|February 2, 2024

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: What to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

By Bulletproof Staff
Reviewed by Theresa Greenwell for Scientific Accuracy

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: What to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to every cell in your body. Taking an omega-3 supplement helps ensure you regularly get enough omega-3s to keep your cells in top shape.
  • You can find different levels of omega-3s in chia seeds, krill oil and fish oil. For more benefits, try an omega supplement that puts krill oil front and center.
  • With the right supplement, you can get the benefits of essential fatty acids and powerful antioxidants to support heart, brain and joint health.

In the world of Omega-3 fatty acids, the comparison between krill oil vs fish oil is a compelling exploration. These essential fats can play a pivotal role in supporting overall well-being.

When you think of omega-3 fatty acids (aka omega-3s), there’s a good chance fish comes to mind. And you’re not wrong—fish is known for containing essential omega-3s. Taking an omega-3 supplement helps ensure you regularly get enough in your diet.

The vital question remains, however: What’s the best omega-3 supplement? It might not be fish or fish oil at all. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of omega-3s, the advantages of krill oil vs fish oil and the most effective way to increase your daily intake.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential parts of your cells. They’re found in everything from your hair and skin to your bones and blood.

There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in seed oils and nuts.
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found in cold-water fatty fish, like salmon.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in cold-water fatty fish, like salmon; also seaweed.

Unfortunately, the body isn’t able to produce omega-3s on its own. That’s why they’re called essential fatty acids—you have to get them from food or supplements to experience their health benefits.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the structures of cell membranes and play an important role in brain and nervous system function. Omega-3s can also support your mood,[1] heart function,[2] insulin sensitivity,[3] muscle growth[4] and sleep quality.[5]

In 2013, scientists established a connection between living a longer life and eating about two servings of fish per week.[6] In the study, people with higher levels of omega-3s had a 27% decrease in overall mortality risk.

A 2021 article also compiled findings that supported the benefits of eating fish.[7] In addition to selenium, iodine, vitamin D and taurine, fish also contain omega-3 fatty acids. So, what makes omega-3s so key? Omega-3 fatty acids may help support heart health and reduce markers of health-related concerns.[8]

You can find these fatty acids in foods like fatty fish, grass-fed beef, algae oils, sardines, Brussels sprouts and walnuts. But if you want the biggest benefits, krill oil delivers in more ways than one.

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: What You Should Know

The omega-3s from krill and fish oil supplements are better for you than the vegetable-based omega-3s found in sources such as flax oil. Here’s why: Vegetable-based sources also contain oxidized omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to health-related concerns—not what you need from a supplement.[9]

Also, the majority of the omega-3 fatty acids in vegetable sources come in the form of a single type of fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA can be converted into the other two essential fatty acid forms (EPA and DHA), but here’s the catch: Humans can convert only about 1-4% of ALA.

This means with vegetable-based sources of omega-3s, your body won’t get enough of the other two types of fatty acids it needs.

Luckily, krill oil and fish oil are both excellent sources of EPA and DHA.

Krill Oil vs Fish Oil: Which is Better?

Krill oil supplements deliver all the omega-3s (ALA, EPA and DHA) and they’re easier for your body to use because they’re packaged as phospholipids. Phospholipids form the outer wall of cells. They have a water-loving head and water-hating tails, creating a protective barrier called the cell membrane. This membrane controls what goes in and out of the cell, keeping it healthy and safe.[10]

Why is that important? Every cell membrane in the body is made of phospholipids, so your body can put phospholipid building blocks to work repairing cell damage and building new cells.

Krill oil supplements also contain a bonus: a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin to support your eyes and brain. Astaxanthin also protects fats from oxidizing and generating free radicals that increase the effects of aging.[11]

The bottom line: The omega-3s in fish and krill oils deliver the full count of essential fatty acids. Krill oil is special because it’s easier for your body to use, and it gives you a dose of a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin.

What to look for in a fish oil supplement

For the most complete omega-3 supplement, choose one that offers optimal doses of EPA and DHA, as well as an antioxidant to help defend against free radicals. Omega Krill Complex delivers it all.

The lemon-flavored supplement features a unique blend of omega-3s from wild-caught Antarctic krill oil, Norwegian herring roe, wild-caught Atlantic and Pacific fish oils.

In addition to the antioxidant astaxanthin, this supplements contains olive fruit extract. Olive fruit extract contains compounds such as polyphenols and flavonoids, which also have strong antioxidant properties. Combined, they can help combat harmful free radicals in the body.

These standout ingredients come together to support heart, brain and joint health, aka all the benefits of a fish oil supplement—without the strong fishy flavor.†

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This is an updated version of an article originally published December 2014.