krill oil vs fish oil
Fish Oil vs Krill Oil

Krill Oil Value: A Cost Comparison

written by Vin Kutty

comments 15 comments

Is krill oil a good value?

Short answer: absolutely not.

See why below.

Cost of 1000 mg Omega-3 for krill oil vs pharmaceutical grade fish oil

[Pricing data accessed: September 25th, 2011. Krill oil used for comparison at Walmart and Walgreens was MegaRed brand krill oil, the #1 selling krill oil in the US.]

Omega-3 from Krill is Better Absorbed

In the last blog, we looked at krill oil absorption.

Yes, it is better than fish oil. About 1.6X better. Not the outrageous ’48X better’ that some products and marketers claim.

What’s an acceptable premium for 1.6X better absorption?

For a product that is 1.6 times better, what is a fair premium? In other words, how much more money will you part with for krill oil being 1.6X better than fish oil?

  1. Will you pay just 1.6X more?
  2. Are you willing to pay twice as much for krill oil?
  3. Or will you pay ten times as much?

Before you decide, let’s be clear on one fact: you’re taking fish oil and krill oil for its Omega-3.

Sure, krill oil has Omega-3 plus some astaxanthin and phospholipids. If krill oil had no Omega-3, you would not buy it. (You’d buy an inexpensive Astaxanthin supplement instead. Pick up a bottle of 60 for $9 here.)

So it’s all about the health benefits of Omega-3.

How to Measure Omega-3 Value? Cost of 1,000 mg Omega-3.

There is a value-calculator when comparing Omega-3 products. It calculates a metric, a number that can be used to measure value.

It’s ‘Cost of 1000 mg Omega-3.’

This measurement strips away all the tricks and pricing gimmicks. It tells you what it costs to take 1000 mg of Omega-3. It lays bare the true cost of getting an effective dosage of Omega-3 into your body.

Lower doses are ineffective.

But 1000 mg is where you begin to see benefits, so it’s convenient and that’s what we’ll compare.

For this exercise, I looked at prices for the popular online krill oil supplement from mercola.com and the top-selling krill oil supplement from MegaRed at both Walmart and Walgreens. There are other places that sell krill, but these prices cover the range. Prices were checked online and at physical stores during September 2011.

Krill Oil Cost Comparison

Mercola

Walmart – MegaRed

Walgreens – MegaRed

Retail Price$35.53$22.46$27.99
Pills/Bottle606060
Amount EPA/DHA Omega-3140 mg72 mg72 mg
Cost of 1,000 mg Omega-3 (effective dose)$4.23$5.19$6.48
# pills to get 1,000 mg EPA+DHA Omega-3about 7about 14about 14

Disclaimer: Delivery cost and/or tax not included. Cost may vary after publication due to promotions or market forces.

At first glance, the krill oil prices ranged from $22 to $35.

This is roughly what most high quality fish oil sell for. So are you getting about the same amount of Omega-3 with krill oil pills?

Not even close!

You have to pay between 7 and 11 times more for the same amount of Omega-3 from krill oil.

If krill oil is only 1.6X better than fish oil, it seems odd that you should pay about 10X more for that benefit.

But it has Astaxanthin, you say. Fine, then get a bottle of Astaxanthin pills for $9 and with the money saved, buy a really high potency fish oil instead!

And it has phospholipids, you say. So does an egg.

Ultra-concentrated fish oils are expensive compared to regular fish oil. No doubt. Sometimes 10-times more expensive when you compare cost of 1000 mg Omega-3. It takes a lot of molecular distillation to concentrate the Omega-3.

Watch out for fake krill oils!

To be fair, MegaRed is made with Aker krill oil. Aker and NKO are trusted, reliable makers of bulk krill oil, from whom many manufacturers buy their oil. There is a price tag attached to quality. (Not sure where Mercola gets their oil – their website does not say.)
But be warned: there are krill oil knock-offs out there (usually from China) that contain no krill oil whatsoever. These fake krill oils are mostly low-potency fish oil with a little astaxanthin and soy phospholipid mixed in. It’s virtually worthless and can be purchased at a discount to real krill oil. You thought you got a great deal – you may have just been taken.

If your krill oil price seems too good to be true, it’s probably fish oil with some astaxanthin added for red color.

This is what happens when people pay 10-times more for similar products. It’s irrational. This is a market imbalance caused by marketing hype. Whenever you see product adulteration, like fake krill oil from China, you should know that something is off-kilter.

As long as people keep buying krill oil at these prices, threat of adulteration will remain. For what it’s worth, no one’s heard of adulterated fish oil.

Are krill oil marketers ripping you off?

Absolutely not! Krill are found near the south pole, in the Antarctic. It is extremely expensive for ships to go there and harvest krill. And krill oil being very heat-sensitive, requires a different form of purification than fish oil. This adds more cost.

Yes, there is plenty of profit to be had in selling krill oil, but it is also a very expensive raw material for manufacturers to buy.

It’s just expensive stuff, any way you slice it.

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

  1. Hi Vin,

    Old blog post, I know, but I have a quick question. Would there be a benefit in taking 2-4 Krill oil capsules a day along with an Omegavia dose to get the phospholipids from the Krill and help with the absorption of the entire amount of Omega 3 that is being ingested?

    I realize egg has phospholipids too, but I don’t think I want to have to eat an egg every time I take OmegaVia. What do you think about this method? And how much Krill, to get the phospholipids, would you suggest per tablet of Omegavia?

    I would be buying the Nutrigold brand of Krill tablets to go with my Omegavia dose.

    Thanks!

    • Hi John – taking phospholipids from krill oil or eggs or as phospholipid supplements with fish oil is not going to help improve the absorption of the fish oil Omega-3. This is because each Omega-3 molecule in krill oil is physically bound to phospholipids. This is what makes krill oil slightly better absorbed. Since the phospholipids in krill or eggs are not bonded to the Omega-3 in fish oil, it is not going to help in the absorption.

