How much evidence do we have that fish oil helps arthritis? Fish oil and the omega-3 fatty acids it contains (especially EPA) has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve blogged before on studies showing a reduction in rheumatoid arthritis risk for those taking the highest doses of fish oil and that there’s less knee arthritis among the heavy Iceland Eskimos who consume copious amounts of fish oil. In addition other studies have shown that people with the highest omega 3 concentration in their blood stream have lower cartilage loss from certain parts of the knee. However, while many patient studies exist in the Veterinary world showing improvement in pain and function in arthritic dogs and cats who are given fish oil, studies showing differences in function of humans with arthritis who take fish oil are less common. This new study measured walking speed in elderly women after taking fish oil capsules for 6 months versus placebo pills (olive oil). The women on the fish oil capsules had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood and were able to walk faster than women who took the placebo and the statistics showed that this was likely related to the fish oil. In addition, taking the fish oil reduced inflammatory lab markers associated with arthritis. The upshot? In women after menopause, fish oil may be a great way to reduce joint swelling and increase their function. In addition, with the cardiovascular benefits of fish oil being well studied, the benefits to arthritis are a nice fringe benefit.