In an ideal world we would all be eating adequate amounts of oily fish to obtain our required omega 3 levels. However, this is increasingly not the case!
In our fast paced and increasingly polluted world, our intake is declining and increasing amounts of dangerous heavy metals and contaminants are being found in our water sources and thus, our fish and seafood.
Therefore, many people need supplementation in order to meet their omega 3 targets. However, with a myriad of brands, capsules, liquids, types of fish etc… out there we are getting bombarded in the shopping aisle! I don’t know about you, but before I learnt about nutrition, I was just reaching for the cheapest supplement, the one with the most colourful label, the one with the cartoon fish on the front, the one with the free sample of another supplement…needless to say my choice of supplement was often uneducated.
Education is key in choosing the right supplement for you! Therefore, I will try and make it a little easier by breaking it down.
I often get asked what the difference is between krill oil and fish oil. Lets start with that.
Krill oil is extracted from krill a tiny organism found at the bottom of the food chain. A crustacean, krill are small reddish-coloured animals similar to shrimp and their oil is known to be of high nutrient density. Being at the bottom of the food chain, they serve as a food source for much of our marine life including whales, fish, seals and squid.
Krill oil contains less EPA and DHA than fish oil, i.e. less of the good stuff, but in turn, is absorbed quicker and easier because krill’s fatty acids are packaged as phospholipids, which the body can use immediately. This is because nearly every cell membrane within the body is made of phospholipids, therefore it is a case of like for like! Furthermore, krill oil has been found to have more antioxidants than fish oil with a specific example being astaxanthin, a carotenoid antioxidant that keeps the krill from oxidizing and thus, helps to preserve it.
Fish oil is most often extracted from oily, cold water, deep ocean and wild caught fish such as herring, sardines, salmon, halibut and mackerel. Fish oil contains more EPA and DHA than krill but the body needs to do more work to access it. This is because it is packaged as triglycerides, which are the storage and transportation form of lipids and they need to undergo additional processing within the body to make them bioavailable.
Fish consumption is always my priority before supplementation. If you feel that you are not meeting omega 3 requirements, ensure you have a chat to a nutritionist or your healthcare practitioner before supplementing with omega 3.
According to the experts, the majority of evidence still rests on fish oil due to its therapeutic benefits being highlighted in thousands of studies. However, it may seem like krill is getting a better wrap than fish oil, but if we were to increasingly rely on krill for our omega 3 needs, we would be removing an important food source for our marine wildlife, threatening their health and therefore, our health in turn. So what are your thoughts…?