There are many forms of arthritis with the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, both painful conditions involving the joints and bones. With osteoarthritis, the most common form, the cartilage between the bones wears away, resulting in the bones rubbing together in the joint areas. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints, resulting in pain and inflammation.
A balanced diet is important for people with arthritis, but the addition of particular foods and supplements can help alleviate symptoms as well as reduce the risk of these conditions for people who do not yet have them. The fats found in fish oil have an anti-inflammatory affect, so the Food Standards Agency recommends two portions a week of fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines. The Agency does warn against consuming too much vitamin A (found in some fish oil supplements) because it may increase the risk of bone fractures. No more than 1.5 mg of vitamin A should be consumed each day.
Supplements that may help are glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin, and vitamin D, according to the Arthritis Research Campaign. Research about glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin is not conclusive, but there is much anecdotal evidence indicating relief from these supplements. Both naturally occur in the cartilage, so the theory is that they will help heal damaged cartilage, as with osteoarthritis. Arthritis may progress faster in people with low levels of vitamin D, so this supplement may help people, particularly those who are older, with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.