Can This One Supplement Ease the Pain of Osteoarthritis?

Fish Oil Capsules

Photo credit: bigstock

Millions of Americans suffer from some type of arthritis, and the pain it brings, due to the breakdown of cartilage that cushions our bones. Think of cartilage as a pillow, cushioning the space where your bones meet. When cartilage breaks down, the bones grind against one another, causing pain. There is currently no cure, and doctors only treat the symptoms by giving you anti-inflammatories and pain medication. Used for long periods of time, pain killers become addictive and can damage the stomach.

The good news here is that several researchers from Australia and Tasmania have done studies which show that small doses of a natural supplement can help ease the symptoms and pain of arthritis.

What magic supplement is this? Fish oil.

Researcher’s state that their studies show that the omega-3’s found in fish oil not only prevents the disease but that it can actually stop the progression of arthritis. Studies being done currently in the US show that the compounds in omega-3, called resolvins and protectins, can reduce inflammation to such a low level that it stops doing damage to the tissues in the body. Several notable studies all show remarkable evidence that these fatty acids are great at easing the pain of arthritis. Although there have been multiple studies done, the three well documented examples are as follows:

  • In 2005 the American Journal of Gastroenterology printed a study that showed that omega-3 fatty acids reduced symptoms in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferers.
  • Advances in Therapy published a study that subjects with moderate to severe symptoms of arthritis in the knees or hips were given 200mg of omega-3 and 1500mg of glucosamine sulfate. This combination gave all subjects tremendous improvements in both mobility as well as the reduction of pain compared to those who received only glucosamine.
  • The American College of Nutrition published a study in 2007 that showed that taking 300gm of krill oil daily significantly reduced inflammation, stiffness, and pain after only 7 days.

In a perfect world, everyone should be able to get plenty of omega-3 from their diet to protect them from heart disease as well as arthritis. However, the typical American diet is far from perfect. You can eat cold water oil fish, such as sardines, but eating enough of these types of fish can prove to be a hazard in itself due to pollution and contamination concerns (read more about 10 contaminated fish you shouldn’t be eating).  Taking fish oil supplements are therefore the most logical way to get your daily requirements met safely.

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Photo credit: bigstock

Photo credit: bigstock

There are plant based sources of omega-3 such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds but your body has a more difficult time absorbing these than it does from animal based sources.

When it comes to choosing your omega-3 options you have 3 choices: fish, fish oil, or krill oil.

Although fish oil is the norm it is low in antioxidants. Fish oil becomes rancid quickly so it becomes oxidized easily. Oxidation in the body leads to free radicals, which lead to premature aging, chronic diseases, even cancer. In order to fight free radicals, your body needs antioxidants. So, to be sure that fish oil does not become rancid inside your body and create free radicals, you need to consume antioxidants to counteract the fish oil, in addition to the ones you need for a healthy body.

This is why krill oil is the preferred means of getting omega-3. Krill oil has phospholipids that improve DHA and EPA absorption. It also contains a powerful antioxidant (astaxanthin). It is bound to the omega-3 and therefore keeps oxidation from every happening. Unfortunately, many of the bottles of fish oil you buy have already oxidized, before you ever consume them .Krill oil is almost 48 times more powerful than fish oil, and contains vitamin A, E, and D, something regular fish oil does not.  Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to the loss of cartilage in the knees and this is one of the markers of osteoarthritis. The absorption rate for krill oil is much better than fish oil, also. Research shows as much as 25 to 50 percent better absorption rates when compared to fish oil.

Krill is also more environmentally friendly and is completely sustainable. Krill is the largest biomass on the planet and krill harvesting is strictly regulated.

Avoid those dangerous non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).  These types of drugs kill more than 30,000 people every year due to their side effects, such as bleeding ulcers. Try taking fish oil or krill oil, combined with a glucosamine chondroitin supplement. It’s completely natural and numerous studies show that these supplements can relieve the pain, and perhaps prevent arthritis.

Note: If you have a bleeding disorder or bruise easily, or if you are on blood thinners, you should talk to your doctor first before you start taking fish oil supplements.