Lupus or systemic lupus erythematosus is a long-term disease that affects the bones, cartilage and other parts of the body that helps in motility.
Organs other than these are also affected as a complication of the disease these organs include brain, skin, kidney, lungs, etc.
Lupus is known to affect more women than men. The exact reason for this selectivity could be lying within the hormonal aspect.
The factors that can trigger lupus can be environmental, chemical exposure, sunlight, hormonal variation, diet, stress, and infections.
The symptoms of lupus are easily confused with others and it needs time and expertise to be diagnosed. It can cause joint pain, skin rash, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, etc.
Lupus can be well managed with medications like analgesics, antimalarials, biologics, and immune suppressants. Other additional therapies like alternative therapies, exercise, diet changes can also help lupus patients to a great extent.
What are Omega-3-Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 Fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). It is an essential fatty acid that is not synthesized within the human body. Therefore, it must be taken from dietary sources.
The three main and widely studies omega-3 fatty acids are Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega 3 fatty acids are known to be effective in maintaining a healthy brain and heart. It is a great supplement that reduces the risk of stroke and heart diseases.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood like salmon, tuna, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and trout. Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids are found in walnuts, flaxseed, chia seed, soybean, tofu, and canola oil.
Research on omega-3 fatty acids is extensive. They have confirmed its benefits in reducing heart problems, promoting brain development, cancer prevention, arthritis, depression, etc.
Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Lupus Patients
The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in lupus are due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help in reducing the inflammation and cell damage in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids have a good role to play in reducing joint pain, swelling and reducing the medication dose. It is also beneficial in reducing fatigue and depression in lupus patients.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Relieve Joint Problems in Lupus Patients
Joint pain or arthritis is one of the symptoms of lupus which leads them to take numerous medication and alternative therapies just to relive this troublesome symptom.
A scientific literature review on omega-3 fatty acids shows that it is an amazing supplement that helps in reducing joint pain in patients suffering from arthritis.
A trial conducted on 46 patients for 24 weeks proved that omega-3 fatty acids have a significant benefit is improving the joint function and in reducing swollen joints.
Another clinical trial with 60 patients found that patients had a better level of pain control and reduced swelling in the joints after using omega-3 fatty acids.
Moreover, this study also found that the amount of pain killer medication required was reduced with the intake of omega-3 fatty acids in patients.
What does this mean? The omega-3 fatty acid has been proven to be an excellent joint pain aid that reduces joint swelling and helps in reducing the dose of their medications.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Curb Inflammation in Lupus
Inflammation is a common problem in autoimmune diseases like lupus. Omega-3 fatty acids have been identified to reduce the inflammation in such diseases to a significant level.
A study published in The Brazilian Journal of Rheumatology reviewed 15 pieces of research conducted on the usage of omega-3 fatty acids by lupus patients. It showed that using omega-3 fatty acids in lupus patients reduces inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids alter the inflammatory process in the body by affecting the cell membranes within the body. This leads to a lower level of inflammation in the body.
A clinical trial on 60 patients with autoimmune disease proved the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing the inflammation in their body to a significant level.
What does this mean? Omega-3 fatty acids are known to possess great anti-inflammatory action. It can be a good supplement that can benefit patients with immune-related diseases.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Relives Depression in Lupus Patients
The incidence of depression is common in lupus patients. It can greatly hinder their quality of life causing both physical and mental exhaustion.
Scientific research on depression patients shows that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce depression up to 50% or more when taken for a month at least.
A lack of omega-3 fatty acids within the body is one of the causes of depression. In such a case supplementing omega-3 would be highly beneficial in curbing depression.
A meta-analysis (A study that pools together numerous studies on a topic to arrive at a conclusion that is stronger) of 26 studies determined that patients’ higher intake of fish had a lesser chance of developing depression.
Fish intake means an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. This can be the cause of a reduction of depression.
However, it must be noted that there is a lack of evidence of this nature in patients with lupus which warrants further studies.
What does this mean? Depression is common among lupus patients and at most times needs therapy. Omega-3 fatty acids strongly evidenced with ability to reduce depression in lupus patients.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce Oxidative Stress in Lupus
Higher oxidative stress in lupus patients is seen due to reduced antioxidants in the body. Antioxidant intake is necessary to restore this balance.
Omega-3 fatty acids are excellent antioxidants that can help restore the antioxidant imbalance in lupus patients.
A study on 71 patients showed an increase in the antioxidant defense system of the body. The oxidative stress levels improved in those patients.
Omega-3 activates the mitochondria (the energy-producing cell structures) which then oxidizes the fatty acids to improve the antioxidant capacity in the body.
What does this mean? Omega-3 fatty acids are a powerful antioxidant that reduces the oxidative stress in lupus patients and prevents the damage caused to cells by higher oxidative stress in the body.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Provides Fatigue Relief in Lupus
Fatigue or feeling excessively tired or exhausted is a common symptom in lupus patients.
Scientists conclude from investigations that depression and fatigue are inter-related in some of the patients, reducing their quality of life.
Therefore, reducing depression by omega-3 fatty acid leads to a reduction in fatigue too.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been known to reduce muscle tiredness which can help in reducing the exercise-related discomfort in patients staring physical therapy.
However, it must be noted that strong and direct evidence of omega-3 fatty acid benefits in lupus patients have not been ascertained by research trials to date. Therefore, more research trials on lupus patients are needed.
What does this mean? Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the fatigue symptoms in lupus patients and help in improving their energy levels by reducing muscle tiredness.
How to Take – Dosage
Omega-3 fatty acids can be included in the diet in the form of whole foods that contain omega-3 fats in abundance like salmon, walnut, tuna, mackerel, flaxseed, etc.
Consuming about 8 ounces of seafood variety per week can provide sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also available in the form of capsules that can be taken orally. A safe dose of 5 g per day (i.e. 2.5g of EPA and 2.5 g of DPA) is recommended to be safe.
However, the FDA recommends not exceeding 3g per day (i.e. Both EPA and DPA combined).
The best possible solution is to reconcile with your medical practitioner and decide the best dose for you if you are planning to take capsules orally.
Omega-3 fatty acids taken are generally safe, especially from whole foods. Omega-3 medications may interact with your medication like warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding.
Higher doses other than the recommended dose or safe dose must be taken only after taking advice from your doctor.
In the end...
Omega-3 fatty acids are a great source of nutrients that are not available in the body and need to be included in our diet.
Lupus patients can benefit from taking omega-3 fatty acids as it has the power to reduce inflammation and improve antioxidant capacity in the body. It can reduce the joint pain and swelling that is commonly seen in lupus.
Depression and fatigue in lupus patients can also be reduced by using omega-3 fatty acids, as demonstrated good results in scientific researches.
Omega-3 fatty acids are thus regarded as a safe yet effective and easily available supplement for lupus patients that can help lighten their burden of symptoms.