When you’re looking at ways to stay healthy, every nutritionist recommends including superfood omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, and fish oil or krill oil supplements are an easy way to incorporate these essential nutrients. “Omega-3 Fatty acids, commonly known as fish oils, are a group of essential polyunsaturated fats which means that our body can’t produce them and therefore they must be obtained through food or supplements,” says nutrition and lifestyle coach Saba Stone.
With their myriad of health benefits, from enhancing heart health, to helping to alleviate depression and supporting clear, healthy skin, it might be time to consider adding fish oil, krill oil, or plant-based alternatives like algae oil and flaxseed oil into your diet.
What is fish oil and krill oil?
Fish oil is derived from oily fish like salmon, tuna, herring, and
sardines, whereas krill oil comes from a shrimp-like crustacean called
krill. Both ocean-derived supplements boast high levels of omega-3 to
support your health, and two of the key omega-3s that they’re both rich
in are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Stone tells us, "There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are found in dark oily
fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel although choose Atlantic
mackerel because king mackerel is higher in contaminants.
acid (ALA) – this is found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds such as
flaxseed oil, walnuts, and chia seeds. It is also found in dairy
products of animals fed on grass – in much smaller amounts though. The
conversion rate of ALA in our body to EPA and DHA is very limited and
for this very reason vegetarians need to have omega-3 supplements to
close the gap in EPA and DHA deficiency.” So why do we need EPA and
What are the benefits of Omega-3s in fish oil and krill oil?
“When omega-3 fatty acids are consumed through our diet, they are
incorporated into the cell membranes of all tissues in our body. They
also take part in the production of hormones that regulate blood
clotting and are anti-inflammatory. They have been shown to help prevent
cardiovascular diseases, help control skin inflammation, and reduce
acne breakouts. Clinical study results have shown that omega-3
supplementation may contribute to the improvement of general skin
Is fish oil or krill oil better?
“Whilst both contain similar amounts of EPA and DHA, the structure of
the omega acids in krill oil is in phospholipids form – different from
the ones in fish oil which is in triglycerides form. Some studies show
that the difference in the structure increases the absorption rate of
fatty acids in krill oil, however, there are not enough research studies
to conclusively support this,” says Stone.
“In addition, krill
oil is a rich source of a super-antioxidant called astaxanthin which is
not present in fish oil. Since fish oil is more widely available, it is
more affordable than krill oil. If you need to supplement your diet with
omega-3 oils and cost is a concern, then fish oil may be a more
Keep our heart healthy
These types of omega-3 fats support a healthy heart and blood
circulation. In countries where people eat more oily fish (and therefore
consume more omega-3 fats) like Japan, Greenland, and the
Mediterranean, fewer people have heart disease compared to places where
people eat very little oily fish, like the UK. Not only this, but they
also live longer, lead generally healthier lives, and report being
happier, so it could be an indication that oily fish is a food that can
help boost your mood too!
fats DHA and EPA can help protect the blood vessels and heart from
disease. They do this by lowering triglycerides (a fat that enters our
blood after a meal), improving circulation, preventing blood clots,
lowering blood pressure, and keeping the rhythm of your heart steady.
Supports skin barrier function
Omega-3s can support your gut health and provide skin with a glowing
appearance. This is thanks to its ability to regulate skin oil
production, inhibit breakouts, minimize signs of aging, and balance
hydration. If our skin is too dry, it often causes the overproduction of
oil which leads to breakouts.
Research suggests that omega-3
can also boost the skin’s immunity against harmful UV rays, which can
cause premature aging and skin cancer.
Reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Some studies have shown that omega-3 supplements like fish or krill oil
can help to reduce pain, ease morning stiffness and alleviate joint
tenderness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies suggest
that taking them can reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medications,
which is often what GPs prescribe for joint pain. Other natural sources
of anti-inflammatories include turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic.
Could improve depression and PMS symptoms
Despite more research being needed, recent studies suggest that
increasing omega-3 in your diet can make significant improvements to the
symptoms of depression. Your brain needs the types of fatty acids in
omega-3s to function properly, and it’s thought that those who
experience depression are more deficient in EPA and DHA.
have shown that omega-3 can reduce the psychiatric symptoms of PMS like
depression, anxiety, nervousness, and lack of concentration. They may
also reduce somatic PMS symptoms like headaches, breast tenderness, and
Plant-based omega-3 alternatives
“It is best to get your omega-3 fatty acids from your food as you
will also be intaking a wealth of vitamins and minerals as a well as EPA
and DHA. If you don’t eat fish or other seafood, omega oil supplements
may be beneficial to you. Vegans and vegetarians can supplement their
EPA and DHA deficiency through algae oil supplements.” Flaxseed oil is
also a good plant-based option!
All the benefits sound great,
but how do we choose which one to buy? Stone has given us the ultimate
guide to shopping for omega-3 supplements.
What factors to consider when choosing your omega-3 supplements
- “Purity – Is the supplement purified to eliminate the potential contaminants?”
- “Stability – Is it stabilized so that it does not go rancid?”
“Format – Liquid supplements are easy to swallow whilst it may have
some fishy smell. Capsules may be preferred by those who are averse to
- “Flavour – If flavored, is it natural or artificial?”
- “Allergens – Always check the label for allergen information.”
- “If pregnant, check the label that it is free from Vitamin A or retinol and is safe for pregnancy.”
- “Always read the label and consult with your doctor if you are under medical supervision before taking supplements.”