Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil vs. Cod Liver Oil – Myths BUSTED!

Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil vs. Cod Liver Oil: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to taking a daily dose of fish oil, the amount of information that is available on the variety of brands and products is overwhelming. What it really boils down to is which fish oil is right for you and your body’s needs, but how can you know which one is right for you? The truth is that there are many differences between brands, fish types, and the way the products are processed. The same fish oil, processed two different ways, can provide different benefits. One thing rings true for all fish oils, however: the quality of the fish oil is what really counts.

People have long eaten fish as part of their regular diet. Today’s busy lifestyle doesn’t always allow people to prepare fresh foods, including fish, in order to get the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need to be healthy and strong. The health industry has developed a number of ways to deal with the lacking diets of most westerners, and they created supplements, which usually come in capsule form. Supplements provide our bodies with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy in a small, convenient, and easy-to-take pill. The debate is still out on whether or not we are really too busy to eat a nutritious meal, but the fact remains that people are all strapped for time these days, and supplements fill in for the poor diets we often entertain. Fish oil, which comes from many different kinds of fish, is one of the solutions the health industry has come up with to help people get more essential fatty acids and to provide our bodies with nutrients it cannot produce on its own.

Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced by the body naturally, and the body can’t derive Omega-3 from Omega-6 fatty acids. So in order to get these essential fats in our diet, we have to actually eat foods that contain them. As above, we don’t always do a great job of getting what we need from our food, so we supplement with fish oils. Fish oils, of varying types, contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as many other healthy nutrients. But how do you know which fish oil is right for you? Let’s look at three types of fish oil to see how they are similar, how they are different and what they can do to improve your overall health so you can make a choice about which fish oil capsule and supplement is right for you.

Krill Oil

Krill oil has become one of the most popular fish oils on the market today, but krill is not actually a fish: it is a crustacean. These crustaceans eat phytoplankton and serve as food for a whale on the food chain. Krill oil is rich in EPA and DHA. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid, and DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. These are what we commonly refer to as Omega fatty acids. This is what most people are hoping to get out of consuming fish oils, krill oils and other fish products, such as filets of salmon or other fatty fish. Krill oil offers a superior supply of these Omega fatty acids because of the phospholipids that are found in the polyunsaturated fats in the krill oil. They are superior in krill oil because they can be used immediately by the body, instead of having to be processed as triglycerides found in other types of fish oils. Your body doesn’t have to work harder to benefit from the fatty acids found in krill oil.

Why Should you Take Krill Oil?

This type of oil also includes a powerful antioxidant — which is also very comforting to consumers — called astaxanthin, which protects the fatty acids from oxidizing in your body, reducing the effect of the krill oil. The presence of the astaxanthin and the phospholipids make krill oil very stable, and it tends to have more of an impact on people’s health than ordinary fish oil. While it is true that consumers can get Omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable-based products, such as those found in flax oil, studies have shown that less than 4% of the fatty acid Alpha-linolenic Acid is converted into DHA, which means it is not as effective as krill oil. What’s more, some vegetable-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids also contain an inflammatory acid that can cause more harm than good. The krill oil remains the most stable and efficient source of Omega-3 fatty acids when compared with vegetable oils and common fish oils.

What to Watch Out For When Buying Krill Oil

Consumers need to be aware of the varying degree of quality that can be found on the market today. Unfortunately, it’s hard to regulate and determine the quality of krill oils because manufacturers often use a small amount of real krill and a lot of cheaper fish scraps to make their “krill oil” products. When you are reading the labels of the products you are interested in taking, be sure to check for the percentage of krill being used in the manufacturing process. Check for evidence of lesser fish oils present in the product and try to buy only products that offer 100% krill oil.

The Benefits of Taking Krill Oil

The benefits of taking krill oil on a regular basis are staggering. There have been numerous studies conducted in the health industry to determine just how effective krill oil is on a number of diseases, conditions, and injuries. Here are just a few of the health benefits of taking krill oil regularly as part of your overall diet plan.

There is staggering evidence on the effects of heart health associated with taking krill oil. The evidence is positive and has shown that taking fatty fish oils, such as krill oil, can reduce the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular emergencies, such as a stroke. There have been studies done to show that taking 100% krill oil products can improve heart health to the optimal levels recommended by the American Heart Association. The benefits of krill oil on heart health are increased levels of DHA and EPA, the fatty acids that our bodies need.

