Fish oil & Omega-3

Fish Oil & Omega-3

Consuming omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, may help reduce symptoms in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. While there are plenty of foods that contain omega-3s, such as fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts, it can be hard to eat enough of them to meet your daily needs. For that reason, many people choose to take an omega-3 supplement, typically in the form of fish oil.

If you decide you would like to try a fish oil supplement, always consult with your doctor before you add the supplement. Consider subscribing to, or working with a registered dietitian nutritionist, to determine which brands are safe and actually contain the listed ingredients. Fish oil can interact with certain medications such as blood thinners or anti-hypertensives. In addition some fish oil supplements have been found to contain unhealthy levels of PCBs, which are dangerous toxins and know carcinogens. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding discuss with your physician a safe does and brand. Typically the amount during pregnancy is around 750mg/day of EPA and DHA.

Fish Oil and RA

Among different dietary interventions used to treat RA, fish oil supplementation shows the strongest improvement of RA symptoms. In several studies, patients with RA received fish oil supplementation in combination with conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) treatments. Fish oil supplements that supplied at least 2.6 grams per day of EPA plus DHA, combined with standard drug treatments, resulted in additional symptom improvement above and beyond drug treatment after about 12 weeks. Patients reported fewer tender joints and less morning stiffness after adding fish oil supplements. They also showed lower markers of inflammation in their blood.

Keep in mind that the overall quality of your diet can affect how well the fish oil supplements work. A diet low in omega-6 fatty acids can help maximize the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Refer to the article on omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for more information. Including olive oil in your diet may provide additional benefits when taking fish oil supplements.

How Much Do I Need?

With so many fish oil supplements on the market, it can be difficult to determine which brands are safe and what dose you need. There is no officially recommended amount of fish oil supplementation for patients with RA. Most fish oil supplements provide a 3:2 or 2:1 ration of EPA to DHA respectively. Individuals should speak to their physician prior to beginning supplementation.

  • For RA most experts recommend a daily dose of 3,ooo mg.
  • For patients with coronary heart disease the recommendation is about 1,000mg per day.
  • For patients with high triglycerides the recommendation is about 1200 to 4000 mg. (7).

Fish oil is available in both capsule and liquid form. If you choose to use a liquid fish oil, read the label to carefully determine the amount to take. For example, if 1 teaspoon (5ml) is labeled as 1,600 mg, you’ll need to take about 9.5 ml to get 3 grams. Be careful not to take more than prescribed by your physician. If you would like to cut back on the number of pills you need to take, look for brands that contain high amounts of EPA and DHA in each pill.

Are There Side Effects?

Side effects of fish oil supplementation are generally mild, such as fishy-tasting burps and in some cases mild diarrhea. If you are experiencing these side effects, try taking smaller doses throughout the day, and be sure to consume the pill with food to increase absorption.

Written by: Jonathan Simmons | Last reviewed: September 2013.
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