I recently discovered I have osteoarthritis in both knees. Apparently this makes me similar to 1 in 5 adults (US study) who also all have arthritis, the most common form of it being osteoarthritis. We all have cartilage damage in one or more joints and typically also have a reduction in synovial fluid which makes our bones and joints feel stiff and painful.
Arthritis is twice as high as this average statistic amongst obese individuals due to the increased pressure they are putting on their joints. Losing weight, exercise and a change in diet and lifestyle is key for all those suffering from arthritis already and obviously a good idea for everyone to ensure you do not get this debilitating disease as you get older.
It’s all a bit of a shock for me – I am not overweight, I exercise a lot and two years ago I changed my diet dramatically to incorporate clean eating principles, more organic foods, less gluten and also include a range of natural supplements and shakes that help me get all the vital nutrients I need on a daily basis. However my doctor simply explained it as a matter of anatomy – years of exercising NOT in an optimal fashion for the overall support of my knees has meant too much wear and tear on this essential joint for a triathlete (and I am sure tearing my ACL as a result of a rugby incident when I was 25 did not help!)
So now I have it, what can I do? Well, in line with my focus on using naturally occurring nutrients to help improve my lifestyle I researched what the experts have to say. It seemed obvious to me that the ongoing use of anti inflammatory drugs such as Voltaren and Tylenol could not be the answer – all these drugs are known to have a very serious negative impact on the gut causing ulcers and other horrid gut issues.
The most important naturally occurring anti-inflammatory substance available is Omega 3’s derived from animal sources. Omega 3’s (or EPA and DHA) are naturally found in fish – so increasing the amount of fish you eat in a week is key. BUT – experts are also quick to point out these days that too much fish can also be an issue given the high pollution concerns around many fish in the food chain. I love salmon and fish but not every day and not if it’s polluted so I quickly turned to supplementation.
The RDA for Omega 3’s is quite low at 250mg though different countries quote amounts up to 500mg. For us arthritis sufferers we should quickly multiply this number by factors up to 4 or 5 times daily. And there are two key supplements to look at – fish oils and krill oil.
Both are good but experts suggest krill oil tips the balance over fish oil due to the inclusion within krill oil of antioxidants particularly astaxanthin as well as Vitamins E, A and D making it more potent for the same amount of EPA and DHA. Its also sustainably farmed and well regulated with better absorption than fish oil.
One thought though before you go shopping and head for the nearest krill oil you can find. Take your specs, and your calculator and do the maths before you purchase. In a shopping expedition today at a local pharmacy I was supported by a sales rep knowing nothing about DHA and EPA who also could not explain why krill oil was more effective than fish oil despite seemingly containing lower amount of DHA and EPA per tablet. I also looked at the back of all the canisters available on the shelves and was horrified to see the price does not relate at all to the total amounts of DHA and EPA (the effective ingredients) in each tablet.
Try to break down the price of the cannister to the price per mg of DHA and EPA you will receive – a large pack of 100 tablets priced at $30 with only 200mg DHA and EPA combined (making it $1 for 666mg of EPA/DHA) is more expensive per mg of the active ingredients than a smaller pack of 60 tablets priced at $35 which deliver 500mg DHA/EPA combination ($1 for 857mg Omega 3).
AND – when looking at krill oils some mentioned astaxanthin and some did not. Since you are only willing to pay the price differential for the REAL krill oil with all the antioxidants please ensure you are getting a naturally occurring source rather than a laboratory manufactured source missing out the important anti-oxidants.
I am happy to say that my own range of supplements that I adopted two years ago and have been using ever since have an extremely good source of Omega 3’s derived naturally from clean fish sources with added antioxidants. Each tablet delivers 630mg of DHA and EPA combined – in all my pharmacy research I did not find a tablet delivering more mg of the active ingredients than the one I already use. When I cross checked the price against the other sources I find I am happy with the $28 for 60 tablets each at 630mg that I pay ($1 for 1350mg Omega 3 – WINNER!). And my tablets are third party tested for guaranteed purity and effectivity. After researching what an OA sufferer requires I shall be increasing the amount of tablets I have daily to four rather than two (which was already about the RDA as quoted above). The rest of my diet is high in antioxidants anyway and one of my other supplements has astaxanthin which has been quoted as the most important antioxidant when taking Omega 3s.
I can’t reverse the damage in my knees but I can make the pain less and prevent the cartilage loss from increasing. And meanwhile I feel fit and fabulous from my overall diet and supplementation.
If you need help searching through the different forms of Omega 3’s on the market or if you are overweight and worrying about the effects of this on your health then please get in touch – I can help. I’d hate for you too to become an arthritis sufferer like myself.