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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 enquiries@arthritisresearchuk.org


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