What Is It About Fish Oil That Makes It Special?
Research suggests that fish oil can reduce inflammation and morning stiffness associated with inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus and help control symptoms of osteoarthritis. As well as this long-term use of fish oil has been shown to reduce the reliance on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in some cases of arthritis. Which is significant as this can help decrease the risk of any of the side effects from taking these medicines.
What Are Fish Oils And How Do They Work To Reduce Symptoms Of Arthritis?
Fish oils are simply oils found in the tissues of fish. These oils contain a specific type of fat called omega-3. Our bodies cannot produce omega-3 fats meaning we must obtain them from our diet. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and decoxahexaenoic acid (DHA), these fatty acids block inflammatory cytokines and prostaglandins; they are converted by the body into powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals called resolvins. This may help to relieve joint pain and stiffness in a similar way to NSAIDs.
- Studies show that EPA and DHA decrease several inflammatory markers
- EPA and DHA also increase some anti-inflammatory markers
- EPA and DHA inhibit the expression of various proteins that contribute to osteoarthritis
- Omega 3 fatty acids decrease symptoms of morning stiffness, tender or swollen joints and joint pain
- Omega 3 fatty acids can also help increase blood flood during exercise
Where Do You Find Omega-3 Fats?
Omega-3 fats are mostly found in oily fish and certain nut and seed oils.
- Cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, halibut and cod
- Flaxseed (linseed) and canola oil (research suggests however that these oils are not as active against inflammation as fish oils are)
- Margarines and eggs and such foods fortified with omega-3
- Fish oil supplements
How Much Fish Oil Should You Take For Arthritis
Studies suggest 2.7 grams of omega-3 daily is required to reduce inflammation. This is quite a significant amount and as a result it is unlikely you can obtain enough omega-3 fats from your diet to reduce inflammation without using fish oil supplements.
This is equivalent to taking daily:
- 9-14 standard 1000mg fish oil capsules or
- 5-7 capsules of a fish oil concentrate or
- 15mL of bottled fish oil or
- 5-7 mL of concentrated bottled fish oil
How Long Does It Take Before You Notice Results?
The above dose should be taken consistently for approximately 2-3 months and if there is no improvement despite this then it may be that fish oil supplements may not be effective in your specific condition or at this specific stage of your condition.
What Are The Risks Of taking High Doses Of Fish Oil
Worth noting is that fish oil is different to fish liver oil such as cod liver oils. Fish liver oils contain vitamin A and taken in large amounts vitamin A can be dangerous particularly during pregnancy. If looking to increase your omega-3 fats it is safer to do this by taking pure fish oil supplements rather than taking fish liver oils.
As with all supplements it is important to always tell and discuss with your doctor prior to starting taking any supplements or over the counter medicines. Taking high doses of fish oil is no exception especially if you are taking blood thinners or for females who are pregnant or hoping to conceive.
Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance on Fish Oil and Arthritis should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner or physiotherapist.