Can fish oils help my arthritis?
Health benefits of using Omega 3 fish oils include lowering your risk of heart disease, blood vessel disease, lowering triglycerides, and “thinning” the blood (reducing the risk of clots). It may improve brain development, concentration, learning ability and behavior in children as well as enhancing brain function in adults (60% of the brain is fat and half of that is DHA). I do find it helpful for my arthritic patients (see dose below). Along with recommending supplements for arthritis I use lasers directly over painful joints. These offer a deep heat sensation and helps relieve pain in arthritic joints.
Do tinned and smoked fish count?
Regarding eating fish, I would say that ALL fish is good for you. It is a very lean source of protein. It’s normally the way that fish is cooked that detracts from its goodness – think battered and fried (Not good). Oily fish such as fresh salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines contains the ‘healthy’, or polyunsaturated, fats that we are advised to eat more of. These types of fish are high in Omega 3 which is called an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid – it is ‘essential’ because our bodies cannot make it so we need to consume it through our diets.
If a product’s been tinned or smoked it will have fewer micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) than the fresh version, however it will still be a good source of protein, low in fat and contain a certain amount of vitamins and minerals. The fish to really avoid are the ones that have been battered, breaded or already have cheesy or creamy sauces on them. Also, fish to eat the least often are deep sea fish (especially large fish) such as shark, marlin, tuna and swordfish. These may contain particularly high levels of mercury. These fish should be avoided by pregnant women and children under 16 years old. Mercury is potentially harmful for children and it can harm fetuses.
How Much Fish Oil Do I Need?
It is recommended that adults and children over 12 years old eat 2 portions of oily fish per week – a portion is 140g cooked fish and it will contain approximately 450mg of Omega 3’s. I typically recommend that clients take supplements of 3 grams of Omega 3 fish oils each day (order at www.DrJeffreyTucker.meta-ehealth.com)(try EPA-DHA 720 or SPM Active). If a client has acute or chronic pain I may recommend even higher doses.
There are some vegetarian sources of omega-3’s like walnuts, flaxseed (linseed) oil, canola oil, soybean oil, etc., all of these are short chain polyunsaturated acids which must be converted by the body into longer chain PUFAs to be useful. Since fish oil already contains long chain PUFAs, it’s the best dietary source. For vegetarians I recommend Biotics Mixed EFA’s.
When taking fish oil supplements, it is generally a good idea to take vitamin E (3 mg for every 1 gram of fish oil) to protect against oxidation. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E counteracts free-radical formation from unsaturated oils.