Krill Oil (vs. Fish Oil): Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects


Krill Oil (vs. Fish Oil): Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects
Krill oil is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when used appropriately for a short amount of time (up to three months). The most common side effects of krill oil are stomach-related and similar to those of fish oil.

These effects include stomach discomfort, decreased appetite, taste change, heartburn, fishy burps, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and nausea. Taking krill oil by mouth might also cause facial skin to become oilier or to break out. In very rare cases, krill oil might increase blood pressure.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of krill oil during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bleeding disorders: Because krill oil can slow blood clotting, there is concern that it might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders. Until more is known, people with such conditions should use krill oil cautiously.

Diabetes: Krill oil might lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use krill oil.

Obesity: Krill oil might lower how well insulin works in people who are overweight or obese. This might increase the risk of developing diabetes or heart disease.

Seafood allergy: Some people who are allergic to seafood might also be allergic to krill oil supplements. There is no reliable information showing how ly people with seafood allergy are to have an allergic reaction to krill oil; however, until more is known, avoid using krill oil or use it cautiously if you have a seafood allergy.

Surgery: Because krill oil can slow blood clotting, there is concern that it might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using krill oil at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs interacts with KRILL OILKrill oil might slow blood clotting. Taking krill oil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
  • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) interacts with KRILL OILOrlistat (Xenical, Alli) is used for weight loss. It prevents dietary fats from being absorbed from the gut. There is some concern that orlistat (Xenical, Alli) might also decrease absorption of krill oil when they are taken together. To avoid this potential interaction take orlistat (Xenical, Alli) and krill oil at least 2 hours apart.



  • For dry eyes: Krill oil (Nutra-Life OceanClean red krill oil) providing 945 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and 510 mg of docosahexaenoic acid daily for 90 days has been used.

View References

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Krill oil vs fish oil: Which is better and why?

Krill Oil (vs. Fish Oil): Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects

Krill oil and fish oil supplements are two sources of omega-3 fatty acids including DHA and EPA. While oil from both krill and fish provide health benefits, their origin, price, and benefits may differ.

Fish oil comes from oily fish, such as tuna, herring, or sardines. Krill oil comes from a small, shrimp- animal called krill.

Krill oil has a distinctive red color, while fish oil supplements are typically yellow or gold. Krill oil is usually more expensive than fish oil.

While each supplement type contains omega-3 fatty acids, taking each supplement type presents various risks and benefits. Read on to find out more.

Both krill oil and fish oil contain omega-3 fatty acids. Some of the most popular and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

When a person consumes these fatty acids in fish, they demonstrate supportive effects on overall heart health and a reduction in the risks of heart attack and coronary artery disease.

However, while research has shown eating whole fish can have heart-protecting benefits, scientific studies have not yet proven that taking omega-3 supplements offers the same benefits as eating fish.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) state that the specific benefits of taking omega-3 supplements include:

  • Reducing high triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels have links to an increased risk for heart disease.
  • Relieving rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence suggests that omega-3 supplements may help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Relieving dry eye symptoms. Some people use omega-3 supplements to help improve eye moisture and reduce the symptoms of dry eye disease. However, large-scale studies have found that taking omega-3 supplements are no better than a placebo for eye dryness, so more research is necessary.

Drug stores and online supermarkets sell both fish oil and krill oil supplements.

A study from 2011 compared the effects of fish and krill oil, finding that they resulted in similar blood levels of EPA and DHA. However, people took 3 grams (g) of krill oil and only 1.8 g of fish oil, which may suggest that a person needs to take almost twice as much krill oil as fish oil to get the same benefits.

According to the study’s authors, 30–65 percent of krill oil’s fatty acids are stored as phospholipids, while the fatty acids in fish oils are instead stored primarily as triglycerides.

The researchers suggest that the body may able to use fatty acids stored as phospholipids more easily. However, despite this possibility, a person may still have to take more krill oil capsules than fish oil to get an equivalent amount of omega-3s.

