You’re Krilling Me

I’ve gotten so many emails from you all asking about the possible superior health benefits of krill oil over fish oil, we should discuss it here at the blog. Nutrition fads come and go and some of the claims are certainly amusing. If it’s not pomegranate it’s goji berries or acai. If it’s not red wine it’s kombucha. We’ve covered many of these in previous blog posts (see the links below). Krill oil is claimed by some to be superior to fish oil. No doubt, I think we all ought to be getting more Omega-3’s into our bodies. But should you go for the krill?

Krill are shrimp-like crustaceans and they are the primary food source of baleen whales (a single whale gleans 4 tons of these tiny shrimp every day). Krill feed on plankton and as such are a critical part of the increasingly fragile Antarctic ecosystem. In general, of course, all our oceans are a mess – whether from over-fishing or pollution or a combination thereof. There’s no question that Omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources are excellent for human health; the trouble is finding the best, safest, purest, and most environmentally responsible source.

There is nothing whatsoever “wrong” with krill oil. You need all the essential fatty acids you can get. For example – of course there will be individual exceptions here – I think wild Alaskan salmon ought to be included in your diet on at least a weekly basis. You can’t eat fish every day – and certainly not farmed, dioxin-loaded garbage or mercury-contaminated ocean-caught fish – yet these precious fats are absolutely vital for your health. So, unless you plan to eat wild Alaskan salmon for dinner from here until eternity, supplementation is a no-brainer. Like fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, krill are rich in both EPA and DHA. They also contain an antioxidant called astaxanthin, and you’ll see this being touted by some krill oil distributors as an advantage over fish oil. However, know that many fish, including salmon, are rich in astaxanthin as well (this is the chemical compound behind the pink).

The only “issue” here is choosing a top-drawer supplement. The cheap fish oil sitting on the shelves at Wal-Mart is not what you want to put in your body. There is a lot of bad fish oil out there, so you must choose a quality source. As with everything else in life, you do get what you pay for. My work in supplement research and development – extensive to say the least – makes me choose fish oil over krill oil. If I knew krill oil were inherently superior, I’d not only take it, I’d make it. One of the primary issues with both krill oil and inferior fish oil is burping. I’m not sure if fish breath is as bad as garlic breath, but it’s certainly up there. Rx-quality fish oil is incredibly pure and, thank goodness, burp-free. That said, there is nothing “wrong” with krill oil – there’s just nothing inherently “right” with it, either.

Further reading:

The 10 Dumbest Drugs Ever Invented

Industrial Mold: It’s What’s for Dinner!

The 10 Worst Health Scams

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TAGS:  omega 3s

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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17 thoughts on “You’re Krilling Me”

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  1. Kombucha is delicious. It’s fizzy like beer and home to friendly gut bacteria like yogurt. I don’t drink alcohol and eat only homemade raw yogurt from grass-fed cows when I’m lucky enough to score some at the local farmers’ market. Love the feeling as the fizz hits my stomach and the critters settle into their new home.

  2. I believe that krill is superior in treating inflammation. I started krill and cut back on fish oil after reading a post about krill, and noticed a dramatic improvement within 48 hrs. Never had a problem with burping either. I buy my krill from vitamin shoppe, and only get the Neptune kind, which is supposed to be the best.

  3. How can one best determine if a “Fish Oil” is considered a “top-drawer supplement”?

    Is the “burp” test the sole criteria?

  4. I bought Dr. Barry Sears’ RX-quality fish oil. Made me have fish burps and diarrhea, just like other fish oils that are cheaper. So I bought Neptune Krill oil, hearing that a clinical study showed something like 43% increase in HDL, 10X better than fish oil does. Don’t know about my HDL yet, as I’m not due for a doctor appointment. It has relieved an itchy, scaley skin condition on my back that has been there a few months, though.

    That jar full of krill is pretty disgusting. Hate to think of those beady black eyes being squeezed before being put into my capsules.

  5. Forgot to say that the Krill oil did NOT give me fish burps and diarrhea. It’s really the only Omega 3 supplement I can take because, although one can live with fish burps, chronic diarrhea is not tolerable. Another good thing about krill oil is that less is needed because it is supposed to be much better absorbed. Two little soft gels a day instead of 6 huge fish oil gel caps. That’s a big advantage.

  6. This is also some worry that the krill fishery is unsustainable and puts the already at risk from global warming penguins at even more of a disadvantage from prey depletion.

  7. Nice post. Very informative and balanced ideas. However, I think I’d still prefer krill oil over fish oil. It’s because even the young ones have great benefits to it. Especially that krill oils contain Docosahexaenoic acid or simply known as DHA which helps children improve their developing mind and body.

  8. I disagree completely with the author. There are many lab results showing that Krill Oil is massively more effective, both as an antioxidant and an anti-imflamatory, but also in terms of lipid management. It really gets on my nerves when people state their opinion in such a way that it sounds like fact. It isnt. Read the research papers, krill kicks the ass out of any brand of fish oil.

  9. Steve, there aren’t “many lab results showing that Krill Oil is massively more effective”. There have only been a couple of studies done involving krill oil supplementation and they’re just cited over and over again by individuals and companies selling krill oil. The verdict is very much still out on krill oil. It has the potential to be much more effective, but that’s far from a definite thing. You seem to have drunk the proverbial kool-aid.

  10. John,

    Just go to PubMed and search on Krill Oil. There are over a dozen studies on one or another aspect of it, objectively demonstrating favorable qualities.
    The only questions that I have are whether the benefits are worth the increased cost and whether krill oil is safe, that is, acceptably free of pollutants.
    I agree more with Steve than with you.

  11. My 2 cents…

    Every single brand of Fish oil gives me the burps… So I went to COSTCO and bought the Mega Red Krill Oil. No burps. I don’t buy all the hype but love the fact I can take these with or without food. Funny thing is they contain vanillin and sorbitol (bad…) – I hope in low amounts.

    I do plan on trying Mark’s Oils next to be sure…

  12. Why do krill oil supplements have sorbitol? This is a sweetener which causes a rise in your blood sugar (glucose) and that is a PRO-inflammatory situation.

  13. Like Mark says, your supplement has to be top quality. In this case, one specific reason for that is that, in considering a food, you have to look at how it’s processed. Especially with oils, you have to look at the extraction method. I called one of these krill oil companies, one that offered me a free case since I write about natural food. When asked, they told me it was cold-pressed and added that cold-pressed oils “may be healthier… because of the lack of heat and chemicals in the production process.” They pointed out that conventionally-extracted oils are often made with toxic chemicals like hexane. Good point; that’s just two reasons why I don’t eat canola oil.

    What she didn’t mention, which I had learned from the WAPF website, is that krill oil is often extracted not with hexane but with acetone. I had to ask specifically about that, and sure enough, that’s what they use.

    When you look for superfoods, you are often setting yourself up for a super ripoff.

  14. Many concerns about finding a quality Krill Oil product have been expressed. Comments writing off Krill Oil as a beneficial aid in promoting overall health benefits seems almost laughable if you do your research! The KEY is choosing a quality product that has high levels of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, significant levels of the antioxidant Astaxanthin, and is produced by a trusted manufacturer. I recommend trying Doctor Recommended Extra Strength Krill Oil. They are accredited by the BBB and the products are produced and packaged in an FDA registered facility in the USA!