Which omega-3 supplement should you be taking?
We always hear about omega-3 supplements and how important they are for our overall health. Although they are fatty acids, this is one kind of fat to keep around, and for good reason. While they are often found in many of the foods we already eat, taking omega-3’s as a dietary supplement can boost our overall health to keep us in the gym and off the couch.
Fish oil is one popular supplement many people take for a variety of reasons, including fighting anxiety and depression, improving eye and heart health, promoting bone and joint health, reducing inflammation, as well as keeping you in overall top shape to see your gains come to fruition and keep your athletic performance in top shape. Krill oil is another omega-3 supplement to consider that could potentially dethrone the popular fish oil by providing the same benefits.
There are three kinds of omega-3 fatty acids to know about when diving into the world of these supplements. The two most important ones are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are found in certain kinds of fish. The third is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in different plant sources like nuts and seeds. With both krill oil and fish oil high in EPA and DHA, with booming benefits for your overall health, the choice of which one is better becomes a little more challenging.
What Is Krill Oil?
Krill oil has made waves recently as a great alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids. Extracted from tiny sea crustaceans called Antarctic krill, this red oil has begun to hit supplement shelves to offer consumers diversity. Full of both EPA and DHA, this oil may actually be absorbed better than fish oil. The benefits of krill oil, although similar to fish oil, do offer some differences that will make you think twice about which omega-3 supplement you buy.
Krill oil can enhance bioavailability because they attach to phospholipids which make omega-3’s easier to absorb allowing for better digestion. In terms of cardiovascular health, krill oil can lower bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while increasing your good cholesterol levels (1) to keep your heart health stable and free from serious harm. The red color of krill oil comes from an antioxidant called astaxanthin which can support your immune system and work to reduce inflammation (2) to improve your workouts and recovery time. The presence of astaxanthin and its valuable properties makes krill oil a popular option.
What About Fish Oil?
For a long time, fish oil was the king of omega-3 supplements. Extracted from the tissue of fatty, oily fish like herring, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel, this supplement does have great benefits for your overall health as well. This golden-color oil also contains some vitamin A and D which can help with immune health, muscle function, and appetite control.
Fish oil attaches to triglycerides, which are not as effective for absorption as phospholipids. Fish oil is thought to be a great way to deal with depression (3) because omega-3’s in your blood allow for serotonin to move more easily between cells. Similar to krill oil, fish oil can also reduce inflammation and joint pain as a result of its amount of EPA and DHA found within. In terms of heart health, fish oil has the capability to reduce blood pressure and prevent plaque build-up in your arteries. As a natural and impressive supplement, fish oil is a solid choice for obtaining your omega-3 needs.
Which Is Better For You?
Both krill oil and fish oil work for your benefit to improve your overall health by pumping you with vital omega-3 fatty acids. But the question remains, which one is better for you? While much of the benefits are the same, there are some differences that may sway you one way over the other.
Some suggest that you do not need as much krill oil to match the benefits of fish oil and while that may not be a huge problem for some, those on a supplement budget may think about something like this before committing to fish oil. But in terms of effectiveness, since krill oil attaches to phospholipids, as opposed to fish oil which attaches to triglycerides, krill oil may be more easily absorbed allowing for less strain on your body and better effectiveness (4).
Krill oil also may contain more antioxidants and with the presence of astaxanthin, this makes sense. Not found in many fish oils, astaxanthin seems like krill oil’s secret weapon when it comes to fighting pathogens and inflammation and protecting your body from oxidative stress. Fish oil is well known for its benefits surrounding heart health, but krill oil has become a focal point for improving this vital organ. While both were solid choices for lowering blood sugar, triglycerides and bad cholesterol, krill oil can potentially be more effective and at lower doses (5).
While krill oil seems to be above fish oil in terms of all these properties, it should be said that fish oil does have the ability to enhance your overall health as well. It is also cheaper and more accessible than krill oil which is something to consider. Although fish oil does give you that fishy after taste, given that krill oil needs to be harvested and processed at a different rate, it makes it a lot more expensive than fish oil. Research has yet to solidify if one is totally better than the other, but it is a personal preference at the end of the day and you know your body best.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for our overall health and provide a host of benefits to keep us healthy and operating at full capacity. With so many supplements on the market, it can be tough to choose which ones are best. Both fish oil and krill oil have amazing benefits to reduce cholesterol, aid in heart and eye health, and boost immunity while lowering inflammation. While krill oil may be slightly more effective than fish oil in most of these categories, it is important to look into both to see what will work best for you. What is for sure is that omega-3’s provide great benefits and should be a part of your dietary regimen.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Berge, Kjetil; Musa-Veloso, Kathy; Harwood, Melody; Hoem, Nils; Burri, Lena (2014). “Krill oil supplementation lower serum triglycerides without increasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults with borderline high or high triglyceride levels”. (source)
- Ekpe, Lawson; Inaku, Kenneth O.; Ekpe, Victor (2018). “Antioxidant effects of astaxanthin in various diseases- a review”. (source)
- Wani, Ab L.; Bhat, Sajad A.; Ara, Anjum (2015). “Omega-3 fatty acids and the treatment of depression: a review of scientific evidence”. (source)
- Ahn, So H.; Lim, Su J.; Ryu, Young M.; Park, Hye-Ryung; Suh, Hyung J.; Han, Sung H. (2018). “Absorption rate of krill oil and fish oil in blood and brain of rats”. (source)
- 1MD. “The Latest Clinical Research on the Benefits of Krill Oil”. (source)