The amount and concentration of omega-3 in krill and fish oil also vary depending on the product. Some krill oil manufacturers claim that the krill oil omega-3s are better absorbed than fish oil omega-3s, so a lower concentration works just as well. However, there is no current proof that this statement is true.

Another small-scale study published in 2013 found that after 4 weeks of taking only one of the supplements, krill oil led to higher levels of EPA and DHA in a person’s blood compared with fish oil. Although both supplements increased levels of healthful omega-3 fatty acids, they also increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Studies are not consistent, though. A study from 2015 found no differences in krill oil and fish oil in the blood after 4 weeks of taking supplements.

While some research suggests that the body might better absorb krill oil, other studies find no difference between fish and krill oil. More research is therefore needed.

The above research only looks effects of the oil on blood levels, which is just one marker of their potential benefits. No study has compared these products to see if one works better than the other for the specific uses that people are interested in, such as bodybuilding or promoting heart health.

Share on PinterestOmega-3 supplements present no significant risks, but a person may experience bad breath as a result.

Taking omega-3 supplements in the forms of krill oil and fish oil does not appear to carry any significant side effects.

Minor side effects may include:

  • bad breath
  • diarrhea
  • a headache
  • heartburn
  • unpleasant-smelling sweat
  • upset stomach

Also, omega-3 supplements, such as krill oil and fish oil, have the potential to interact negatively with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin).

This is because omega-3 fatty acids have mild anticoagulant or blood-thinning effects. However, a person must usually take between 3 and 6 g of fish oil a day for these adverse interactions to occur.

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) advises no established upper limit for taking omega-3 supplements. However, taking dosages of more than 900 milligrams (mg) of EPA and 600 mg of DHA a day can reduce a person’s immune system by suppressing natural inflammatory responses.

According to the ODS, daily intakes for omega-3 fatty acids are about 1.6 g per day for men and 1.1 g per day for women.

The ODS also recommend not exceeding 2 g of EPA and DHA a day from dietary supplements. A person should read supplement labels carefully to determine how much of each substance is in each capsule.

Share on PinterestOmega-3 may help to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

According to the ODS, an estimated 7.8 percent of adults and 1.1 percent of children in the United States take omega-3 fatty acid supplements in the forms of fish oil, krill oil, or animal-free alternatives, such as algal oil or flaxseed oil.

The evidence is still inconclusive about whether krill oil works as well as or better than fish oil. So far, most of the research on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids has been carried out using fish oil. Not a lot of research is currently available on krill oil.

Taking omega-3 supplements can offer benefits in terms of lowering triglyceride levels and reducing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However, the evidence is inconclusive regarding whether they can reduce heart disease or improve overall cardiovascular health to the same extent as eating whole fish.

According to the NIH, eating oily fish, including tuna and salmon, can offer a greater variety of nutrients than supplements and has demonstrated improvements in heart health.

On balance, taking either krill oil or fish oil supplements can help boost a person’s overall levels of omega-3 fatty acids, though whether one is better than the other is currently unclear.

What are the best supplements for heart health?

Getting your daily nutritional needs from a healthful diet is always the healthiest option.

A person can take supplements in addition to healthy dietary choices and nutrient-dense foods. They should not use supplements as a replacement for nutritious meals.

People with heart disease may benefit from an omega-3 fatty acid supplement if diet alone is not sufficient. As always, consult a healthcare professional before beginning any new supplement.

Katherine Marengo LDN, RD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.


Krill Oil (vs. Fish Oil): Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects

Krill Oil (vs. Fish Oil): Benefits, Dosage & Side Effects

Krill oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. It can improve blood lipids, help with diabetes, and protect the eyes and joints. It offers similar benefits to fish oil and certain advantages, but there are important limitations to consider. Keep reading to learn more about krill oil benefits, safety profile, and optimal doses.

What is Krill Oil?

Krill oil is extracted from Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a small shellfish similar to shrimp [1].

Krill can be made into oil, powder, and protein concentrate products. Krill oil is a sustainable source of omega-3s; it is high in protein and low in saturated fat [1, 2].

