Fish Oil vs Cod Liver Oil vs Krill Oil: Which Is Better for Your Health?

A woman holding fish oil capsules with the title "Fish Oil Vs Cod Liver Oil Vs Krill Oil: Which is Better For Your Health?"

Fish oil, cod liver oil and krill oil all offer the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, EPA and DHA.

Cod liver oil comes with added nutrition in the form of vitamins A and D. Krill oil is more sustainable than both fish oil and cod liver oil as well as being distinctly more potent.

Best Cod Liver Oil

Cod Liver Oil Capsules - Premium Certified Pure and Fresh - Triple Strength - Heart Healthy - 120 Softgels - Natural Supplement - 240mg of Omega 3 Fatty Acids - No Fishy Taste!

Athelas Neutraceuticals

Natural Cod Liver Oil

Best Fish Oil

Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength, Burpless, Non-GMO, NSF-Certified, 180 Counts

Dr. Tobias

Omega-3 Fish Oil

Best Krill Oil

MegaRed Advanced 4in1 500mg, 80 softgels - Concentrated Omega-3 Fish & Krill Oil Supplement

MegaRed

Omega-3 Fish & Krill Oil

  • 500mg of special combination of high concentration Fish Oil and high absorption Krill Oil
  • 2X more Omega-3s than standard fish oil alone
  • 1 softgel daily supports 4 benefits - heart, joints, brain and eyes

In recent years, it has become more apparent just how important Omega-3 fatty acids are. Unfortunately, most of our diets tend to be lacking in them. Thus, the omega-3 supplement was born.

But which omega-3 is best for your health? Is it cod liver oil? Is fish oil the best? Or is krill oil the number one amongst omega-3s?

In this article I’ll answer all of these questions and more. I’ll also clear up some common misconceptions about overpriced, pollutant-filled pills and tell you all the real facts about these three popular omega-3 supplements.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Why Should We Care?

Cod liver oil, fish oil and krill oil are all genuine quality sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

When you take a supplement filled with these essential fatty acids (EFAs), they are broken down into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

EPA and DHA are responsible for numerous functions within the human body and have a lot to offer both your physical and mental health.

A serious amount of scientific research has gone into the area of omega-3 health benefits and these EFAs have been proven to aid several conditions such as:

EPA and DHA are important for both adults and children. However, research has shown that the majority of Americans do not get enough omega-3s in their diets and therefore, supplementation is a sensible choice for most people. (source)

It is important to remember that all three products offer omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA and DHA. Whichever you choose is a great way to ensure you are getting those all-important essential fatty acids into your diet. The main choice comes down to preference and lifestyle factors.

What is Cod Liver Oil?

Cod liver oil is just that, oil which is extracted from the liver of the cod fish. The livers are steamed and pressed during the extraction process.

The amount of DHA and EPA found in cod liver oil is exactly the same as that in fish oil. The only difference is that because it’s extracted from the liver of the fish, it includes fat soluble vitamins A and D (these vitamins are stored in the liver).

One downside to cod liver oil is that because one of the liver’s jobs is to filter harmful substances and toxins from the body, cod liver oil capsules are more likely to have higher levels of PCBs and other contaminants.

Fish oil capsules in a spoon.

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil is harvested from cold water, oily fish. These can either be deep-water farmed or caught wild. Unlike cod liver oil, the flesh of the fish is pressed to extract the oil.

Sources include:

  • Herring
  • Halibut
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Cod
  • Can also be extracted from seal or whale blubber

What is Krill Oil?

Krill (Euphausia superba) are small crustaceans which are similar in appearance to shrimps.

They feed on plankton and are found in oceans throughout the world, However, most of the Krill harvested for their oil are found in Antarctica.

Krill exist in incredibly large numbers. In fact, the mass of krill living in the Antarctic ocean is more than 500,000,000 tons.

Due to the sheer volume of krill in the oceans, they are incredibly renewable and can easily supply both humans and marine life. This makes krill oil much more sustainable than fish oil or cod liver oil.

When to Choose Cod Liver Oil

Cod Liver Oil Capsules - Premium Certified Pure and Fresh - Triple Strength - Heart Healthy - 120 Softgels - Natural Supplement - 240mg of Omega 3 Fatty Acids - No Fishy Taste!

Athelas Neutraceuticals

Cod Liver Oil Capsules

Nature Made Cod Liver Oil Softgels, 100 ct

Nature Made

Cod Liver Oil Softgels

Carlson Cod Liver Oil, Lightly Lemon, 460 mg Omega-3s, Heart & Immune Health, 150 Soft Gels

Carlson labs

Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil supplements (just like fish oil and krill oil) vary in price depending on the brand.

That said, out of the three types of omega-3 supplements they tend to be the cheapest. For this reason, cod liver oil is a good way to get omega-3s into your diet if you’re on a budget.