When it comes to helping people with chronic pain, arthritis suffers found that taking krill oil on a regular basis reduced the amount of pain, stiffness, and loss of function they experienced on a regular basis. Inflammation that was present in people suffering from arthritis was reduced, and over 30% of patients experienced relief better than those who were taking other forms of oil and placebos. In general, fatty fish oils are used as replacements for more classically trusted supplements, such as glucosamine.

For women, the discomfort and pain associated with premenstrual symptoms can be difficult to manage. Women have started to turn to fatty fish oils, such as krill oil, to help reduce the symptoms of PMS and they have found that krill oil was very effective in contributing to reducing the pain and discomfort of joint pain, breast tenderness and the emotional side effects of PMS.

What’s more, some people avoid taking krill or other fatty fish oils that contain valuable Omega-3 fatty acids, because they are afraid of getting “fishy” breath. There are several ways to avoid getting the dreaded fish breath, and these include freezing your fish oil capsules before taking them, always take them at the start of a meal, and obviously, try buying an odorless brand. Fortunately for those who choose to take krill oil, it has been shown to have less of a smell or odor than other cheaper forms of fish oil and can reduce the worry of taking fish oil products in general.

Cod Liver Oil

Another popular type of fatty fish oil, and one that has been around much longer than krill oil is known as cod liver oil. You’ve probably heard horror stories from older family members about how they used to have to choke down cod liver oil to stay healthy when they were kids. Cod liver oil has been used for decades to help “cure” the common cold, improve joint pain, and some believe it has helped pregnant women go into labor. With its multitude of uses, it’s obvious health benefits and its wide availability; cod liver oil is worth considering in your supplement regime. Let’s look at what makes it so useful and how it can help your health improve overall.

Containing vitamins A, D, and F, cod liver oil is derived from the livers of cod fish. It provides a range of fatty acids that are essential for brain and heart health. The trouble with cod liver oil, like krill oil, is that you need to watch out for quality products.

Why Should You Take Cod Liver Oil?

Like krill oil, cod liver oil provides valuable benefits to a person’s overall health. And like krill oil, cod liver oil provides people with essential fatty acids that they cannot get in their regular diets. Our bodies don’t make Omega-3 fatty acids, and so we need to get them from the food or supplements we take. But there is no reason to take both krill oil and cod liver oil. You may find that one is helpful at a particular time in your life and then you’ll switch to the other for different and varying effects. What’s more, depending on why you want to take fish oil supplements, you may choose one over the other. Cod liver oil is an excellent choice if you suffer from chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, or if you are looking to improve vitamin absorption.

What to Watch Out for When Buying Cod Liver Oil?

Buying cod liver oil supplements require paying attention to the quality of the product. Some cod liver oil products are so synthesized that they have been stripped of their health benefits altogether. Many cod liver oil products do not contain natural vitamin A or D, and it is relatively rare to find a brand that does offer natural vitamins A and D. However, a “virgin” cod liver oil will offer natural vitamins because it is not as processed as other forms of cod liver oil.

Manufacturing varies amongst producers as well, and many companies will use processes such as heating, mixing with chemicals, vacuum pressurization, bleaching, adding flavor, microfiltration, and more to create an “affordable” cod liver oil product that returns big bucks for the manufacturer. If you are interested in taking cod liver oil, consider a fermented cod liver oil product. Fermenting allows the oil to maintain its fat soluble vitamins and they don’t become damaged during the cooling process. Unlike heating, which strips the oil of its nutrients, fermenting (or cooling) maintains those healthy levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients such as Vitamin A and D.

What’s more, cod liver oil products should contain a high percentage of cod liver oil and not substantial percentages of cheaper fish oils. This is common in the supplement industry: manufacturers will give you the minimum required amount to call it “cod liver oil” but you won’t get the full effects of a 100% oil product.

The Benefits of Taking Cod Liver Oil

The benefits of taking cod liver oil are too numerous to mention in this article. This type of oil has been long trusted as a go-to for multiple ailments and conditions. Here are just a few of the many benefits of regular cod liver oil ingestion.

One of the primary reasons consumers turn to fatty fish oils is to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with chronic conditions such as arthritis. Cod liver oil has been used as a way to lessen the amount of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that patients take on a regular basis, and patients report feeling better overall.

When people suffer from conditions that can cause bone loss, such as osteoporosis, taking a regular regime of cod liver oil can help improve vitamin D absorption so that people experience greater bone density and reduced pain associated with the disease. Vitamin D intake is particularly important for people living in parts of the world that experience extended periods of sunless times, and women who are pre-menopausal.

