Krill oil has gained a lot in popularity lately as a superior alternative to fish oil. Basically, it is claimed, anything fish oil can do is krill oil. Read on to learn what makes krill oil supplements better than fish oil supplements, why you should consider these vitamin supplements, and which brands we recommend.
What is krill oil?
Krill oil is made from tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans that live in the ocean and are usually used as whale food. In fact, krill means “whale feed” in Norwegian. These tiny organisms actually play an extremely important role in the food chains of marine ecosystems. The krill, which is used to make krill oil, is usually found in the waters around Antarctica.
Just like the fish oils found in supplements, krill oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which contain EPA and DHA, two compounds that have been shown to have a number of health benefits.
But what makes krill oil better than fish oil?
It is believed that krill oil is better absorbed by the body than fish oil. Both get most of their benefits from EPA and DHA, which are in their fatty acid stores. At the same dose, however, krill oil leads to more fatty acids in the blood than fish oil. One possible explanation for this is that the fatty acids in fish oil are present as triglycerides, while those in krill oil are available as phospholipids, which the body can process more easily.
Additionally, krill oil contains astaxanthin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that could have beneficial effects on heart health. Studies have shown that krill oil is more effective than fish oil at lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
Our picks for the best krill oil supplements
Each product presented here was selected independently by the author. Here you can find out more about our assessment methodology. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may receive commissions.
How we picked the best krill oil supplements
Here are the factors we considered when comparing the best brands of krill oil to create our list of recommended supplements.
Omega-3 content – We searched for the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in each krill oil softgel capsule or capsule.
Astaxanthin content – The best krill oil pills contain this naturally occurring antioxidant.
Third party laboratory tests – For each dietary supplement, we select brands that guarantee the quality of their product through independent laboratory tests.
Krill source – We also compared these supplements for the source of their krill oil and only recommend brands that use sustainably harvested krill.
The 5 Best Krill Oil Supplements
Best overall result: Vital Plan Krill Oil Plus
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 330 mg per 3 capsules
- Astaxanthin – 150 mcg per 3 capsules
- Krill source – Antarctica
Why buy: We love Vital Plan Krill Oil Plus because it contains omega-3 fatty acids, astaxanthin, and choline to promote brain, cardiovascular, and joint health, and because it’s made from sustainably harvested Antarctic krill. In fact, Vital Plan uses Superba krill oil, which is certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and is 100% traceable.
The best for cognitive health: Onnit Krill Oil
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 240 mg per 2 capsules
- Astaxanthin – 200 mcg per 2 capsules
- Krill source – Antarctica
Why buy: Onnit krill oil makes it easy to supplement your diet with the essential nutrients of krill with just two capsules a day. The DHA and EPA fatty acids in these supplements, as well as astaxanthin, can help support better cognitive, heart and joint health. They also get their krill from a Friend of the Sea certified supplier.
The best for heart health: Neptune Krill Oil NOW
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 250 mg per 2 capsules
- Astaxanthin – 360 mcg per 2 capsules
- source – Antarctica
Why buy: Neptune krill oil supplements use 100% Neptune krill oil, a patented oil made from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). Two softgels contain 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 360 mcg of astaxanthin, which can promote better cardiovascular and joint health. We like NOW Neptune Krill Oil because they also get their krill oil from a Friend of the Sea certified source.
The best for joint health: Viva Naturals Antarctic Krill Oil
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 330 mg per 2 capsules
- Astaxanthin – 1.6 mg per 2 capsules
- source – Antarctica
Why buy: Viva Naturals uses a proprietary Caplique encapsulation to avoid any krill oil smell or potential fishy burps. With 90 mg DHA and 165 mg EPA per 2 capsule serving, this supplement will definitely be worth your money as it contains more DHA and EPA than your average supplement. We like that these capsules contain a higher concentration of the antioxidant astaxanthin and are designed to remove any fishy aftertaste.
Strongest: Sports Research Antarctic Krill Oil
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 240 mg per softgel
- Astaxanthin – 500 mcg per softgel
- source – Antarctica
Why buy: IKOS certified and made with its proprietary Superba krill oil formula, Sports Research Antarctic Krill Oil is an excellent choice if you want to enjoy the benefits of high quality omega-3 fatty acids. Each softgel capsule contains 1000 mg krill oil, making it the strongest krill oil supplement on our list. We like that their krill oil is also certified as sustainably sourced by the MSC.
Research on Krill Oil Supplements
Research has long shown the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in foods like fish, nuts, and certain grains like flaxseed. Because krill oil naturally contains higher levels of these beneficial nutrients, it has been shown to have a number of health benefits as well.
Numerous studies have linked the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and krill oil to cardiovascular health. They found that those who ingest higher amounts of these nutrients have a lower risk of coronary artery disease, a potentially lower risk of stroke, and lower cholesterol levels. Another study found that krill oil supplements offer a safe alternative to fish oil for those looking for cardiovascular benefits in a smaller and more convenient form.
Krill oil supplementation has also been found to reduce symptoms of knee and joint pain.
In addition, research found that rats given krill oil supplements showed improved cognitive function and benefited from antidepressant effects. However, more research is needed into its effect on the development and function of the human brain.
How to choose the right krill oil supplement
There is important information to always look out for when purchasing a krill oil supplement. Here are some tips for comparing brands and reading labels.
Always check any supplement to see if it has undergone third-party laboratory tests for quality and safety. This is especially important for fish or krill oil to make sure it doesn’t contain harmful compounds like mercury.
Pay attention to the amount of krill oil that is in each capsule and serving (as these can sometimes be different). You should choose supplements that contain between 200 mg and 350 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving for the best results.
Make it a priority to learn where the brand of krill oil comes from. We recommend brands that use sustainably harvested Antarctic krill oil as the harvesting process is more strictly regulated by different groups.
This is good advice for any supplement, but make sure that the krill oil you choose does not contain any unwanted or unnecessary ingredients. All of our recommendations only contain the krill oil and the capsule it contains.
When comparing krill oil supplements, here are some key things to look out for on any label:
- Supplementary facts – Find information about the amount of krill oil in each capsule, how many capsules make a serving, and how many omega-3s and other nutrients are in the supplement.
- Other ingredients – This list, at the end of the supplementary information table, tells you what the capsule itself is made of and if there are any additional ingredients.
- Certifications – Check the label for key certifications and seals of approval that can tell you whether a krill oil is IKOS certified, has been lab tested by third parties, or is sustainably harvested.
How to Use Krill Oil Supplements
Krill oil supplements usually come in capsules that you swallow with water. For most brands, 2 to 3 capsules make up a single serving, and you can take a serving either once or twice a day. Some brands recommend that their supplements be taken with food to aid digestion and absorption.
Safety & Side Effects
While krill oil supplements are generally considered safe for most adults, it is extremely important to note that you shouldn’t take krill oil if you are allergic to shellfish. The possible side effects of krill oil are considered mild and similar to fish oils, including:
- stomach pain
- Fishy taste
Fish oils and krill oils can also interact with certain drugs. If you are on a prescription drug, speak to your doctor before adding krill oil supplements to your diet.