Omega-3 supplementation has gained most of its attention secondary to its affect on the cardiovascular system. Research supports the use of these n-3 fatty acids for people with cardiovascular issues secondary to their ability to stimulate blood circulation and reduce clot and scar formation. Most notably there is strong evidence that Omega-3 helps to reduce blood triglyceride levels and reduces the risk of a heart attack. People with other circulatory issues including high blood pressure and varicose veins can also benefit from supplementation.
But what does this have to do with arthritis?
Of all the supplements that have been evaluated by research, Omega-3 (specifically fish oil) demonstrate the greatest effectiveness in reducing symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids work to help minimize the effect of Omega-6 fatty acids in the body. The Omega-6 fatty acids are considered 'proinflammatory' compounds. These compounds not only have an effect on the cardiovascular system but the immune system as well. As rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and support the immune system.
It is important to note that most benefits associated with taking Omega-3 supplements are not realized until after a minimum of 12 weeks of taking 3g (3000 mg) of fish oil (DHA/EPA). Supplementing with Omega-3/fish oil can also be enhanced by increasing the consumption of Omega-3 rich foods such as salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, flaxseed oil, and tofu is also suggested. In addition, because Omega-3 works to offset the inflammatory effects of Omega-6 compounds, reducing the intake of these Omega-6 'proinflammatory' fatty acids can also help reduce inflammation. Four major food oils including palm, soybean, rapeseed, and sunflower all contain high levels of Omega-6 and should be used sparingly.
Based on the research, Omega-3 supplementation not only demonstrates cardiovascular benefits but additional benefits in reducing inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.