Omega-3s and their nutritional benefits have been known for years, with people consuming them for ages. However, new research published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage indicates 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.”