People use it for high blood lipids, heart health, cognitive and mental improvement, immunity, and more. Results from animal studies provide valuable information on this supplement, but clinical evidence is limited [1].

Fatty Acids

The fat content of krill oil ranges from 12 to 50% of its total weight. In the spring, krill’s fat content is lower because of the lack of food and is higher in the summer and fall when food is abundant [2].

In whole krill, omega-3s (primarily EPA and DHA) are 19% of its total fat [2].

The phospholipids (fats with a phosphate group) in krill oil protect membranes from free radicals and prevent cell damage [3].

Other fatty acids in krill oil include [4]:

  • Myristic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Stearic acid
  • Behenic acid

Vitamins and Antioxidants

Krill oil also contains Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B9 (folate), and Vitamin B12 [2].

Krill oil also contains choline, which transports fats and reduces homocysteine [1].

Additionally, krill oil contains astaxanthin, a fat-soluble pigment and powerful antioxidant. However, astaxanthin levels in krill oil may be too low to provide health benefits [2].

The Endocannabinoid System

Endocannabinoids stimulate the immune system and play roles in motivation, mood, and memory. Issues with the endocannabinoid system can cause heart, weight, blood sugar problems, anxiety, depression, learning problems, and memory loss [1].

Omega-3 consumption restores normal endocannabinoid system function [1].

In rats, krill oil reduces high endocannabinoid levels, endocannabinoid receptor activity, and fat accumulation [1].

Although reduced endocannabinoid activity in the brain can be harmful, krill oil does not cause any negative cognitive effects [1].

Inflammatory Cytokines

Omega-3s, especially EPA, lowers inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNF-α, making krill oil anti-inflammatory [5].

1) Blood Lipids

In a meta-analysis of 7 trials and 662 participants, krill oil supplementation (1-3 g daily) significantly reduced LDL (-15.52 mg/dL) and increased HDL (+6.65 mg/dL) cholesterol; it also reduced triglycerides (-14.03 mg/dL). The effects on total cholesterol were insignificant [6].

Krill oil reduced cholesterol in healthy rats, rats with high levels of fat in the blood, and rats fed a high-cholesterol diet [1, 7].

Compared to fish oil, the level of clinical evidence is still insufficient for any definite conclusions.

2) Arthritis

In one study of 90 heart disease and/or arthritis patients, daily krill oil reduced joint pain (38%), stiffness (39%), and functional impairment (36%) [3].

In another study of 50 patients, krill oil improved mild knee pain and range of motion [8].

Omega-3s from krill oil reduced inflammatory cytokine levels and helped prevent arthritis in a study on mice [9].

In another mouse study, it reduced arthritis symptoms and development but did not lower inflammatory cytokines [9].

3) Diabetes

In a trial of 120 patients with high blood lipids, krill oil (1-3 g) daily significantly improved lipid profile and reduced blood glucose [10].

In 48 participants with type 2 diabetes, krill oil reduced insulin resistance after four weeks [11].

It reduced blood glucose levels and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in a couple of animal studies [12, 13].

4) Dry Eye

Low omega-3 intake was associated with dry eye disease (eye pain and vision loss) in a study of 32,000 women [14].

In a trial of 54 participants, krill oil reduced dry eye symptoms, inflammation, and eye redness. Further research is warranted [14].

Insufficient Evidence:

No valid clinical evidence supports the use of krill oil for any of the conditions in this section. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal studies, cell-based research, or low-quality clinical trials which should spark further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.

5) Inflammation

In a study of 90 heart disease and arthritis patients, krill oil reduced C-reactive protein, a major marker of inflammation [3].

Krill oil lowers TNF-α (inflammation marker) in mice fed a high-fat diet [15, 1].

In rats with colitis, krill oil reduced oxidative damage and colon inflammation [16].

Astaxanthin in krill oil blocks nitric oxide and TNF-alpha production. However, astaxanthin levels in krill oil may be too low to provide health benefits [1, 3, 2].

