Combining omega-3 fatty acids with glucosamine achieves better improvements in joint health than glucosamine alone, a new study suggests.
In the study (1), 177 people with moderate-to-severe hip or knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to receive either a glucosamine sulfate supplement (1,500 milligrams per day) or glucosamine plus omega-3 fatty acids (providing 444 mg of fish oil, of which 200 mg were omega-3-fatty acids). Because the patients studied had moderate-to-severe knee or hip osteoarthritis pain, a placebo group was not used for ethical reasons.
After 26 weeks of supplementation, the researchers tested pain levels: while there was no significant difference between the number of responders in each group when a minimal pain reduction of at least 20 percent was used, significant differences were observed when a higher responder criterion of at least 80 pain reduction was used. Indeed, the combination product reduced morning stiffness and pain in the hips and knees by between 48.5 and 55.6 percent, compared to 41.7 to 55.3 percent in the glucosamine only group.
The amino sugar glucosamine is commonly used for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Since glucosamine is a precursor for a major component of joint cartilage, supplemental glucosamine may help to prevent cartilage degeneration and treat arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids may inhibit the inflammation process in osteoarthritis, whereas glucosamine sulfate further supports the rebuilding of lost cartilage substance.
Approximately seven million people in the U.K. alone are reported to have long-term health problems associated with arthritis.