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Is Krill Oil as Good as Fish Oil?

Krill oil and fish oil are popular supplements taken primarily for cardiovascular health. Both contain the omega-3 fatty acids docosohexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. However, the Pharmacist’s Letter website reports that krill oil is not as beneficial as fish oil. It contains smaller amounts of DHA and EPA and has not been proven to have the same heart benefits.

DHA and EPA have several cardiovascular benefits. They reduce risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and both cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. They may decrease blood clotting, inflammation and rhythm problems that can cause sudden death. Omega-3s may also lower heart rate, slow plaque buildup and lower blood pressure. At high levels, they can reduce triglycerides and improve the triglyceride-to-HDL-cholesterol ratio. Omega-3 fatty acids may also be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, depression, bipolar disorder, menstrual pain and certain kidney problems.

Because there is such strong evidence that fish oil promotes heart health, the American Heart Association recommends daily intake. If you do not have heart disease, aim for 500 mg or more of combined DHA and EPA. The AHA recommends at least two servings weekly of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, sardines or tuna. If you have heart disease, 1 g of DHA and EPA daily is recommended. Food sources are preferable but, if you cannot meet the recommendation through diet alone, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement. For treating triglycerides, the dose is usually 2 to 4 g daily.

Fish oil capsules can be a convenient way to get your daily DHA and EPA intake, especially if you need high doses. Over-the-counter fish oil is considered a supplement, not a drug, so it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The Pharmacist’s Letter website points out that quality and content may vary. The site recommends choosing a product that is USP-verified — meaning these products have been tested and are confirmed to contain what the label states. When selecting a supplement, look at the DHA and EPA content. Most products listed in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database contained 300 mg DHA and EPA per 1,000 mg fish oil capsule; the highest contained 570 mg.

Like fish oil, krill oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. It is claimed that the omega-3s may be absorbed more efficiently from krill oil than from fish oil. Pharmacist’s Letter reports that one specific krill oil product improved cholesterol levels in patients with hyperlipidemia. However, the website points out that there is no evidence that krill oil reduces cardiovascular risk. The DHA and EPA content of krill oil supplements is much lower — 72 mg in krill oil compared to 300 mg in most fish oil capsules. Also, krill oil capsules cost five to 10 times as much as fish oil supplements for the same omega-3 content.

Photo Credits:

  • Fish oil vitamins image by Stephen VanHorn from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.