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Research – Omega-3 Helps reduce inflammation associated with arthritis

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Arthritis, particularly osteo and rheumatoid, is a major condition which affects millions of people worldwide. It is estimated that 30% of Western Europe or United States populations have some form of arthritic symptom, with 10% experiencing disability as a direct result.{{more}} And with an ageing population increasing the burden placed on joints, the number of people being affected by arthritic conditions is set to rise.

In a recent study, scientists have revealed that dietary omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids can reduce inflammation, a symptom associated with arthritis.

The research looked at the effects of these fatty acids on the amount and activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 in bovine chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and in chondrocytes taken from human arthritic joints. The cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme is responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandins,

some of which have an inflammatory action. Two forms of COX exist and it is COX-2 that is produced particularly by inflammatory factors. COX-2 levels and activity are elevated in arthritis, contributing to continued inflammation.

According to the research, bovine and human in vitro systems that mimic arthritis were used. Growing the (healthy) bovine chondrocytes in the presence of EPA, the amount of COX-2 protein produced when the cells were stimulated was reduced significantly. Further, the amount of prostaglandin E2, a measure of COX-2 activity, was also reduced. Even in the human chondrocytes, taken from ‘arthritic cartilage’, EPA was able to reduce the high COX-2 protein levels and the enzyme’s activity.

In contrast, adding the omega-6 PUFA arachidonic acid to the chondrocytes did not reduce the amount of COX-2 showing that arachidonic acid can maintain inflammation.

One way in which you can help keep your joints supple, flexible and healthy is to ensure you are consuming not only enough dietary omega-3 but the right ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. As the research reveals, omega-6 can have a pro-inflammatory effect on the joints.

The omega-3 nutrients EPA and DHA are not produced naturally by the body. Therefore, they must be obtained through diet. The richest levels of omega-3 can be found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and herring. However, as many people do not like the taste or even the cooking of oily fish, taking a cod liver oil or fish oil supplement which is also naturally rich in Omega-3 can be an excellent alternative. Products in the Seven Seas Cod Liver Oil or Seven Seas JointCare range, which also contains Glucosamine, offer a variety of options for those of you looking for a supplement alternative.