The great oils debate: fish vs krill vs flax

All omega-3 rich oils and supplements are the same, right? Wrong. The three most popular; fish, krill and flaxseed oils all have their differences and benefits. Here’s what you need to know about each one.

Fish oil: an oldie but a goody, fish oil has been a popular supplement for years, but in the last year we’ve seen a renewed interest in it. And it’s no surprise seeing that fish oil is proven to help a number of ailments.

Made from oily fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna and salmon, fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty-acids – in particular eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your body can’t make these ingredients on its own, so it’s important to get them through diet or supplements such as fish oil liquid or capsules.

Fish oil helps lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and strokes, reduce incidences of depression and Alzheimer’s, as well as helping slow the rates and severity of arthritis and osteoporosis.

The ideal dose of the DHA and EPA is 650mg per day. The current recommended amount of fish consumption is two times a week, which equates to a combined DHA and EPA intake of only 300mg a day. To bridge the gap, supplements are the way to go.

Krill oil:
you would’ve heard a lot lately about the new fishy oil, krill. It is touted as a stronger option than fish oil, where you need to consume fewer capsules than its ocean counterpart, but there is a difference and in fact, you can take both at the same time.

It’s made from Antarctic krill, which are shrimp-like crustaceans. If you’re allergic to shellfish, you should avoid krill.

It’s the extra, naturally occurring ingredients in krill oil that sets it apart from fish oil, namely antioxidants including vitamins A, E and astaxanthin. Antioxidants are the power packages that keep free radicals at bay, but the super strong astaxanthin is reported to help reduce sunburn, treat PMS and period pain, is an anti-inflammatory, boosts immune function and can even make you look younger. With krill oil virtually all of the EPA and DHA are bound to phospholipids making them highly bioavailable in the body (more so than standard fish oil), as the fats in your own cell walls are in this form.

A daily dose of 300mg is recommended.

Flaxseed oil: is another source of omega-3s, but it’s different from fish and krill because it is a plant-derived source. This makes it suitable for vegetarians. Flaxseed oil is also known as linseed oil.

Flax oil is made from the seeds of the flax plant. It contains something that fish and krill oils don’t – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Your body does something pretty incredible with ALA – it converts it to the same type of omega-3s found in fish and krill – EPA and DHA.

Yet it’s the ALA in it that makes it unique and has been reported to help reduce the risk of heart disease and irregular heartbeats.

Flaxseed oil may also strengthen finger and toenails, can improve the absorption of calcium, assist in the treatment of eczema, flaky skin, dandruff and dull hair, increases your metabolic rate and can even help reduce the recovery time of muscles after exercise.

One-to-two tablespoons a day of flaxseed oil is ideal. One tablespoon contains 7g of ALA. You can use flaxseed oil as a salad dressing.

It’s important to remember that when it comes to supplements, you should always consult a health professional first to determine your individual needs.