Two new studies reveal evidence omega-3 fatty acids can help in the battle against osteoarthritis, a chronic, prevalent, and debilitating disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It affects millions of people around the world. The disease most commonly appears in the hands, neck, lower back, knees, and hips. It causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints as the rubbery cartilage wears away and bones rub together. There is no known cure for the disease and typically patients are treated with pain management medications. This new research indicates omega-3s could be the first therapy to play a major role in delaying or even preventing the onset of osteoarthritis.
The first study, done at the University of Bristol, was conducted on guinea pigs. Guinea pigs naturally and spontaneously develop osteoarthritis as they age. The researchers found a diet rich in omega-3s reduced occurrence of osteoarthritis by fifty percent compared to a regular diet. Specifically, scientists noted early indicators of osteoarthritis, like the breakdown of collagen in cartilage and the loss of shock-absorbing qualities of cartilage, were reduced with the administration of omega-3s.
The second study, published in Nutrition & Metabolism, was conducted on 79 healthy, sedentary woman aged 58-78. Four different groups were observed: one was prescribed dietary fats, one was on an aerobic exercise regimen, one partook in both, and the final group served as a control. Subjects prescribed the dietary fats were administered 1000 mg of omega-3 supplementation each day, containing both EPA and DHA.
It is believed omega-3 supplementation benefits post-menopausal women for two reasons – its effects on inflammation and bone density. This study showed that supplementation helped reduce inflammation in the body and it also increased bone mass density. Exercise is commonly prescribed for these same two reasons. It follows that in this same study researchers determined the combination of both exercise and supplementation led to the most benefit in terms of increase of bone density. Exercise or supplementation alone caused a smaller degree of benefit. Similarly, decrease in inflammation was noted at the greatest level in the exercise and supplementation group and to the second greatest degree in the supplementation only group.
In conclusion, as shown in these studies, rather than face an inevitable regimen of pain medication and potential joint replacement, women can take preventative measures to insure the health of their bones by supplementing daily with omega-3 fatty acids.