Cod liver oil also has the added benefit of offering vitamins like vitamin D. If you usually take a vitamin D supplement, you will save money by combining the two supplements into one.

However, due to the high vitamin A content and possibility of higher levels of PCBs and other contaminants, pregnant and nursing women and children are recommended to try a different option.

Cod Liver Oil Pros

  • Strong doses of EPA and DHA
  • Top brand certified pure and fresh
  • Distilled for purity
  • 100% cod liver oil
  • Added vitamins A and D

Cod Liver Oil Cons

  • Fishy aftertaste
  • Higher risk of contaminants
  • Larger capsules
  • Not suitable for pregnant women

When to Choose Fish Oil

Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength, Burpless, Non-GMO, NSF-Certified, 180 Counts

Dr. Tobias

Omega 3 Fish Oil

Viva Naturals Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement, 180 Capsules - Highly Concentrated Fish Oil Omega 3 Pills, Burpless, 2,200mg Fish Oil/serving (1400mg of EPA & 480 mg of DHA)

Viva Naturals

Omega 3 Fish Oil

Nature Made Fish Oil 1000 mg w. Omega-3 300 mg Softgels 250 Count Mega Size

Nature Made

2659 Fish Oil


Fish oil tends to be a safe bet for most people. It offers a good quality amount of omega-3 fatty acids and is suitable for use by most people. They are usually in the middle of the road when it comes to price.

For someone new to omega-3 supplements looking for a product which the whole family can use, fish oil supplements are a good, reasonably priced choice.

Fish Oil Pros

  • Good doses of EPA and DHA
  • Well priced
  • Suitable for use by adults and children

Fish Oil Cons

  • Fishy aftertaste
  • Large capsules

When to Choose Krill Oil

MegaRed Advanced 4in1 500mg, 80 softgels - Concentrated Omega-3 Fish & Krill Oil Supplement

MegaRed

Omega-3 Fish & Krill Oil

Pure Krill Oil 1000mg w/Astaxanthin & Omega 3 xl (200 Capsule Supplements) Antarctic Sourced Rich in DHA & EPA & Phospholipids, Compare to Omega 3 6 9 Fish Oil Fatty Acids, 100% Purified No Mercury

aSquared Nutrition

Pure Krill Oil

Viva Naturals Premium Antarctic Krill Oil – Omega 3 Supplement with EPA, DHA and Astaxanthin, 1250 mg/Serving, 60 Capsules

Viva Naturals

Krill Oil


Krill oil capsules are the gold standard of omega-3 supplements. Krill oil is better absorbed by the body and therefore can be up to 48 times more potent than fish or cod liver oil.

Krill are also more sustainable, better for the environment and less likely to carry contaminants. Therefore, if you’re looking for the best quality omega-3 supplement, krill is probably the one for you.

The one downfall is that krill oil supplements are significantly more expensive than fish or cod liver oil. This is because the manufacturing process of krill oil is more difficult than other omega-3 supplements and therefore, we the consumer have to pay those extra costs. If you’re on a budget, krill oil might not be the best option for you.

Cod Liver Oil Pros

  • Contains good doses of EPA and DHA
  • 48 times more potent than fish or cod liver oil
  • More sustainable, better for the environment
  • Lower risk of heavy metals and pollutants
  • No fishy aftertaste
  • Smaller capsules

Cod Liver Oil Cons

  • Expensive


Best Cod Liver Oil

Cod Liver Oil Capsules - Premium Certified Pure and Fresh - Triple Strength - Heart Healthy - 120 Softgels - Natural Supplement - 240mg of Omega 3 Fatty Acids - No Fishy Taste!

Athelas Neutraceuticals

Natural Cod Liver Oil

Best Fish Oil

Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength, Burpless, Non-GMO, NSF-Certified, 180 Counts

Dr. Tobias

Omega-3 Fish Oil

Best Krill Oil

MegaRed Advanced 4in1 500mg, 80 softgels - Concentrated Omega-3 Fish & Krill Oil Supplement

MegaRed

Omega-3 Fish & Krill Oil

  • 500mg of special combination of high concentration Fish Oil and high absorption Krill Oil
  • 2X more Omega-3s than standard fish oil alone
  • 1 softgel daily supports 4 benefits - heart, joints, brain and eyes

Conclusion

Overall, if you’re looking for the highest quality omega-3 supplement, then a top krill oil supplement would be the number one choice.

But if you’re on a budget, cod liver oil may be the wise choice.

However, if you’re new to omega-3 supplements and want a reasonably priced supplement that will suit the entire family, fish oil could be the choice for you.

Yet, in terms of which supplement is better for your health, as all offer significant amounts of DHA and EPA, they equally offer the same health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids.

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