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The #1 Best Supplement for Joint Pain, Say Dietitians

This particular fatty acid source can prevent the inflammation that causes it.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Joint pain can make simple daily tasks and activities like going for a walk or carrying groceries uncomfortable, or downright impossible. This aching, throbbing, or burning pain can be caused by inactivity, osteoarthritis, previous injuries, posture problems, or even just wear and tear due to aging. While there's no known cure for this type of pain, there are lots of steps you can take to manage and mitigate it. For one, registered dietitians say it's well worth considering your diet, which can play a key role in either increasing or controlling inflammation.

"Choosing foods that promote bone health, fight inflammation, and strengthen connective tissue can reduce joint pain and increase mobility," says Lindsey DeSoto, RDN and owner of The Dietitian Momma.

Joint pain is triggered by inflammation. So, if your diet tends to be high in foods known to trigger inflammation such as sugar, alcohol, or processed foods, that can worsen joint pain, explains Trista Best, RD at Balance One Supplements.

However, certain anti-inflammatory foods—like fish, olive oil, fruits, and veggies—can have the opposite effect. Supplements obviously offer a convenient way to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet. So, what's the best supplement for joint pain?

According to Jessica Mollet, RD, omega-3 fish oil is a must-have for mitigating those pesky aches and pangs. While you can get omega-3 fatty acids through your diet via foods like flax seeds, salmon, mackerel, herring, and walnuts, Mollet says many people don't get enough of these fats through food alone. That's why it can be helpful to take a daily fish oil supplement.

"Omega-3 fish oil helps with joint pain in two ways," adds Best. "Its anti-inflammatory characteristics reduce swelling around the joints. It also lubricates joints that are dry and in pain from osteoarthritis or overuse."

According to a 2006 study in the journal, Surgical Neurology International of patients taking daily omega-3 fish oil said their joint pain improved after taking a daily omega-3 fish oil supplement for 75 days. A whopping 80% said they were satisfied with the improvements, and 88% said they plan to continue taking fish oil.

Meanwhile, a 2007 review in the journal Pain found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements experienced a reduction in joint pain intensity, number of painful joints, and minutes of morning stiffness.

So, there you have it: a fish oil capsule a day just may keep the joint pain away. One last thing to keep in mind, though: while omega-3 fatty acids can be found in a variety of foods, it's important to note that the types found in fish oil—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—are known to be more beneficial than those found in plant sources.

Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more