6) Cognitive Function

Omega-3s from krill oil help protect the brain. DHA is essential for brain development and EPA improves behavior and mood [17].

Phospholipids from krill oil have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They reduce oxidative damage in the brain and help prevent cognitive decline and mental disorders [17, 18].

In a study of 45 elderly males, krill oil enhanced the function of brain areas that perform calculations and working memory tasks. The authors underlined higher phospholipid content as a potential advantage of krill over fish oil. However, the clinical significance of these results is not clear [19].

7) PMS

In a study of 70 young women, krill oil significantly reduced pain and improved the emotional symptoms of PMS, such as stress, depression, and irritability [20].

More research is needed to verify the beneficial effects of krill oil on PMS symptoms.

1) Better Absorption

In two studies of healthy volunteers (115 and 12 participants), the krill oil group absorbed more EPA than the fish oil group. However, DHA absorption was the same [21, 22].

2) Better Nutrient Profile

The EPA and DHA in krill oil are in the form of phospholipids (fats with a phosphate group), while in fish oil, they are in the form of triglycerides. Phospholipids enhance omega-3 absorption while triglycerides do not [23].

Additionally, the phospholipids in krill oil protect membranes from free radicals and prevent cell damage [3].

Krill oil also contains astaxanthin, a pigment that protects the unsaturated bonds in EPA and DHA from oxidative damage [2, 24].

3) Other

People commonly complain about the large size of fish oil capsules. Krill oil capsules are smaller and more suitable for people with difficulty swallowing [25].

Additionally, the major concern of fish oil is its mercury content. Krill oil is generally cleaner and less polluted than fish oil, but this greatly depends on the source and product manufacturer [26, 27].


Krill oil is more expensive than fish oil because it must be immediately processed to prevent spoiling [25].

Given this risk of spoiling and the lack of rigorous safety controls, krill oil quality might not be as good as prescription fish oil [25].

Additionally, krill oil is relatively new on the market. It has less clinical evidence backing up the health benefits and a less known safety profile. The American Heart Association does not yet recognize krill oil as an omega-3 supplement [25, 24].

Krill Oil Side Effects & Precautions

Krill oil is possibly safe in doses up to 4 grams, when used up to 3 months. Common side effects are mild and include [28, 29]:

  • Headache
  • Bad/fishy breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Constipation


People who are allergic to crustaceans and shellfish (shrimp/crabs) may experience adverse reactions [6].

Storage can cause krill shells to increase fluoride levels and their effects on human health are not clear yet [30].

Drug Interactions

Supplement-drug interactions can be dangerous and, in rare cases, even life-threatening. Always consult your doctor before supplementing and let them know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.

Krill oil might increase the effectiveness of blood thinners and may, in theory, increase the risk of bleeding [6, 31].

Gene Interactions

In mice, krill oil decreases genes responsible for liver glucose production (SLC2A2 and PCK1). However, it did not decrease blood glucose levels [32].

Krill oil also affects genes involved in body fat production [33].


  • SLC2A2
  • PCK1
  • HNF4A
  • SREBF1
  • SREBF2
  • ACADVL [32]


The below doses may not apply to you personally. If your doctor suggests using krill oil, work with them to find the optimal dosage according to your health condition and other factors.

Currently, there is no recommended dose for krill oil. Safe and effective doses in clinical trials ranged from 1-3 g daily [3, 6].

The American Heart Association recommends 250 to 500 mg of EPA + DHA each day. The amount of fatty acids in krill oil depends on the type and brand but typically ranges between 180 and 250 mg EPA and DHA (combined) per capsule [24, 1].

User Reviews

The opinions expressed in this section are solely from the users who may or may not have a medical background. SelfDecode does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment. Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on SelfDecode.

Users report positive results with krill oil for hormonal issues, joint pain, PMS, weight loss, heart health, and more. Some claim it’s more effective than fish oil and doesn’t cause bloating and fish burps.

On the other hand, some folks still complain about these side effects and can’t tell a difference between krill and fish oil.