Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids and RA symptoms

Nutrition is an important part of arthritis management. The decisions you make about what you eat can have an impact on your overall health and wellness. While you should reduce your unhealthy fat intake, certain other fats can be helpful. In fact, research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can help control rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced naturally by the human body, making them an essential part of your diet. They can be found in fish (such as salmon, mackerel or sardines), plant oils (like flaxseed or canola oil) and nuts and seeds (including flax, chia seeds and walnuts). There are also omega-3 supplements which provide various doses of omega-3s.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reduced inflammation for people with RA.  The results from a 2018 study suggest that consuming fish 2 or more times per week can play a role in reducing disease activity in people with rheumatoid arthritis.  Additionally, in 20 clinical trials of omega-3 supplementation for people with RA, 16 showed a link between omega-3s and significant improvements in RA symptoms. There has also been recent research that has found a link between omega-3 supplementation and reduced disease activity in people with RA. In a study of 1,557 people with RA, participants who reported taking omega-3 supplements had lower disease activity scores, less swollen joints, and less painful joints on average compared to those who did not take omega-3 supplements.

Research continues into the benefits of omega-3s as part of an arthritis-friendly diet. You can learn more about omega-3s and related research at these links:

This information was reviewed in August 2020 with expert advice from:

Kim Arrey, BSc, RD
President, Kim Arrey Nutrition