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Fish Oil vs. Krill Oil: Which Should You Choose?

The benefits of the fish and krill oil are widely studied and documented, but what makes these two oils different? How do you decide which one is right for you?

Adding a fish oil supplement to your daily routine is a common recommendation, but krill oil has also been getting some attention.

Both have great health claims and come from sea life, so what makes them so different?

Production Differences
Fish oil can be produced from several different types of fish, including tuna, salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel. What makes some people avoid fish oil is the amount of toxins and heavy metals present in some types of fish, such as mercury. However, properly harvested and processed fish shouldn't have these risks.

Krill are crustaceans that are similar to shrimp. The three main types used commercially are Antarctic Krill (Euphausia norvegica), Northern Krill (Meganyctiphanes norvegica) and Pacific Krill (Euphausia pacifica). The controversy surrounding the harvesting of krill is the fact many specifies of whales rely on it for food. Making sure you research the manufacturer properly can help you avoid these practices.

Turning both raw ingredients into a fish oil supplement typically involves pressing the fish or krill to extract the oil. It's important to look for supplements that are virgin and cold pressed when possible, as this leaves the most amount of nutrients naturally present in the fish or krill within the oil.

Nutrition Benefits and Differences
What makes fish oil so nutritious is the presence of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as omega-3s. These essential fatty acids include DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which are known to support the heart and brain. They can help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation throughout the body, protect you suffering a heart attack or stroke and keep your mind sharp. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and conducted in Australia found regular supplementation of fish oil helps reduced LDL ("bad') cholesterol, increased HDL ("good") cholesterol and reduced the risk for heart disease when combined with regular exercise.

You also get the benefits of DHA and EPA with krill oil, but this oil tends to have a greater amount of valuable omega-3s, meaning you have to consume less of it on a daily basis. What makes krill unique among oil supplements is that it also contains astaxanthin, which is a carotenoid antioxidant that protects the cells of the body from free radical damage and the oxidation of EPA and DHA. They obtain this carotenoid through the algae they consume, which gives them their pink color. A 2012 animal study published in the European Journal of Nutrition and conducted in Norway found krill oil to be more effective in lowering cholesterol than fish oil. However, more research is required to determine which is more beneficial for inflammation.

Making the Choice
Fish oil is more widely tested and used, which means more evidence for the benefits it claims. However, krill oil is being studied more closely and means a more convenient supplement, with less to take everyday. No matter which you choose, look for a company that practices sustainable production when producing their fish or krill oil to make sure the environment the fish or krill are coming from isn't negatively impacted.

When adding any supplement to your routine, it's important to speak with your doctor first, especially if you're being treated for a medical condition. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding will require more essential fatty acids to support their baby, for example, and speaking with your doctor can help you determine the best dose.

Which do you prefer? Shop our entire selection of fish and krill oils at eVitamins and let us know which one you like better!

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    eVitamins recommends that you do not rely on the information presented in this article as diagnosis for treatment to any health claim. Content and information on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. eVitamins assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements.
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