Cardiovascular disorders can be improved by taking cod liver oil according to one study that used diabetic rats; the study found that the endothelial deficiencies of the rats improved when given cod liver oil. What’s more, people who experience pain from diabetes may find relief in the pain relieving remedies of cod liver oil.

Some people believe that cod liver oil is effective in preventing disease and illness as well; many children have grown up taking cod liver oil butter or capsules as part of their regular diet because their parents grew up with it. There is some evidence that suggests Multiple Sclerosis and other conditions can be reduced later in life by taking cod liver oil regularly as a child.

Finally, cod liver oil has been shown to improve wound healing, increase breast milk production in new mothers, reduce joint pain and stiffness in people involved in traumatic accidents such as hip fractures, increase birth weight for new babies, reduce respiratory infections in children, improve absorption of Vitamin D from other sources, and more. The list of health benefits of taking cod liver oil goes on and on.

Common Fish Oil

While krill oil is made from crustaceans, and cod liver oil is made from the liver of cod fish, standard fish oil is made from processing the flesh of a variety of fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, whale and seal blubber, and leftover cod. The term “fish oil” is a generic term for scraps or whole fish that are used to create an oil product that contains EPA and DHA. Generic fish oil doesn’t usually contain vitamins unless they are synthetically added as part of the overall manufacturing process.

Fish oil, in general, is a lesser product on the market and does not perform as well as specific fish oils such as krill oil or cod liver oil. Because it’s hard to determine the source of the oil for most fish oil products, it is also difficult to test the effectiveness in the products because they range so greatly. One product might have a lot of vitamins added and be helpful in managing pain, while another, lesser product will be made from fish scraps that do not provide health benefits. It’s a shot in the dark.

Why Should You Take Fish Oil?

As with krill oil and cod liver oil products, fish oil, in general, can help improve the overall health of a person, but the quality offered by generic fish oil products can be up and down. However, an excellent quality fish oil product is full of Omega-3 fatty acids and can help improve the absorption of other vitamins if taken separately. Whether we like it or not, fatty acids are difficult to get into our diets, and fish oil supplements offer an easy and effective way to get the daily recommended dose of Omega-3 for optimal health.

What to Watch Out for When Buying Fish Oil

You should know that generic fish oil products do not contain vitamins and so if you are looking to improve “overall health,” you need to purchase a fish oil product that has added vitamins. Because the types of fish used in general or common fish oil products are varying, the distillation process used to create generic fish oil leaves the product lacking in valuable nutrients. What’s more, the fish oil on most store shelves today is heated to such high temperatures to remove harmful heavy metals and contaminants absorbed by the fish, that much of the product that remains needs to be heavily supplemented with chemicals and additives.

If you find that the fish oil capsules you have purchased make your breath smell bad or make you burp frequently, these are signs of poorly made fish oil capsules, and you should move on to try another higher quality product.

Furthermore, ordinary fish oil has a shelf life, and it can break down quickly if it is not stored properly and used before its “best before date.” It lacks antioxidants, and that makes it susceptible to breaking down faster than krill oil or cod liver oil.

What are the Benefits of Taking Fish Oil?

Generic or common fish oil products are beneficial to people because they contain Omega-3 fatty acids; however, because they lack antioxidants, people may find that they need to take other supplements to help get a complete balance of nutrients and fatty acids in their diets. Still though, improving Omega-3 fatty acids through taking fish oil has its benefits.

Fish oil can help reduce pain and swelling associated with chronic pain conditions, injury or sudden onset of illness. What’s more, people who suffer from dry skin or chronic conditions such as psoriasis and eczema may find some relief because of the high concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, fatty acids can help prevent blood clots from forming and can contribute to improving the condition of people who are suffering from heart conditions and other cardiovascular issues.

Major Differences Between Krill, Cod Liver and Fish Oil

For overall effectiveness and health benefits, consumers may want to invest in a routine of krill oil or cod liver oil. Because fish oil lacks in so many nutrients and vitamins, it is almost not worth spending your money in because it will cost you even more money to supplement the supplement. There are still diehard believers of fish oil out there, and the market is big enough for all kinds of supplements, so if you are sticking to your guns about taking fish oil, know that it is a flawed product from the start and be ready to invest in more supplements to manage your overall health.

