supporting brain health- The DHA and EPA content in fish and krill oil help support several cognitive functions, showing positive effects on motor skills, concentration, and memory. This is especially helpful as you age.

2. DHA and EPA Are Stored Differently

Although both of these oils contain DHA and EPA, they are stored in different forms in each of the two supplements. In krill oil, DHA and EPA are found as molecules called phospholipids, which are the main components of a cell membrane and help transport cholesterol in the body. Meanwhile, in fish oil, DHA and EPA are delivered in the form of triglycerides, another type of fat geared primarily for storage. 

Phospholipids may offer several additional benefits on their own, including supporting additional energy storage and production, promoting healthy circulation, and supplying choline, an important nutrient that supports neurotransmitters in the brain.

3. Krill Oil May Have Higher Bioavailability

Is Krill Oil the Same As Fish Oil: 7 Surprising Facts

Both krill oil and fish oil have high levels of omega-3s, but the most important part is how much your body can actually use. Although you may consume a given amount of omega-3s, it does not mean that your body will absorb them all for use around the body. Bioavailability refers to how well your body can access and use the nutrients in question.

Some research suggests that the omega-3s in krill oil may have a higher bioavailability than fish oil, making it a more efficient option. This efficiency may be related to the fact that the omega-3s in krill oil are stored as phospholipids compared to triglycerides. However, more research is necessary to determine if and why that may be the case.

4. Krill Oil May Taste Better

Many people choose to take krill oil over fish oil because there is less of a fishy taste. Although krill come from the ocean, they are crustaceans and not fish, which means you can expect them to smell and taste a bit less like fish.

Some people disagree and still recognize a fishy taste, so it may come down to personal preference. Both supplements can lead to bad breath by the nature of how they smell.

5. Krill Oil May Contain More Antioxidants

Antioxidants target harmful molecules in the body called free radicals. This targeting helps protect against the oxidation of cells in the body, which can help keep cells healthy longer and support healthy aging.

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found in krill that has powerful antioxidant properties. This carotenoid is not found in most fish oils. Carotenoids affect the pigment of plants and animals — in this case contributing to the pinkish red color of krill. Astaxanthin is not only a helpful antioxidant, but it may also have additional benefits for heart health.

6. Krill Oil Is Not as Easily Accessible As Fish Oil

Fish oil is easier to find on store shelves than krill oil and, as a result, is much more accessible. In general, consumers are more familiar with fish oil than with krill oil. At the same time, fish oil is cheaper than krill oil. This may be related to the fact that krill oil is only derived from Antarctic krill, while fish oil comes from a wide variety of oily fish.

7. Krill Oil and Fish Oil Are Not the Only Omega-3 Supplements

Although krill oil and fish oil are the most popular omega-3 supplements, they are not the only options — and they may not even be the best options. Algae is another option that is rich in both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids — as we learned earlier, algae is the source where fish and krill get their omega-3 content!

Algae-based omega-3 supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids with higher bioavailability than both krill oil and fish oil. For example, iwi life’s omega-3 supplement provides 1.7x more omega-3 absorption than from these two sources, which seems to be related to the unique glycolipid form in which iwi life algae accumulates their omega-3. This allows your body to use these nutrients more efficiently without needing as much. Since algae contains both DHA and EPA, it has many of the same benefits as fish and krill oil.

In addition to the several health benefits that algae-based supplements can offer, you can enjoy taking a supplement without any fishy aftertaste. Embracing algae can have a positive impact on your body and your breath.

Are There Side Effects of Krill Oil?

There are not many severe side effects to krill oil, but there are some notable ones. Some of the potential side effects include:

  • Bad breath
  • Possible interactions with prescription blood thinners 
  • Upset stomach
  • Heartburn

You should consult your doctor if you have high cholesterol and are considering taking a krill or fish oil supplement. If you have a seafood or shellfish allergy, you should steer clear of both of these supplements entirely.

Start Including More Omega-3 in Your Diet

Krill oil offers a notable alternative to fish oil, potentially offering several additional benefits from antioxidant content to taste. However, algae may provide a reliable alternative to both, offering the same benefits and more. Support your eyes, heart, joints, and more by taking a high-quality daily supplement.

With their high bioavailability of omega-3s, algae supplements may make it easier for your body to obtain these nutrients than other supplements. To obtain your intake of valuable omega-3s, try iwi life VegiKrill. Just like krill oil, iwi life VegiKrill contains more bioavailable omega-3 and astaxanthin--all from algae. Taking just one softgel a day can provide you with DHA and EPA omega-3 in a more bioavailable form. Explore our complete family of products to learn more about the benefits that algae has to offer.



Phospholipid | Biology Dictionary

Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport - PMC

Phospholipids to Protect Your Memory and Brain | Riordan Clinic

A Look at Krill Oil’s Benefits | Cleveland Clinic

Astaxanthin: Sources, Extraction, Stability, Biological Activities and Its Commercial Applications—A Review - PMC

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