It’s an unspoken secret of middle age: Nobody admits they feel differently than they used to, though everyone does. When you can’t fool yourself any longer, you must grudgingly acknowledge body parts. You notice your back because it’s now sore after a day of yard work. You discover your knees while jogging. You didn’t even know your groin had muscles, until you pulled one. You get the idea.
So, what to do when this begins to happen? First, realize that even if you think you’re still 20, your body doesn’t. After that, you can pretty much get back to business, with a better mindset toward maintaining long-term health. Second, make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s.
Why Omega-3s for Healthy Joints
There’s a lot of evidence that omega-3 fats are great for joints, even though most people think heart health when they hear “omega-3s.” Marine-based omega-3s (not omega-3s from flaxseed, for example) are masters at helping the body respond to inflammation, right down to the cellular level.* This is ideal for your body’s more than 300 joints, where repetitive movement introduces friction that can cause gradual wear and tear.
As you probably know, inflammation is a protective mechanism that keeps the clusters of bones, muscles, and connective tissues insulated against further movement, and potential harm. Of course, too much inflammation can be a problem. That’s why it’s so important for your body to be able to address acute inflammation after exercising.
Bodies in Motion
Each year around this time, Nordic Naturals sponsors the Challenger Tournament in Aptos, California, where spectators are treated to some serious tennis (Andy Murray was the singles champ years ago). With tennis being the talk of the town, I contacted former pro and coach Brad Weston to get his take on training and nutrition.
“Professional athletes simply wear out their joints from thousands of repetitive movements,” Weston told me. “When they experience too much pain and inflammation it can have a devastating effect on performance.”
I asked about the rest of us. Should we really be concerned by a little tennis elbow?
“When people feel discomfort, they start to overcompensate and put their bodies in unnatural positions,” he explained. “This greatly increases the chance of injury. From one painful area, it can create another.”
My takeaway: Athlete or not, it’s important to keep joints working well, as even small injuries can compound into larger problems.
First-Hand Experience Meets First-Rate Research
You could say that Nordic Naturals itself is the result of one man’s passion for pain-free movement. Company’s founder and CEO Joar Opheim is a native of Norway, and a former gymnast. When he moved to the U.S. he lost access to the fresh Norwegian cod liver oil he was raised on, and quickly noticed how his daily omega-3 regimen had been benefiting his hard-working joints.* Like many of us, he only began to notice body parts when they weren’t working like they used to.
Science generally confirms Joar’s experience. The benefits of increased consumption of omega-3s are documented by numerous clinical studies. It’s worth noting that many of these studies use higher amounts than what’s found in a typical serving of fish oil. For joint health, 2,000–3,000 milligrams (2–3 grams) daily is not uncommon.* For customers, this typically means looking for products with highly concentrated amounts of EPA and DHA, the most beneficial omega-3 fats.*
A whole lifetime of joint movement is impossible to quantify, but it’s safe to say that at some point you’ll start to notice your joints. Now is as good a time as ever to make the right moves to keep your body working well.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Proudman SM, Cleland LG, James MJ. Dietary omega-3 fats for treatment of inflammatory joint disease: efficacy and utility. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2008;34(2):469-79.
Goldberg RJ, Katz J. A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Pain 2007;129:210–223.
Calder PC. n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83:S1505–1519S.
Maroon JC, Bost JW. Omega-3 Fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti- inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical Neurology 2006;65:326–331.
Curtis CL, Harwood JL, Dent CM, et al. Biological basis for the benefit of nutraceutical supplementation in arthritis. Drug Discov Today. 2004;9(4):165-72.
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