Category Archives: Omega-3

Genistein + EPA + DHA + Vitamin D + K1 Increases Bone Density in Postmenopausal Women


Effect of a combination of genistein, polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamins D3 and K1 on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot study.

Many postmenopausal women desire non-pharmaceutical alternatives to hormone therapy for protection against osteoporosis. Soybean isoflavones, especially genistein, are being studied for this purpose. This study examined the effects of synthetic genistein in combination with other potential bone-protective dietary molecules on bone mineral density (BMD) in early postmenopausal women.
In this 6-month double-blind pilot study, 70 subjects were randomized to receive daily either calcium only or the geniVida™ bone blend (GBB), which consisted of genistein (30 mg/days), vitamin D3 (800 IU/days), vitamin K1 (150 μg/days) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (1 g polyunsaturated fatty acids as ethyl ester: eicosapentaenoic acid/docosahexaenoic acid ratio = ~2/1). Markers of bone resorption and formation and BMD at the femoral neck, lumbar spine, Ward’s triangle, trochanter and intertrochanter, total hip and whole body were assessed.
Subjects supplemented with the GBB (n = 30) maintained femoral neck BMD, whereas in the placebo group (n = 28), BMD significantly decreased (p = 0.007). There was also a significant difference (p < 0.05) in BMD between the groups at Ward’s triangle in favor of the GBB group. Bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and N-telopeptide significantly increased in the GBB group in comparison with those in baseline and in the placebo group. The GBB was well tolerated, and there were no significant differences in adverse events between groups.
The GBB may help to prevent osteoporosis and reduce fracture risk, at least at the hip, in postmenopausal women. Larger and longer-term clinical trials are warranted.

Lappe J, Kunz I, Bendik I, Prudence K…
Eur J Nutr Feb 2013
PMID: 22302614 | Free Full Text

Omega-3 Associated with Peak Bone Density in Men


n-3 Fatty acids are positively associated with peak bone mineral density and bone accrual in healthy men: the NO2 Study.

Knowledge of the influence of nutritional intake on bone health is limited. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been suggested to influence bone growth and modeling in humans, although data are sparse.
The objective was to investigate the role of fatty acids in bone accumulation and the attainment of peak bone mass in young men.
The cohort studied consisted of 78 healthy young men with a mean age of 16.7 y at baseline. Bone mineral density (BMD; in g/cm(2)) of total body, hip, and spine was measured at baseline and at 22 and 24 y of age. Fatty acid concentrations were measured in the phospholipid fraction in serum at 22 y of age.
Concentrations of n-3 fatty acids were positively associated with total BMD (r = 0.27, P = 0.02) and spine BMD (r = 0.25, P = 0.02) at 22 y of age. A positive correlation between n-3 fatty acid concentrations and the changes in BMD at the spine (r = 0.26, P = 0.02) was found between 16 and 22 y of age. Concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) were positively associated with total BMD (r = 0.32, P = 0.004) and BMD at the spine (r = 0.30, P = 0.008) at 22 y of age. A positive correlation was also found between DHA concentrations and the changes in BMD at the spine (r = 0.26, P = 0.02) between 16 and 22 y of age.
The results showed that n-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are positively associated with bone mineral accrual and, thus, with peak BMD in young men.

Högström M, Nordström P, Nordström A
Am. J. Clin. Nutr. Mar 2007
PMID: 17344503 | Free Full Text

High Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratios Increase Fracture Risk and Doubles Risk for Ratios > 6


The association of red blood cell n-3 and n-6 fatty acids with bone mineral density and hip fracture risk in the women’s health initiative.

Omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in red blood cells (RBCs) are an objective indicator of PUFA status and may be related to hip fracture risk. The primary objective of this study was to examine RBC PUFAs as predictors of hip fracture risk in postmenopausal women. A nested case-control study (n = 400 pairs) was completed within the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) using 201 incident hip fracture cases from the Bone Mineral Density (BMD) cohort, along with 199 additional incident hip fracture cases randomly selected from the WHI Observational Study. Cases were 1:1 matched on age, race, and hormone use with non-hip fracture controls. Stored baseline RBCs were analyzed for fatty acids using gas chromatography. After removing degraded samples, 324 matched pairs were included in statistical analyses. Stratified Cox proportional hazard models were constructed according to case-control pair status; risk of fracture was estimated for tertiles of RBC PUFA. In adjusted hazard models, lower hip fracture risk was associated with higher RBC α-linolenic acid (tertile 3 [T3] hazard ratio [HR]: 0.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.23-0.85; p for linear trend 0.0154), eicosapentaenoic acid (T3 HR: 0.46; 95% CI, 0.24-0.87; p for linear trend 0.0181), and total n-3 PUFAs (T3 HR: 0.55; 95% CI, 0.30-1.01; p for linear trend 0.0492). Conversely, hip fracture nearly doubled with the highest RBC n-6/n-3 ratio (T3 HR: 1.96; 95% CI, 1.03-3.70; p for linear trend 0.0399). RBC PUFAs were not associated with BMD. RBC PUFAs were indicative of dietary intake of marine n-3 PUFAs (Spearman’s rho = 0.45, p < 0.0001), total n-6 PUFAs (rho = 0.17, p < 0.0001) and linoleic acid (rho = 0.09, p < 0.05). These results suggest that higher RBC α-linolenic acid, as well as eicosapentaenoic acid and total n-3 PUFAs, may predict lower hip fracture risk. Contrastingly, a higher RBC n-6/n-3 ratio may predict higher hip fracture risk in postmenopausal women.