      So, is taking a couple of krill oil pills along with your OmegaVia good for you? Sure, a little more Omega-3 and phospholipids doesn’t hurt. Your body needs a little phospholipids anyway. I prefer to get mine from eggs or other foods. You could even take phosphatidylserine or phosphatidylcholine supplements, but those are from soy. Buying krill oil for the phospholipids or astaxanthin is like buying a brand new Cadillac so you can take off its new tires and put it on your beat up old Chevy because the Chevy needed new tires.

  2. Hi Vin,

    Great post. I am late here I know, but isnt the point of taking krill, because the astaxanthin is IN the oil, and helps prevent spoilage and rancidity? My understanding is taking a regular fish oil supplement, then adding in an astaxanthing supplement would defeat the purpose, as having it IN the oil in the first place is where the benefit comes to the oil itself? Any thoughts there?

    • Hi Neil – there is hardly any astaxanthin in krill oil supplements. Astaxanthin is a notoriously delicate molecule and gets destroyed very easily. So after a couple of months, the smidgen of astaxanthin that was there degrades and vanishes. If you want astaxanthin, take a supplement that contains only astaxanthin – the same problem occurs there too, but they add ‘excess overage’ to compensate for the decreasing levels.

      The original krill oil spin was that astaxanthin helps prevent spoilage and rancidity. They’re not saying that anymore.

      I occasionally take astaxanthin supplements before I’m going to be exposed to a lot of sun, say a week or two before a vacation in Hawaii. It is a great natural sunscreen. It is a good antioxidant in its own right. People use it as a standalone supplement. You could take it with fish oil, but it may not do much to protect the fish oil.

  3. Hi Vin, I love your passion. I’ve been low carb, no sugar, low fruit eater for years. I’ve been taking Mercola’s Krill Oil (3 capsules a day) and Astaxanthin for about a year.
    Definitely disappointed and shocked to get these numbers back:
    Glucose 158
    Triglycerides 388!
    HDL 52
    LDL 238 !!!!!!!
    Dr. prescribed Atorvastatin 10 mg Lisinopril 10 mg Metformin HCL 500mg
    I just ordered omega via but don’t know if I should take these prescriptions.
    Thoughts? Very scary and disappointing for someone trying to live the right way.

    • Hi David – yeah, your Triglycerides are high. I also like to keep my TG/HDL ratio under 3. I can only get there with strict carb and sugar restriction and exercise. You also may want to talk to a lipidologist – worth talking to a specialist about this. There could be things you are doing wrong with your diet that a low-carb or paleo dietitican can help you tweak. Numbers like this usually means there is some insulin resistance, which is often a result of genetics + sugar/carb indulgence in your younger years. Again, what works for insulin resistance is what works for triglycerides.

      As far as krill oil, it will work as well as fish oil for reducing triglycerides as long as you are taking the right amount of Omega-3. Three krill oil pills a day is nowhere near enough for krill. Aim for 3000 mg of Omega-3 taken with meals.

      One more thing – low-carbers often end up hurting their probiotic microbiomes in their guts – this is very important – because fats and proteins cannot be utilized by the good bacteria in your gut. So take some prebiotic fibers – unmodified potato starch will do, but start very small. Don’t worry about the starch in the potato starch – you wont need that much and most of it is undigested.

    • Hi David – wow! That’s quite a drop. I assume this is with combining sugar and refined starch elimination and Omega-3? How much Omega-3 were you taking per day? Exercise?

  4. Amazing and so looking forward to getting in the Omega
    3 program! Everything that you mentioned here I just
    Happened to have, where have you fine folks @ Omega 3
    been all my life? It’s gotten kinda hard not too give up on life you have reminded me of how I feels like .Am not able too work am 100% percent disabled I live off my pension from the United States Of American our Government,truly believe in you and what you’s stands for just keep the faith and the Rest is history just don’t lose our faith,In The Name Of Jesus,Amen! I take one Capsule 1000 mg 3 times a day with food 3 meals 3 capsules I’ll have to finish my order of the Omega 3 in the morning keep me posted !

  5. What would be the best astaxanthin to take that would be well absorbed with your fish oil products? I know you mentioned supplements but will they really work well without being in krill oil? A lot of what I’ve read says it is best in Krill but after reading posts on this site, it sounds like a lot of it “disappears” degrades after time and like you said, there is not much DHA and EPA. Please advise. Thank you! =)

    • Hi Rebecca – of course, astaxanthin will work perfectly fine without being in krill oil. Astaxanthin in krill oil is notoriously sensitive and by the time you take it, there is very little left. There are many algae-derived astaxanthin products on the market. I don’t have a particular brand that I prefer, but most are fine.

  6. I am a diabetic and currently taking 1.8 victoza, 20 units levemir, 2.5 resouvastatin and 2.5 enalapril. By the way, my A1C was 6.3 last month and lipids are all in order.
    I take the following supplements..
    whole body reasearch’s krill oil
    81mg aspirin
    zinc
    turmeric
    and synthroid,
    and I am still feeling tired (possible CFS)
    Question: how much krill should I be taking and do you recommend any brand over the others?

    • Hi Mark – I don’t recommend krill oil – usually because it is very low in Omeag-3. But it has a good amount of phospholipids, which are good for you. I suggest you take a high Omega-3 supplement along with it. Aim for 2000-3000 mg Omega-3 per day. Zinc is fine, but you’d be better off with a Magnesium supplement. I suggest you talk to an Integrative Medicine MD – there could be dozens of reasons why you’re tired. An Integrative Medicine MD can help you find the root cause and treat it.

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