Krill oil is promoted as a higher-priced alternative to fish oil. But higher price does not necessarily guarantee higher quality.
What are krill? Krill are tiny ocean shrimp. Swimming in dense schools of up to 100,000 individual krill in a single cubic meter (approximately the size of a large home aquarium) of water, these algae-eating animals migrate hundreds of meters (up to a thousand feet) every day up and down alongside icebergs and ice flows, eating plant life. When the krill's colon is full of feces, it sinks. When the krill defecates, it rises back to the surface of the water.
Modern fishing techniques allow the harvesting of deep-water krill. Fishing fleets capture about 200,000 tons of krill each year, while penguins, whales, seals, fish, and other ocean animals eat about 500,000,000 tons of krill each year. In terms of total mass, krill are the most abundant animal on the planet. There are far more millions of tons of krill than there are millions of tons of people.
Krill oil costs more than fish oil, but there are at least three good reasons it's not as good for you. Here are the top three reasons you should choose an Omega 3/DHA fish oil over fish oil for day to day use.
- Krill in its natural state is anything but a health food.
- Krill oil does not have the omega-3 essential fatty acid content of fish oil.
- Despite what manufacturers tell you, krill is not free of ocean pollutants.
Like all shrimp, krill have an exoskeleton shell. There is so much natural fluoride in the shell of the krill that it is naturally toxic to humans (as are most of the animals that eat it). Krill has to be mechanically shelled before it can be processed into krill oil.
Since krill are lower on the food chain, their bodies do not concentrate DHA and EPA as much as the fish that eat them. The DHA and EPA that is in their bodies is attached to phospholipids that make it more easily absorbed, but most of the DHA and EPA in natural fish oil (that has not been treated to make ethyl esters) is almost as easily absorbed, and there's a lot more of the essential fatty acids you need in fish oil.
Tiny krill that live only a few days do not have a chance to concentrate arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other ocean pollutants in their bodies the way fish do. That doesn't mean, however, that they contain no toxins at all. A molecularly distilled fish oil sold by a company that publishes its lab results is as safe as the safest krill oil, and also offers more omega-3's.
Krill oil costs about five times as much as fish oil, and when you consume krill oil, you are taking food away from penguins, seals, walruses, otters, and ocean going fish. There are thousands of clinical studies confirming the health benefits of fish oil, and only two studies confirming the benefits of krill oil, both sponsored by the company that makes the krill oil product. And you can't find krill oil that offers added astaxanthin or coenzyme Q10.
There is no reason anyone needs to use krill oil. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you should take oils made from microalgae. And if you are looking for the greatest health benefit at the lowest cost, you should buy Omega-3 products made by the most responsible and ethical manufacturers of fish oil.