Fish oil for arthritis: pros and cons, as well as recommendations


Several studies suggest that fish oil can be beneficial for people with arthritis. For example, in one study, fish oil reduced arthritis-associated pain. More research to investigate the effects of fish oil on arthritis is ongoing.

Fish oil is known to help your health in a number of ways, including supporting cardiovascular health, brain health, and eye health. This has been attributed to the omega-3 in fish oil, which can block some sources of inflammation. Studies have shown that fish oil reduces inflammation in the body, reduces morning stiffness, and helps people with psoriasis, lupus, and various types of arthritis.

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What is fish oil?

Fish oil is an oil that comes from fish tissue or fat. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and D also contain other vitamins and minerals in fish oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many types of fish, including tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, and salmon. It’s also found in flaxseed and in nutritional supplements.

Fatty acids that are rich in omega-3 are:

  • Eicosatetraenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

EPA and DHA are the two fatty acids that can be beneficial for people with arthritis. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from foods, soft gels, tablets, liquids, or capsules.

Krill oil versus fish oil

There are a few differences between krill and fish oil:

  • Krill oil has a reddish color due to the antioxidant astaxanthin
  • Fish oil is golden in color

Fish oil and arthritis

Some types of arthritis involve inflammation in the body, which the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can relieve. Studies have shown that the fatty acids in fish oil can partially inhibit a number of aspects of inflammation.

The body does not naturally produce omega-3 fatty acids, so this nutrient must be obtained from food and / or supplements. The main fatty acids known to help with inflammation are EPA and DHA, which can be obtained from eating oily fish like salmon, anchovies, and tuna.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects the joints in the wrists, knees, and hands and damages the synovial membrane. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the effects of the autoimmune inflammatory response in patients with RA, resulting in clinical improvements in the condition.

Clinical studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids play a beneficial role in RA. More research needs to be done to evaluate the long-term effects of omega-3s in people with RA.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common arthritis. Osteoarthritis is more common with age, when the tissues in the joints break down over time.

Studies suggest that EPA and DHA in fish oils reduce inflammation and increase joint lubrication. Further human studies and clinical trials need to be done to determine whether or not fish oil is beneficial for people with OA.

Studies have shown that fish oil can relieve pain in elderly OA patients who are overweight.


Gout is inflammatory arthritis that affects one or more joints. The most common symptoms in the big toe joint are pain, swelling, redness, and heat. The condition occurs due to excessive uric acid secretion in the joint.

In one study, patients with gout who consumed omega-3s and who consumed certain foods (high fructose corn syrup, organ meats, alcohol, seafood) that were known to increase uric acid levels had a lower risk of recurring gout attacks. When omega-3 was taken alone, there was no reduction. More research needs to be done to determine if fish oils specifically help people with gout.


You can get the benefits of fish oils through foods and supplements. The daily reference intake (RDI) of omega-3 fatty acids is 1,600 for men and 1,100 for women. The RDI for EPA and DHA is 200-500 mg...

What to look for in a fish oil supplement

It is recommended that you look for supplements that have a Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) seal of purity. It is important to discuss the options with your doctor.

Risks and Side Effects

Risks, side effects, and overdose symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • a headache
  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste
  • heartburn
  • Nosebleeds
  • insomnia
  • Vitamin A toxicity

Fish oils are also known to increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, people with diabetes should consult their doctor to discuss the right options.

It is known that fish oils may interact with some drugs. Contact your doctor to discuss the possible interaction of medications and fish oil supplements.

A word from Verywell

Fish oil can be a beneficial addition to your overall health. It is important to speak to your doctor before adding any supplements, vitamins, or minerals to your diet. They can give you the right recommendations about the types of fish oil and doses that will support your health.


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