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

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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.

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

When to Choose Fish Oil

When to Choose Krill Oil


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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