Fish oil supplements are made from the natural oils found in cold water fish, like salmon, cod, herring and tuna. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, and at low dosages, it can support cognitive function, cardiovascular health and vision. It’s also good for hair, skin and nails. At higher doses, fish oil can help decrease inflammation from arthritis and, doctors suspect, a number of other diseases in which inflammation plays a key role.
Inflammation and Your Body
Inflammation happens for a reason. Your body uses inflammation to protect itself from pathogens that might injury it and to stimulate the immune system to begin the healing process. Chronic inflammation, such as that found in diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, can be harmful, however, so your body does its best to regulate and control inflammation.
When chronic inflammation occurs, your body is simultaneously healing and destroying the tissue at the sight of the inflammation. That’s because your body is sending microphages, or white blood cells, to the sight of the inflammation to drive out any bacteria, viruses or other pathogenic invaders. When inflammation is chronic, white blood cells remain in the tissues at the site of the inflammation for so long that the waste chemicals they release begin to damage the very tissue they’re trying to save.
How Fish Oil Helps Decrease Inflammation
Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which, researchers have found, can decrease inflammation caused by arthritis and a number of other diseases in which inflammation plays a key role. Researchers have discovered that your body uses omega-3 fatty acids to create a chemical compound called resolvin D2, which reduces inflammation. Doctors believe that this chemical could be quite powerful.
Taking fish oil can’t prevent inflammation, and it does nothing to stop the progress of inflammatory diseases like arthritis or to treat the causes of inflammation themselves. However, at high doses of two to four grams a day, fish oil can relieve the pain associated with inflammation.
Conditions Fish Oil Benefits
Fish oil supplements can be of particular benefit in treating inflammatory arthritic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and lupus. Doctors believe that fish oil may also be of some benefit in treating a range of other diseases in which inflammation plays a role. Research into the benefits of fish oil for inflammation continues.
Choosing a Fish Oil Supplement
When choosing a fish oil supplement, look for a high grade supplement manufactured by a reputable brand. Choose oil made from mercury free fish. Lower grade oils may contain mercury or other unpleasant chemicals, so avoid them. When in doubt, ask for your doctor’s recommendation.
Fish Oil Concerns
Fish oil, especially when taken at the high doses required to relieve inflammation and pain, can increase the risk of bleeding and hemorrhage. If you’re taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or any other medications that thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding and hemorrhage, use caution when taking fish oil supplements and consult your doctor first.