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How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility!

How Fish Oil Increases Joint Mobility!

You may be taking fish oil to help prevent heart disease... But did you know that fish oil can also increase joint mobility? Learn more.

You may be taking fish oil to help prevent heart disease, because you heard it helps with depression or because it decreases the occurrence of dry eyes. But did you know that fish oil can also increase joint mobility?

Did You Know That Fish Oil Can Increase Joint Mobility?
Did You Know That Fish Oil Can Increase Joint Mobility?

What Is Fish Oil?

Fish oil contains the omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and decoxahexaenoic acid (DHA). There are several omega 3 fatty acids and each has a different metabolic fate in the body and different actions. Therefore the term "omega 3" can be somewhat misleading.

EPA and DHA are the two fatty acids that have been studied extensively for their ability to decrease certain cardiovascular risk factors, notably blood pressure and triglycerides. Though other omega 3 fats have some beneficial effects in the body, it makes sense to get the most bang for your buck.

The American Heart Association recommends fatty fish, which is rich in EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA have several beneficial effects in the body including decreasing certain kinds of inflammation.

The table below shows the different omega 3 fatty acids and how many steps it takes to break down other types of omega 3 fatty acids into EPA and DHA.

Studies show that just 8-21% of the omega 3 fatty acid ALA (found in flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil and fortified in some functional foods) is broken down to EPA (men are at the low end of this range) and 4-9% is broken down to DHA (again, men are at the low end of the range). Why are the levels so low? This process is inefficient and hampered by some other fats we eat (which compete for certain enzymes in the body).

Fatty Acid Sources Breaks Down To Steps To EPA Steps To DHA
Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) Flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil and some functional foods Stearidonic Acid (SDA) 3 5
Stearidonic Acid (SDA) SDA rich soybean oil from GMO soybeans Eicosatetraenoic Acid 2 4
Eicosatetraenoic Acid N/A Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) 1 3
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) Fatty fish, fish oil supplements Clupanodonic Acid N/A 2
Clupanodonic Acid N/A Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) N/A 1
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Fatty fish, fish oil supplements N/A N/A N/A

Intake of the fish oil omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are inversely related to fatal coronary heart disease, blood pressure (especially in older, hypertensive patients) and triglycerides. EPA and DHA may also decrease the symptoms associated with depression and certain inflammatory diseases in addition to enhancing joint motility.

How The Bodybuilding Supplement Fish Oil Can Enhance Joint Mobility

There are several factors that contribute to healthy joints. And, omega 3s enhance joint motility through a few different mechanisms.

  • EPA And DHA Decreased Inflammation: Studies show that EPA and DHA are more effective than ALA for decreasing several inflammatory markers. EPA and DHA also increase some anti-inflammatory markers such as IL-10, TGFbeta.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids Decrease the Progression Of Osteoarthritis: EPA and DHA inhibit the expression of various proteins that contribute to osteoarthritis. In addition, petri dish studies indicate that the omega 3 fatty acids, ALA and EPA decrease both the destruction and inflammatory aspects of cartilage cell metabolism.

    Omega 3 fatty acids are incorporated into cartilage cell (chondrocyte) membranes and in a dose dependent manner they decrease enzymes that degrade cartilage and inflammatory cytokines (IL-1alpha, TNF-alpha, COX-2) thereby affecting cartilage cell gene transcription.

  • Decreased Risk of Bone Marrow Lesions: A study in 293 adults without osteoarthritis, some with and some without knee pain, found that higher intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids or omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids were associated with an increased risk of bone marrow lesions.

    This study lends further support to the recommendation to balance fat intake and shift toward foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids while decreasing intake of omega 6 fatty acids.

  • Omega 3s Help Other Aspects Of Joint Health: Omega 3 fatty acids decrease symptoms of morning stiffness, tender or swollen joints and joint pain. They can also help increase blood flood during exercise.

You Should Balance Fat Intake And Shift Toward Foods Rich In Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
You Should Balance Fat Intake And Shift Toward Foods Rich In Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

Additional Tips To Help Increase Joint Mobility

  • Consider glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
  • If you have moderate or severe osteoarthritis not responding to other treatment modalities, ask your physician about synovis

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet loaded in colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Try tart cherry juice
  • Go to a physical therapist for help with your range of motion and to determine what muscles you need to strengthen as well as those you should stretch

Try non-impact activity (swimming, running in the water, water aerobics, stationary cycling) until your joints feel better.


Joint pain can limit your activity and cause distress. Luckily, how you train and eat can help. Aside from stretching and strengthening the surrounding muscles (while not overloading them too soon), you can also take omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fatty acids can potentially enhance joint motility through several biochemical processes including altering eicosanoid biosynthesis and signal transduction and influencing gene expression. In addition, fish oil in particular can decrease some cardiovascular disease risk factors at the same time.

As always, tell your physician about all supplements you are taking (including over the counter drugs such as ibuprophen or allergy medicine).

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  2. J Nutr 2009; 139(4):804S-19S.
  3. AHRQ Publication Number 04-E010-1.
  4. Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(36):4165-72.
  5. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2009;17(7):896-905.
  6. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006;91(2):439-46.
  7. Arthritis Rheum 2002;46(6):1544-53.
  8. Proc Nutr Soc 2002;61(3):381-9.
  9. Arthritis Rheum 2002;46(6):1544-53.
  10. Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2001;226(6):485-97.
  11. Arthritis Rheum 33:305-315, 1990.
  12. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83(6): S1505-1519S.
  13. FASEB, #688.8, San Diego, CA, April, 2005.
  14. Biol Chem 2000;275(2):721-4.

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About The Author

Marie Spano, MS, RD, Vice President of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) is a registered dietitian with a MS in Nutrition...

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Good Article Found The Information I Was Looking for Thanks A bunch !)

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Jul 20, 2012 5:14pm | report

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I'm going to start take them fish oil tablets:D x

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I have been taking fish oil and have noticed a leaner look to my body even while on a mass gaining diet and training phase

Dec 5, 2012 6:52pm | report
Kevin Mattson

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Kevin Mattson

Thank you for sharing this article Marie Spano! I am gonna share it in the forum with someone that has had trouble with Joint Pain. Thanks again... awesome work ;)

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I have rheumatoid arthritis and have been taking care of it he natural way. Seeking out any kind of tnf inhibitors that dont bringhorrible side effects. Liled this article.

May 5, 2014 1:25am | report
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