If you read our article on the omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA), you would have learned about the benefits of fish oil on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. There have not been very many studies into the necessary amount of fish oil to consume in order to receive the anti-inflammatory benefits, but there have been some that do provide some insight.
The first question is does the body utilize fish oil from dietary supplements as efficiently as from eating fish?
One small study involving 23 women measured the absorption of the 2 key components of omega-3 EFAs: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In this study, 11 women ate 2 servings of tuna or salmon per week. The other 12 took omega-3 supplement capsules containing the same amount of ’s, estimated to be 485 milligrams a day.
After 16 weeks, the EFA level in the red blood cells of both groups has risen by 40 to 50 percent. In addition, the omega-3 level in the plasma of both groups had risen by 60 to 80 percent.
Based on this study it would appear that getting your omega-3 from a dietary supplement is as beneficial as from eating fish.
The next question is how much omega-3 is needed to receive relief from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms?
There have been some studies that have suggested that a minimum of 2 grams a day to achieve some benefit. One 3-year open study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology, involving 73 patients with early RA included omega-3 supplementation of 4 to 4.5 grams a day. The participants were checked at 3 and 6 weeks, then every 3 months for the 3 year period of the study. The final results showed that patients who consumed high doses of fish oil were able to lower or discontinue their use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and the proportion of patients in remission after 3 years was greater in the fish oil group (72%) than the non- group (31%).
There have also been studies that suggest that taking low-dose aspirin, such as taken by those to reduce risk of a heart attack, magnifies the anti-inflammatory effect of taking fish oil.
On top of this, the concern about the potential for high levels of mercury in fish may be reason enough to get the benefits of through a supplement.
Which supplement is the best? ConsumerLab.com did an analysis of omega-3 supplements and found that none had unsafe contaminants.
Eskimos consume large amounts of oily fish and have a low prevalence of RA. You don’t have to have the of an Eskimo. Omega-3 supplements are readily available.