Fish Oils for Joint Health and Inflammation

Chiropractic care consisting of treatment, advice and exercise is an excellent way of reducing or eliminating pain by restoring and maintaining joint, muscle and nerve function. In turn this reduces postural stress, improves the body’s ability to heal itself and promotes overall well-being.

Acupuncture is also an excellent way of reducing pain and discomfort from painful, inflamed and arthritic joints and muscles.

For degenerative and osteoarthritis physical therapy such as chiropractic can be helpful, but for inflammatory arthritis acupuncture is a better choice.

In part 1 we covered the two main arthritis types, degenerative and inflammatory, and the benefits of glucosamine sulphate. Here in part we will cover the benefits of good quality Fish Oils and the pitfalls to avoid.

The active constituents of fish oil are the Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. The human body converts these into prostaglandins, which help control inflammation in the body.

During their life fish accumulate the Omega 3 oils in their muscle tissue through eating algae. Therefore wild fish is thought to be better than farmed fish, which are fed.

Fish oil supplements are another way of getting your two-a-week but fish oils are very sensitive to oxidation and degradation and they need to be handled very carefully – right from the point of catching the fish. The supplement manufacturers often distribute the oil in capsules to protect the oil, but could there be another reason for this practise? A recent program on Danish TV (Kontant on DR) worryingly found that in nearly all of the 15 capsule supplements tested the fish oil was rancid. Unless you bite into the capsule and taste the fish oil itself you won’t know if this is the case. Sometimes the smell will be enough! Fresh oil will have little or no fish taste or smell. In the programme the taste and smell of fresh fish oil is likened to what you experience when inhaling sea air; something we are quite used to here in Worthing.

The degree of rancidity can be scientifically measured based on the presence of Peroxide and Anisidin producing a ‘Totox’ figure.  For human consumption The United Nations World Food Programme accepts a maximum Totox of 10 but the manufacturers’ own tolerance for freshness is set at 26. At levels well below this figure the overwhelming smell and taste will be that of rotten fish. Only 2 of the 15 tested products met the UN’s criteria and many were closer to 26 than to 10. You can find the table of the test results here.

Some of the oils were produced in Peru from fish declared unfit for human consumption and left in hot temperatures for days on end, meaning that the oil had gone off even before extraction and packing. To an extent the deterioration can be masked by chemical processing and additives. If you the also encapsulate the oil in a gelatin capsule, which is swallowed whole the consumer is none the wiser.

How much do you need?

Studies have shown that if those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis start taking 2 to 3 grams of good quality Omega 3 oils noticeable improvement will take 12 weeks. Further improvement is likely to take place over another 6 to 12 weeks after which maximum benefit is achieved. After this point you will need to keep taking the oils or eating the fish to maintain the improvement. Whereas it is not entirely clear from the studies one would assume that the improvement are mainly achievable in people who do not already get enough Omega 3 oils through their diet.

So, what can YOU do?

Eat fresh or tinned fish at least twice a week. Oily fish are best e.g. mackerel, anchovies, sardines and salmon.

If you decide to take supplements you must TASTE the product and READ the label. 1000 milligrams (1 gram) of product is unlikely to contain more than 700 milligrams of useful oils of which the EPA and DHA values should be around 360 milligrams and 240 milligrams respectively. Store your fish oil in the refrigerator.

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