Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis can be treated with this well known supplement
The role of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of heart disease is already well established. But did you know it is helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis? Research shows that the knowledge in regards to the benefits from essential fatty acids is growing.
Over the years, seafood, fish oil and krill oil have become a staple in my family’s home. When my stepfather had bypass surgery over a decade ago I suggested he go on fish oil as part of his cardiac regimen. His lab work never fails to amaze his Internist and his Cardiologist was pleased when they did a cardiac cath last year and found his vessels all remain clear. I have given fish oil to my son when he was a teenager and it helped to clear his skin and stabilize his adolescent moods. It might have helped with his ADHD as well. In addition it is possible that it has been helping me with my ever changing hormonal state as well. What a gift it is.
Research documented in the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine indicates that there is a wealth of research that shows that omega-3 is beneficial for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.
A 2012 study concluded that omega-3s found in seafood and fish oil are helpful in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The participants in the study reported less morning stiffness, less joint swelling and less need for NSAIDS.
Studies out of the University of Maryland Medical Center suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may increase levels of calcium in the body and increase bone density.
Also there was evidence that people who are deficient in EPA and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) are more likely to suffer bone loss than those with normal levels of these fatty acids. This was discovered during a study of women aged 65 and older who were taking EPA and GLA supplements over a period of three years. They showed significantly less bone loss and an increase in bone density than women who took a placebo.
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids come primarily from Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Fish are always good dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Cold water fish such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and tuna are loaded with (EPA) and (DHA).
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least 2 times per week for healthy adults with no history of heart disease.
Both EPA and DHA can be taken in the form of fish oil capsules. These oils should be kept refrigerated if at all possible to prevent them from spoiling. Don’t take a chance in buying them from any company that is not well known and reputable. Well established companies will screen the products for heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium.
Oral supplements vary in the amounts and ratios of acids. One of the more common ratios of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil capsules is 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA.
Adults should not take more than 3 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules except under the supervision of a health care provider. This is due to an increased risk of bleeding.
- The American Heart Association suggests that adults with known heart disease take 1 gram daily of EPA and DHA daily.
- For adults with elevated cholesterol levels,the AHA recommends 2 - 4 grams a day.
- For adults with high blood pressure 3 - 4 grams per day should show improvement.
Side effects are usually minor and pertain to the GI tract. There could be diarrhea, indigestion and “fishy” burps.
Take home message
There are some concerns that Omega-3 supplements may increase bleeding time. Individuals who take Aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix or other blood thinners should discuss taking omega-3 supplements with their health care provider first.
If you are diabetic and take medications such as Metformin, Glucotrol, Diabeta or Insulin you may need an adjustment in your medications as Omega-3 supplements may increase your fasting blood sugars.
Riediger ND, Othman RA, Suh M, Moghadasian MH. A systemic review of the roles of n-3 fatty acids in health and disease. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Apr;109(4):668-79. Review.
Krauss RM, Eckel RH, Howard B, et al. AHA Scientific Statement: AHA Dietary guidelines Revision 2000: A statement for healthcare professionals from the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2000;102(18):2284-2299.
Kremer JM. N-3 fatty acid supplements in rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;(suppl 1):349S-351S.