Why Take Fish Oil or Krill Oil

And Which Should You Take

You should take a fish oil or krill oil product to boost the omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) fatty acids in an effort to balance them with the omega 6 (pro-inflammatory) fatty acids in your body.  Ideally, this balance between the two would be about 1:1.  In the industrialized world, diets generally followed have resulted in a serious imbalance.  Omega 3s having a very unfavorable ratio with omega 6, more or less in the 1:10 range, and sometimes even much higher.  That's it in a nutshell, but here is a more detailed explanation of this situation.

Hopefully, this opener has convinced you that you should be taking an Omega 3 supplement, fish oil or krill oil.  If so, the balance of this page will focus on narrowing the options and explaining how to make your choices.

Fish Oil or Krill Oil?

Which is better and why?

Well, Krill oil is the best.  Take a look at this fact sheet from Dr. Marcola.  It's pretty clear and indisputable.  The only omitted argument for the fish oil side is price.  Fish oil is cheaper than krill oil.  

So, if you are not completely focused on price, it's clear that krill oil is the way to go.  

Another argument in this direction is capsule size.  Fish oil softgels are huge while krill oil is small and easy to swallow.

So, Which Krill oil to Buy and Why?

What are we comparing and what does it cost?

When you compare krill oil products you want to look carefully at four key factors, and of course, the price per dose.  The question is, how much of the four factors are you getting for your money:
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an omega-3 fatty acid - EPA fatty acid supplements support good heart health. Additional uses of EPA include support for joint health, weight management and child development.
    • Heart Health Support - Regular intake of EPA supplements may provide a variety of cardiovascular benefits, especially the support of arterial wall elasticity. EPA may also maintain healthy circulation, heart function and blood clotting.
    • Joint Health - The support of joint health is a common reason to take EPA. It may be helpful for managing discomfort, tenderness and morning stiffness of the joints.
    • Mental Developement - EPA is important for children in learning and development and throughout life.  Very important for seniors trying to hang on to their mental resources.
    • EPA is also useful in burning excess fat before it gets stored.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid.  It is a major structural fat found in the brain and eye accounting for up to 97% of the total omega-3 fats in the brain and up to 93% of the omega-3 fats in a specific part of the eye, called the retina. It is also a key component of the heart. Numerous research studies confirm that everyone, from infants to adults to the elderly, can benefit from a regular intake of dietary DHA.
    • DHA may help support eye health and function from conditions that often occur with age.
    • In larger doses DHA helps maintain healthy cholesterol numbers.
    • DHA supports brain development and protects neurological function.
    • DHA supports healthy circulation.
  • Phospholipids Phospholipids comprise an important class of biological molecules that serve both structural and functional roles in the human body. Their unique composition allows phospholipids to form isolated “envelopes” within the watery environment of your body, and they can be used by your cells as raw material for other essential processes.  Got that?  Good.  So now you know having a big number for these is a good thing.  Helps absorbtion of EPA and DHA.
  • Astaxanthin - Astaxanthin is a powerful, naturally occurring carotenoid pigment that's found in certain marine plants and animals. Often called "the king of the carotenoids," astaxanthin is recognized as being one of the most powerful antioxidants found in nature. It is of particular significance, because unlike some other types of antioxidants, astaxanthin never becomes a pro-oxidant in the body so it can never cause harmful oxidation.  Benefits:
    • Eye Health – The structure of astaxanthin is similar to lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of nuclear cataracts. But, while similar, astaxanthin has a stronger antioxidant activity and UV-light protection effect, both of which point to it being an excellent supplement for eye health maintenance.
    • Skin Health – Astaxanthin has been shown to help improve skin moisture levels, elasticity, and smoothness while reducing wrinkles, freckles, and spots. 
    • Astaxanthin's antioxidant properties have also been shown to help improve heart health, cellular health, and the body's immune system.

With the preceding in mind, the following spreadsheet shows some of top brands of krill oil, all of which are available from Vitacost.com at discounted prices.  
Popular Brands of Krill Oil Krill Oil EPA DHA  Phospholipids
Dr Mercola 1000mg 100mg 55mg 400mg 1000mcg $0.999
Jarrow Formulas K-Real® 1200mg 120mg 70mg 650mg 115mcg $0.596
Nature's Way EfaGold® 1000mg 120mg 55mg 400mg 80mcg $0.77
Now Neptune NKO® 1000mg 120mg 70mg 390mg 750mcg $0.70
NutraGold NKO® 1000mg 140mg 85mg 420mg 835mcg $0.667
Schiff MegaRed® Extra Str. 1000mg 128mg 60mg 334mg 50mcg $1.148
Pure Krill-Plex*** 1000mg 120mg 70mg 400mg 750mcg $2.156
Source Naturals NKO® 1000mg 120mg 70mg 420mg 480mcg $0.782
Source Naturals ArticPure® 1000mg 150mg 90mg 420mg 500mcg $1.284
Vitacost SKO® 1500mg 180mg 90mg 650mg 1500mcg $0.693
Costco Signature** 1000mg 120mg 60mg 400mg 300mcg $0.3124

* All of the prices shown are for a daily dose of two softgels.  Vitacost offers a discount on all of the brands sold, and they sell supplements from most well established and well regarded laboratories. Discounts tend to range from about 15% to 50%.  Vitacost also offers additional discounts, sometime on their own product line, but  at other times storewide.  Orders left in your "shopping cart" will usually attract an email offer of 10% off everything to "finish your order."

** The last item listed above is from Costco.  This is not carried by Vitacost.  I'm always a little wary of private label supplements because the retailers have a very wide range of quality levels to choose from, and the decisions made vary from big box store to big box store.  Costco has a good reputation for maintaining the high road on quality, and can usually be trusted.  The Costco Signature item compares favorably with a few of the items listed.  It's hard, however, to be sure that the labs used by private label retailers are on par with the branded name merchandise with stellar reputations.  Another issue is that the size of container is much larger for the Costco product.  Some of the other lines offer large economy sizes, as well, but I personally prefer the smaller size for freshness and purity.  The Costco product is very subject to going rancid from UV damage because it is in a clear bottle and likely to go bad before it is used up unless kept in refrigerator.

Perhaps the most important distinction here is that the Costco product (and two other brands listed in the study) did not use one of the well-respected registered trademark brands of krill oil.  Generic krill oil is available in a wide variety of quality levels, and it is difficult for even a well-intentioned retailer to manage the actual contents of the product they market.

*** Pure Krill-Plex is a line sold only by health care professionals.  This might include doctors, chiropractors, nutritional experts or others.  As you can note, the specifications of the item are similar to the others, but the price is about triple. Interestingly, this high-ticket  product is one of the few not offering well-known registered trademark krill oil.  Buyer beware.

In developing this list of brands, I encountered several well-respected krill oil brands which offered products touted as krill oil, but when you read the small print, this was not the case.  They were coming up with a blend of krill oil and fish oil, without a clear indication of percentages of each.  Buyer beware.

If you are already taking a krill oil product, compare your product to those above to make sure you  are getting what you need for a fair price.

Take your krill oil, and be well!