When it comes to the sources of these common supplement oils, krill oil is derived from the small crustaceans called Krill, and cod liver oil stems from the livers of cod. Fish oil, taken from the flesh of a variety of fish differs from both of the other supplements because it’s a toss up what kind of fish your oil is going to be made of. If you are looking for a consistent product, krill oil and cod liver oil are better choices than common fish oil.

In terms of the health benefits, cod liver oil boasts the most document health benefits — probably because it has been on the market for so long — and many years before there was a “market” and fishermen would use the whole cod fish to live off of, they would make their own oils. There is an interesting history associated with cod liver oil in terms of how long it has been around and how long people have trusted it to help them feel better. Krill oil, while newer than cod liver oil, offers many benefits to the consumer, but more study is needed to determine the long term effects of how krill impacts people’s health overall.

Side Effects of Fish Supplements

When you decide to start a supplement regimen, it is best to talk to your doctor or naturopath before taking any new supplement or product that could impact your health and other medications. Krill oil, cod liver oil and conventional fish oil have the potential to cause a series of side effects, just like any medication that would be prescribed by your doctor. These are listed below for your consideration.

Potential Side Effects of Krill Oil

Some people may experience a slight fishy aftertaste when burping. While krill oil is far less “fishy” than common fish oil, or even cod liver oil, it can still cause the classic fish taste in a person’s mouth from time to time. Another common side effect is nausea and upset stomach, as well as diarrhea or loose stools. If someone has a seafood allergy, especially to shellfish, they should avoid taking fish oil products of any kind. If you are due for surgery, stop taking krill oil because it is known to slow blood clotting agents in the body. Be sure to always tell your doctor about any medications and all supplements you are taking so they can anticipate any issues during your surgery or treatment regimes.

Potential Side Effect of Cod Liver Oil

Common side effects of taking cod liver oil include many of the same side effects as taking krill oil, including nausea, upset stomach, loose stools; but also, people may experience nosebleeds, decreased ability for the blood to clot properly, and in higher doses, cod liver oil can be dangerous. What’s more, cod liver oil can cause high blood pressure and can reduce blood pressure to dangerous levels if you are already on high blood pressure medication. The safety of taking cod liver oil during pregnancy is not entirely clear, and it should be avoided if possible during pregnancy. It’s best to check with your doctor before starting or stopping any supplement routine to ensure there are no side effects or contraindications for taking the cod liver oil.

Potential Side Effects of Fish Oil

With higher doses of fish oil, there is a chance that clotting agents will be affected and there is an increased risk of bleeding for people. What’s more, with cheaper versions of fish oil, the consumer is at a greater danger of ingesting mercury or other heavy metals that can cause illness. Contaminated fish oil can cause brain damage, blindness, and seizures if taken in higher doses or if given to children in higher doses. There are also a number of conditions that may be impacted by taking common fish oil over time; these include impacts on bipolar disorder, which can increase the effects of symptoms. As well, fish oil can alter the effects of symptoms of depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, AIDS/HIV, and fish oil may cause problems for people who have an implanted defibrillator (pacemaker).

Choosing Krill Oil, Cod Liver Oil, or Common Fish Oil

Whether you want to take fish supplements to help your overall health, or because you want to try to target a specific health aspect, such as reducing inflammation related to arthritis, you need as much information as possible to make an informed decision. With all of the information available today, it is sometimes easier to just ask someone what they would recommend. If you are still unsure of what are the best options for you and your optimal health, consult with your doctor or your child’s doctor. You need to know what the benefits of taking fish oils are, what the risks of taking fish oils are, what the concerns are for taking fish oils such as how they are manufactured, and why you should take fish oil supplements, to begin with. Armed with this information, krill oil, cod liver oil and common fish oil is easier to navigate and determine which one is best for you.

If you are looking for a fulsome supplement product that can offer you a variety of health benefits with limited risks, you’ll want to go with krill oil supplements. Because of their complete supplement offering, there is no need for additional supplements to maximize the benefits of this popular fish oil product. Because it doesn’t have that “fishy” smell and aftertaste that is common in cod liver oil capsules, it is a more discreet choice for people — especially people who don’t consume fish as part of their diet. It actually makes the thought of taking a fish supplement more feasible because you won’t be left feeling like you just ate a slab of fish.

When you actually start taking fish oil supplements, pay attention to how you are feeling, the presence of any side effects, and follow the directions for consumption carefully to avoid overdosing and causing unwanted side effects. Talk to your doctor or naturopath to ensure fish oil supplements are right for you and incorporate fish oil supplements as part of your overall diet to help you achieve optimal health.