Omega-3s and their nutritional benefits have been known for years, with people consuming them for ages. However, new research published in the journalOsteoarthritis and Cartilageindicates for the first time that omega-3 fats supplied by fish oil may “substantially and significantly” reduce the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis as humans age.   

University of Bristol (England) researchers evaluated the effect of omega-3 fats on a breed of guinea pigs genetically predisposed to develop osteoarthritis in a similar manner to humans. One group of guinea pigs enjoyed a diet including a full spectrum of omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA); this group’s results were tested against a second group of non-supplemented animals.

Researchers found the typical degradation of cartilage and the loss of molecules that give it shock-absorbing properties were both reduced in the omega-3 supplemented group, noting the fats reduced the disease risk by 50% compared with the control group.

Dr. John Tarlton, from the Matrix Biology Research Group, explained, “There was strong evidence that omega-3 influences the biochemistry of the disease and, therefore, not only helps prevent disease, but also slows its progression, potentially controlling established osteoarthritis.”