We're using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you're agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more

Are purine levels in fish oil high?

Q) I have always understood that fish oil tablets and oily fish were important for those suffering from gout and osteoarthritis. Having read a book called Beating Gout it seems that these are high purine foods and should only be eaten in moderation as they raise uric acid levels. I would very much appreciate your opinion.
Ann, Crickhowell (Spring 2014)

A) You are correct. There is a problem with the advice given. Fish oil has beneficial effects on inflammation (any form of tissue inflammation, including attacks of gout, but also it has been shown to help the pain of osteoarthritis). Fish oil is also beneficial for the heart, possibly by a similar action. On the other hand, high purine foods, such as meat and fish, are not recommended for people with gout as purines are converted to uric acid in the body. A compromise, which I recommend, is for the patient to take one or two fish oil capsules (or a capsule that contains omega 3 fatty acids – see Arthritis Research UK booklet on Diet and arthritis) daily instead of the oily fish.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Spring 2014 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to

Keep up to date with the latest from Arthritis TodaySign up today.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

Ask a question

We're now

Versus Arthritis.

You're being taken through to our new website in order to finish your donation.

Thank you for your generosity.

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.