Arthritis is a condition that occurs when the cartilage that normally protects the joints becomes damaged. This can lead to pain and swelling in the joints, which can make everyday activities difficult.
While there is no cure for arthritis, treatments may help relieve symptoms. One standard treatment is fish oil supplements, which have been shown to improve joint health.
In this article, we'll explain how fish oil works and why it might be helpful for people with arthritis.
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. These acids are found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce inflammation, joint pain, and other conditions like arthritis. Fish oil also has anti-inflammatory properties on its own.
What are the benefits of fish oil for arthritis?
Fish oil is most known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Here are a few of the possible benefits of reducing inflammation in your body
- Fish oil may help improve joint function and reduce inflammation.
- Fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Fish oil may help your body reduce the risk of developing arthritis.
- Fish oil may also boost the immune system and fight off infection.
Fish oil studies
Studies show fish oil may reduce inflammation and morning stiffness associated with inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus, and may help manage symptoms of osteoarthritis.
One to three grams of fish oil daily may help decrease joint symptoms such as morning stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and discomfort.
Fish body and fish liver oils are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which may help keep your immune system healthy and combat inflammation in the joints. Some types of arthritis include inflammation of the body, which omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate.
Fish oil contains high omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Studies show that both EPA and DHA can play a role in reducing inflammation in joints. The primary fatty acids that aid in inflammation are EPA and DHA, which can be obtained from eating fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, and tuna.
EPA and DHA may help restrict the production of specific adverse proteins, which inhibit some types of arthritis. Research has shown that omega-3s may boost immune function, lower blood pressure, and improve symptoms of heart disease.
Other recent studies have detailed how a balance of omega-3s and omega-6s may aid in various types of pain. It was found that diets higher in omega-6s are risk factors for both inflammatory aches (from arthritis, for instance) and neuropathic pain (from conditions such as diabetes).
One study looked at over 3000 older American adults; it found that those with higher levels of omega-3s, known as EPA and DHA (found in fish), were about a third less likely to have diabetes in ten years compared with adults who had lower levels.
Researchers in Denmark turned their attention to women aged 15-49. They found that, throughout eight years, those who seldom or never ate fish had 90% more cardiovascular problems than those who had eaten fish with a higher omega-3 intake every week.
In one study, patients with gout who consumed omega-3s and adjusted their consumption of specific foods known to increase uric acid levels--high-fructose corn syrup, organ meats, alcohol, and seafood--had a lower risk of repeated bouts of gout.
An analysis of 18 RCTs published in influential journals between 2005 and 201218 RCTs published influential journals 2005 and 2012 found that only two out of 18 showed that fish oil supplements (compared with a placebo) offered benefits for individuals with a higher cardiovascular risk.
In a 2015 study published in the Global Journal of Health Sciences, researchers suggested that taking fish oil supplements with DMARD may reduce symptoms for newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients.
A 2015 study also indicated that including fish oil in rheumatoid arthritis may decrease the use of painkillers.
How do you take fish oil for arthritis?
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) recommends taking 1,000mg of EPA or DHA daily if you have RA. If you have osteoarthritis, ACR recommends 2,000mg of EPA or DHA daily.
For those with rheumatoid factor (RF), ACR recommends 3,000mg of EPA or DHA daily.
Many fish oils are available as supplements, so you must speak with your doctor or healthcare provider about the best option.
Side effects of fish oil for arthritis
The most common side effect of fish oil use is diarrhea. This is because fish oil contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can increase the amount of water in the gut. Fish oil also can cause constipation, as well as other gastrointestinal problems.
Because fish oil supplements can interact with other medications, you must consult your doctor before starting treatment.
Additionally, people with a history of heart disease or stroke should avoid taking fish oils because they may increase the risk of these conditions.
Fish oil supplements are often recommended for people with arthritis. While the research on fish oil and arthritis is still ongoing, the fatty acids in fish oils may benefit the joints.
Fish oils can help improve joint function by reducing inflammation and pain and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Fish oil supplements might be a good option if you are looking for supplemental omega-3 fatty acids to support your joints.
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