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Fish Oil vs. Krill

Is krill a better source of omega-3 fats or just the latest marketing craze? Find out whether this new supplement is worth the premium price.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #177

Here’s a table summarizing my results:

 

Brand
Cost per 1,000 mg
(list price)
EPA + DHA per 1,000 mg
Cost per 500 mg EPA + DHA
Neptune Krill Oil
$1.50
240 mg
$3.00
Mercola Krill Oil
$1.06
155 mg
$3.00
Nature’s Way Krill Oil
$1.30
240 mg
$2.50
Nordic Naturals Omega 3
$0.22
275 mg
$0.40
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega
$0.38
550 mg
$.035
Twin Lab Mega-Twin EPA
.$50
760 mg
$0.33
Carlson Labs Super Omega-3
$0.23
500 mg
$0.23
Country Life Omega-3 Fish Body Oils
$0.12
300 mg
$0.20
Vitamin Shoppe Omega-3
$0.16
500 mg
$0.16

 

Source: VitaminShoppe.com   2/16/2012
 

Is Krill Oil Better Absorbed?

Now, of course, if you want me to pay ten times more for something, you’re going to have to convince me that it’s superior in some significant way. And the folks selling krill oil argue that its omega-3s are arranged in a unique molecular structure, making them more efficiently absorbed than the omega-3s in fish oil.

In fact, a handful of small studies show that the omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are better absorbed than those in fish oil. But not ten times better. Only about one and half times better. If I factor the more efficient absorption into my cost-effectiveness calculations, it lowers the effective cost of krill oil. Now it’s only about 8 times more expensive than fish oil.

Not so fast, say the krill marketers! Krill oil also contains astaxanthin, that fancy pink antioxidant I mentioned earlier. But taking krill oil for the antioxidants is like buying a Jaguar for the windshield wipers. There are a lot more cost-effective ways to improve the antioxidant status of your diet…such as eating a carrot.

Krill Oil and Cholesterol

 

Finally, I want to mention one additional study—also funded by a company that sells krill oil—which found that people taking krill oil saw  significant decreases in their LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides whereas people taking fish oil saw only modest improvements. While I would like to see these results confirmed by additional research, this is one aspect in which krill oil appears to offer something special. And although krill may be expensive compared to fish oil, it’s cheap compared to cholesterol-lowering medications. Don’t make any changes in your prescribed medications without checking in with your doctor. But if you have stubbornly high cholesterol or triglycerides, you might want to talk with your doctor about giving krill oil a try.

Otherwise, when it comes to omega-3s, I think regular fish oil (or actual fish) is a better investment. And for tips on how to get more benefit from less omega-3, see my episode on Fish Oil and Omega-3s.

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Fish Oil image courtesy of Shutterstock

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About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.