Does Krill Oil Swim Laps Around Fish Oil?

By Nicole German (RD, LD)

2976-4139450640_84923858d3_m.jpgKrill are tiny crustaceans that feed on nutrient-packed phytoplankton on the bottom of the ocean.

When consumed, krill are high in the omega 3 healthy fats.

Krill oil is slowly becoming more popular for its high concentration of healthy fats. But, can it top fish oil as a healthy fat supplement?


  • There is likely not enough EPA and DHA to make a medical difference in supplementation for lowering cholesterol. Many health professionals recommend an intake of 500 to 2000 mg of EPA and DHA daily to see heart health benefits.
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  • Cost: Krill oil is more expensive than fish oil. The cheapest is about $20 for 90 capsules, but you have to take multiple daily to get more benefits. By comparison, you can buy a 150 capsule bottle of fish oil for $10.
  • Krill may or may not be an ecologically sound choice: some say that the supplementation companies are harvesting too many krill, and now the whale population (whales eat the krill) is in danger. Others say krill is very ecologically sound because the population is thriving and we only use a supposed 2% for human consumption. The best option would be to be a sustainably made brand of any supplement.

Krill Oil Positives

  • The cost is high for a supplement, but it is still cheaper than medications and doctor visits.
  • Source of antioxidants: Krill oil contains astaxanthin–the name for the specific antioxidant that has the same health benefits of those antioxidants found in carrots, peppers, and salmon.
  • Slightly better absorption: Don’t believe the claims that say krill oil has ten times better absorption. It is closer to 150% better.
  • Can still help to lower triglycerides and improve health. Even if krill oil does not have all the DHA and EPA of fish oil, supplementing can still improve your health. I experimented with my Father, and his cholesterol did not lower with krill oil, but his triglycerides did lower!

Final Recommendations

Krill oil has its benefits, but does not contain enough EPA and DHA to be as potent as marketers like to promote.

Try supplementing with a higher ratio of fish oil to krill oil, and check with your doctor as well.

Have you taken krill oil and experienced results?


  1. MichaelD

    I have two family members that swear by krill and its ability to reduce pain and inflammation.
    For us, it seems to work better than fish oil.

  2. Phil

    Excellent comment by Joan. Thanks for that, helpful.

  3. joan

    A lot of uniformed talk here. Including from the author of the article.

    1. Krill oil contains 40% phospholipids, fish oil contains 0% phospholipids. How can you compare apples and oranges?

    2. As for the pollutants: krill is at the bottom of the food chain, and is therefor far less prone to contamination. They swim in pristine Antarctic waters, and have a 1 to 2 year life span.

    3. All krill oil suppliers (Aker, Neptune, Azantis) are member of Omega 3 GOED, the organization that sets the strictest purity standards for both fish and krill oil.

    4. As to the sustainability vs fish: fish for omega 3 oil comes mainly from anchovy and is fully harvested (at 100% of the sustainable capacity), without any oversight or global management. Krill harvest is fully monitored and controlled by CCAMLR. The Antarctic krill quota is set at a precautionary 1% of what is considered “sustainable”. Less than 10% of this 1% “precautionary limit” is actually harvested. Less then 5% of the harvested quantity goes to human consumption; the rest to fish farms. In other words, krill oil for humans takes up 0.005% of the SUSTAINABLE krill quantity.

    5. There’s more krill in all oceans than there’s fish, since it’s the main food source for fish.

    6. Want to know more about the krill benefits then google “wellwise”.

  4. Susan

    I’ve been taking krill oil for a few years now and my cholesterol numbers have slowly improved over that time. In particular my HDL’s (good chol.)have slowly climbed and my triglyerides have gone way down. My diet and exercise have stayed pretty much the same. I don’t know if krill oil is the reason for the improvement, but I’ll probably keep taking it. Also, I give my itchy dog fish oil and it seems to keep her skin and coat healthier. Those are my experiences…

  5. you

    Christ is there nothing they won’t market and make money on? This is just plain wrong.

  6. Milemom

    well, how exactly does one know if the product you’re considering “has attained the 5-star testing rating from the IFOS (International Fish Oil Stardards”? I’m not being snarky; I have no idea.
    I have Dr. Mercola’s Krill Oil for Women (it also has evening primrose oil. I don’t remember why I chose krill over fish oil…must have read praises for it somewhere.

  7. Spectra

    I don’t take krill oil, mostly because the cost is prohibitive. But I also eat plenty of fruits and veggies, so I don’t worry too much about not getting enough antioxidants. I think I’ll stick with the fish oil, thanks.

  8. Jim

    That’s a big call. Surely not everything has high levels of pollutants. Or maybe that’s just naive wishful thinking on my part.

  9. Sue K.

    Another downside, as I was last informed it is impossible to remove toxins such as PCBs or dioxins from krill oil. I work as a consultant for Zone Labs and I stick with the recommendations of Barry Sears PhD, creator of the Zone diet and one of today’s most prominent lipid (and fish oil) researchers worldewide, to use an ultra-refined fish oil concentrate with a 2/1 EPA/DHA concentration from a batch which has attained the 5-star testing rating from the IFOS (International Fish Oil Stardards). Anything less and you’re ingesting what Barry refers to as the “sewer of the sea” in regard to toxic pollutants and heavy metals.