Opened bottle of fish oil to help joints

Does fish oil help joints?

Medically reviewed on September 27, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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As you age, the lubricating fluid and cartilage between the joints can diminish, leading the joints to feel stiff or painful [1]. However, painful joints may also be a result of a chronic health condition, such as arthritis, obesity, or even anxiety [2].

Fortunately, a daily fish oil supplement can help to relieve some of the joint discomfort we feel throughout the day. That’s because fish oil contains an essential nutrient called "omega-3," a well-known anti-inflammatory fatty acid that may also support heart health [3].

The connection between fish oil and omega-3

Fish oil is a dietary supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids, essential nutrients that the body needs to perform some of its most basic and important functions, from growing new cells to powering the muscles [4].

But what exactly are essential nutrients? Essentially, they are nutrients that cannot be made by the body, despite the fact that they are essential to normal bodily functioning. Instead, we are reliant upon various food sources to obtain these substances.

Fortunately, omega-3 fatty acids occur naturally in the oils of certain types of fish, such as:

  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Herring

Fish oil is also present in some shellfish like crabs, mussels, and oysters. Additionally, if you’re looking to supplement your diet with fatty acids if avoiding seafood, you can find omega-3s in flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans [5]. For this reason, some may also question the difference between flaxseed oil vs. fish oil and the benefits of each. Nonetheless, there are many sources of omega-3 fatty acids, both from animals and plant sources. Omega-3 supplements are also another way of getting fatty acid supplementation besides consuming oily fish and/or plant-based sources.

Inflammation, your joints, and fish oil: what to know

Fish oil can play a big role in joint health. As a powerful anti-inflammatory, fish oil is a popular supplement for helping people manage joint pain. Inflammation can affect the joints in two major ways:

  • Inflammation from injury – Inflammation is often a normal immune response when the joints are damaged or injured. For example, if you sprain your wrist, the body will instigate an inflammatory response in an attempt to repair the damage, heal the joints, and grow new tissues [6]. The inflammation may cause puffiness and tenderness and may even be painful, but it is a biological part of the healing process.
  • Chronic inflammation – For others, inflammation of the joints can become chronic. That is, the joints become inflamed even when there aren’t any injuries to heal. Chronic joint inflammation can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and/or damage [6] (Related: Blood test for inflammation).

How can fish oil help with joint pain?

Does fish oil help joints feel better? It very well may. Whether the pain experienced is a result of an injury or chronic inflammation, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help to relieve the discomfort felt. That’s because omega-3s can fight inflammation by inhibiting an enzyme that creates inflammation-producing hormones [8].

In fact, people with chronic pain from joint inflammation who took fish oil supplements reported that they were less likely to experience [9]:

  • Joint stiffness in the morning
  • Joint stiffness later in the day
  • General joint pain

Additionally, a 2020 study found that older adults who were given a course of fish oil supplements reported that they experienced a significant reduction in joint pain [10]. This suggests that fish oil supplements may be an effective option for people who suffer from chronic joint pain and inflammatory joint conditions.

Additional benefits of fish oil

Aside from playing an active role in easing joint pain, fish oil may also support other bodily functions that aid:

  • Heart health [11]
  • Ocular health [12]
  • Skin health [13]
  • Liver health [14]
  • Bone health [15]

There’s also strong evidence that suggests that fish oil might have a positive effect on mental health [16].

How to take fish oil

Whether you’re looking to ease joint pain or to support full-body health, consuming fish oil regularly is an effective way to do it. Generally, there are two ways you can get your daily dose:

  • Alter your diet – As we mentioned above, fish oil is found in many common foods. If you’re trying to consume more fish oil, consider putting more on your plate. In addition to salmon and trout, you’ll find fish oil in light tuna, mackerel, herring, halibut, anchovies, and sardines [17]. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids also include vegetarian and vegan friendly sources such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, soybeans, and more.
  • Add a supplement – Fish oil supplements are available in liquid, capsule, and pill forms and are often fortified with other key vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, which can help support brain, skin, and ocular health [18].

Fortify your health and wellness with Everlywell

If you’re thinking of incorporating fish oil supplements into your daily routine, choose Everlywell. The Everlywell Omega-3 Fish Oil supplement can support the brain, heart, and skin, for a healthier you inside and out.

At Everlywell, we believe in empowering individuals to take control of their own health and wellness. And we’re helping people everywhere do just that with quality vitamins and supplements that fill the gaps in your diet. From fish oil, to vitamin D, to multivitamins that work overtime—plus our line of safe, certified at-home lab tests—Everlywell has everything you need to get a grasp on your overall health and wellness.

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4 fish oil benefits for skin


  1. Joint Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  2. Joint Pain: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  3. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2002;21(6):495-505. doi:10.1080/07315724.2002.10719248
  4. How To Relieve Arthritis Pain With Omega-3s. Cleveland Clinic. Published January 11, 2022. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  5. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements - Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Published 2017. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  6. Godman H. Chronic inflammation and your joints. Harvard Health. Published July 1, 2021. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  7. How To Relieve Arthritis Pain With Omega-3s. Cleveland Clinic. Published January 11, 2022. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  8. Why Omega-3 Oils Help at the Cellular Level. UC Health - UC San Diego. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  9. 4 Fish Oil Facts to Help Ease Joint Pain. UPMC HealthBeat. Published November 2, 2014. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  10. Kuszewski JC, Wong RHX, Howe PRC. Fish oil supplementation reduces osteoarthritis-specific pain in older adults with overweight/obesity. Rheumatology Advances in Practice. 2020;4(2). doi:10.1093/rap/rkaa036
  11. Fish oil. Mayo Clinic. Published 2017. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  12. Merle BMJ, Benlian P, Puche N, et al. Circulating omega-3 Fatty acids and neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2014;55(3):2010-2019. doi:10.1167/iovs.14-13916
  13. Balić A, Vlašić D, Žužul K, Marinović B, Bukvić Mokos Z. Omega-3 Versus Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Prevention and Treatment of Inflammatory Skin Diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020;21(3). doi:10.3390/ijms21030741
  14. Lu W, Li S, Li J, et al. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Meta-Analysis. Gastroenterology Research and Practice. 2016;2016:1-11. doi:10.1155/2016/1459790
  15. Sharma T, Mandal CC. Omega‐3 fatty acids in pathological calcification and bone health. Journal of Food Biochemistry. 2020;44(8). doi:10.1111/jfbc.13333
  16. Amminger GP, Schäfer MR, Papageorgiou K, et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for indicated prevention of psychotic disorders: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(2):146-154. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.192
  17. How To Relieve Arthritis Pain With Omega-3s. Cleveland Clinic. Published January 11, 2022. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
  18. Mayo Clinic. Vitamin E. Mayo Clinic. Published 2017. Accessed September 27, 2022. URL
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