Fish Oil for Joints
Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.
Joint disorders are a leading cause of disability. Due to limited efficacy and unpleasant side effects of conventional drugs, many people turn to dietary supplements as a safer alternative. Though the use of fish oil for bone health is not new in traditional and folk medicine, recent research has revealed a range of benefits of fish oil for joints, ranging from preventing inflammation to managing pain and swelling.
In this article, we’ll be exploring some benefits of fish oil for joints according to scientific studies. But before we get into how fish oil benefits joint health, it’s important to learn the basics of fish oil and joint diseases a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is fish oil?
- Understanding joint diseases
- What does fish oil do in the body?
- Benefits of taking fish oil for joints
- How to use fish oil supplements
- Precautions and side effects
- Final words
What is fish oil?
Fish oil is the fatty oil that is extracted from tissues of fatty and oily fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, and tuna, or otherwise from the liver of some fishes like cod. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It also contains small amounts of vitamins A and D as well.
Omega 3 fatty acids have an important role in protecting cell membranes and supporting the functionality of tissues, particularly in the heart and brain. They have been linked to a wide range of health benefits as well as preventing diseases. But the human body cannot make enough of them and people should get them through diets or supplements.
Understanding joint diseases
The most prevalent joint condition is arthritis, which is one of the most common causes of disability, especially in older people. Inflammation and vascular pathology are considered to be responsible for the development and progression of most joint diseases. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, as well as other symptoms that restrict mobility.
There are two major types of arthritis, such as:
- Osteoarthritis - it’s a degenerative joint disorder in which the joint cartilages get eroded, leading to the friction of bones and bone damage in the affected joints.
- Rheumatoid arthritis - It’s an autoimmune disease. The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints and causes this inflammatory joint disease.
What does fish oil do in the body?
Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, it contains small amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D.
Vitamin A acts as a powerful antioxidant that can protect cells and tissues from free radical damage. Vitamin D plays an important role in building and maintaining healthy joints by supporting the production of proteoglycans, a group of proteins that are vital for cartilage as well as the entire joint and musculoskeletal health.
Fish oil can reduce the production of several elements that contribute to developing inflammation in the body. Besides, it plays an essential role in forming building blocks of prostaglandins, a class of active lipid compounds that regulate pathogenic mechanisms such as inflammatory response in almost every tissue, making it hugely helpful in balancing immune response and controlling joint inflammation.
Fish oil also plays an important role in lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels, which potentially reduces the risk of serious cardiovascular diseases including heart attack and stroke, particularly in people who have inflammatory joint disease.
Benefits of taking fish oil for joints
Fish oil and the omega-3 fatty acid content it contains can help joints and their associated disorders in several ways. Fish oil has been found to be noticeably effective in reducing the development and progression of arthritis. No matter whether it is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, fish oil can benefit both.
Here are some common benefits of taking fish oil for joints:
- Reduces joint inflammation by restricting the production of certain negative substances that induce an inflammatory response
- Reduces swelling, stiffness, tenderness, and pain in joints affected by arthritis
- Improves joint mobility and range of motion (ROM)
- Decreases the use of medications such as painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
A recent 2020 study in Rheumatology Advances in Practice published by the British Society for Rheumatology revealed that fish oil supplement has the potential to reduce osteoarthritis (OA) pain and burden in older adults who are diagnosed as overweight or obese.
Another 2020 study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Rheumatology concluded that omega-3 fatty acids can modulate and attenuate the autoimmune inflammatory response and reduce disease activity in RA or rheumatoid arthritis.
How to use fish oil supplements
The exact dosage of fish oil for joints and related conditions varies depending on specific health conditions. However, most clinicians recommend 1000 mg to 3000 mg of standardized fish oil extract supplements per day. Consider consulting with a qualified natural health professional to determine what dose would be the best for you.
Precautions and side effects
Fish oil is generally considered safe for most people when taken as prescribed. At recommended doses, only a few people may experience some side effects. But these are uncommon and mild. The most common side effect of fish oil is stomach upset. But some people may also experience diarrhea or flatulence.
Besides, fish oil may affect how certain medications work in the body and interfere with their efficacies. For instance, fish oil has a significant impact on blood clotting and hence, people who are on anticoagulants should avoid fish oil supplements.
It’s always recommended to consult with a licensed natural healthcare professional or nutritionist prior to starting fish oil supplements, especially if you’re breastfeeding, pregnant, or on medications for any underlying health condition.
Fish oil can help to promote joint health as well as treat and prevent joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It can hugely help with reducing inflammation, pain, swelling, stiffness, tenderness, and other symptoms associated with joint conditions.
As a potent anti-inflammatory agent, fish oil may interact with other anti-inflammatory drugs. Therefore, consider consulting with a licensed nutritionist or natural healthcare provider prior to starting fish oil for joints.
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