There are several factors that contribute to healthy joints. Omega-3s enhance joint mobility through a few different mechanisms.
- EPA and DHA may decrease inflammation. Studies show that EPA and DHA are more effective than ALA for decreasing several inflammatory markers. EPA and DHA also increase some anti-inflammatory markers such as IL-10, TGF beta.
- Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the progression of osteoarthritis. EPA and DHA inhibit the expression of various proteins that contribute to osteoarthritis. In addition, petri dish studies indicate that ALA and EPA decrease both the destruction and inflammatory aspects of cartilage cell metabolism.
Omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into cartilage cell (chondrocyte) membranes. In a dose-dependent manner, they decrease enzymes that degrade cartilage and inflammatory cytokines (IL-1alpha, TNF alpha, COX-2,) thereby affecting cartilage cell gene transcription.
- Omega-3s may decrease risk of bone marrow lesions. A study in 293 adults without osteoarthritis, some with and some without knee pain, found that higher intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids or omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids were associated with an increased risk of bone marrow lesions.
This study lends further support to the recommendation to balance fat intake and shift toward foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids while decreasing intake of omega-6 fatty acids.
- Omega-3s help other aspects of joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease symptoms of morning stiffness, tender or swollen joints, and joint pain. They can also help increase blood flow during exercise.
Joint pain can limit your activity and cause distress. Luckily, how you train and eat can help. In addition to stretching and strengthening the surrounding muscles (while not overloading them too soon), you can also take omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids can potentially enhance joint mobility through several biochemical processes such as altering eicosanoid biosynthesis, signal transduction, and influencing gene expression. In addition, fish oil in particular can decrease some cardiovascular disease risk factors at the same time.