Orchard TS, Ing SW, Lu B, Belury MA…
J. Bone Miner. Res. Mar 2013
PMID: 23018646 | Free Full Text

The full text has a nice chart showing the hazard ratios for the various fatty acids they looked at.

The Omega-6:Omega-3 ratios and their respective hazard ratios were:

Omega-6:Omega-3 Ratio 1.48–5.00 5.01–6.07 6.08–10.59
Hazard Ratio 1.00 1.28 (0.71–2.30) 1.96 (1.03–3.70)

[Hazard Ratios] for hip fracture by tertiles of RBC FAs with multivariate adjustment for risk factors per Robbins and colleagues37 are reported in Table 3. No significant associations were found between RBC total SFA, MUFA, or PUFA and risk of hip fracture. However, there was a significant inverse linear association between hip fracture risk and total n-3 FAs in RBCs (p for linear trend 0.0492). When examining individual n-3 FAs, there was a 56% lower relative risk of hip fracture with highest RBC ALA (tertile 3 [T3] hazard ratio [HR]: 0.44; 95% CI, 0.23–0.85; p for linear trend 0.0154), and a 54% lower hip fracture risk with highest EPA levels (T3 HR: 0.46; 95% CI, 0.24–0.87; p for linear trend 0.0181) compared to T1. Neither DHA nor the n-3 index was significantly associated with risk of fracture. In contrast, hip fracture risk nearly doubled in women in the highest tertile of the n-6/n-3 FA ratio (HR T3: 1.96; 95% CI, 1.03–3.70; p for linear trend 0.0399). Because the n-6/n-3 FA ratio in RBCs primarily reflects the ratio of AA to EPA and DHA, we further examined the relation of the AA/EPA + DHA ratio to hip fracture risk. Similar to the n-6/n-3 FA ratio, a higher AA/EPA + DHA ratio produced higher HR for hip fracture, but the association was not significant (T3 HR: 1.69; 95% CI, 0.86–3.31; p for linear trend 0.1242). Although the direction of association between total n-6 FAs, AA, and hip fracture was toward harm, there was no significant relation of either total n-6 FAs or AA with hip fracture. There was an inverse direction of association between LA and hip fracture risk, but again, this was not statistically significant (T3 HR: 0.77; 95% CI, 0.40–1.49; p for linear trend 0.5140). Inclusion of additional potential confounders (alcohol consumption, total energy intake, total calcium intake, total vitamin D intake, and multivitamin use) in the model produced similar results….

Review: Flaxseed Oil, but not Flax Lignans, may Help Bones


Implications of dietary α-linolenic acid in bone health.

Recent evidence implies the benefit of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in bone health. Although eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, present in fish oil, have been extensively researched, much less is known about the influence of α-linolenic acid (ALA; present in flaxseeds), a metabolic precursor of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, on bone. Our objective was to evaluate the published literature and distinguish between the individual effects of flaxseed oil and flax lignans on bone to elucidate the exact role of ALA in skeletal biology. The search was conducted in several databases resulting in 129 articles of which 30 were eligible for inclusion in this review. The studies showed that consumption of whole flaxseeds did not lead to a marked improvement of osteoporotic bones in humans and animals. However, when combined with estrogen therapy, flaxseed supplementation offered an extra benefit to bone in animal models. Similar results were found in studies conducted with flaxseed oil (predominantly ALA), but the favorable role of flaxseed oil was more obvious in various pathologic conditions (kidney disease, obesity with insulin resistance), resulting in improved bone properties. In contrast, despite a marginal estrogenic effect, the consumption of flax lignans resulted in little benefit to bone and the effect was limited to early life of females only in animal models. Based on the available studies, it could be concluded that supplementation with flaxseeds may contribute to some improvement in osteoporotic bone properties but the bone-protective effect may be attributed to ALA, not to the lignan fraction of flaxseeds.

Kim Y, Ilich JZ
PMID: 21726979

Review: Essential Fatty Acids may Help Bones


Can manipulation of the ratios of essential fatty acids slow the rapid rate of postmenopausal bone loss?

The rapid rate of postmenopausal bone loss is mediated by the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Dietary supplementation with fish oil, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil in animals and healthy humans significantly reduces cytokine production while concomitantly increasing calcium absorption, bone calcium, and bone density. Possibilities may exist for the therapeutic use of the omega-3 fatty acids, as supplements or in the diet, to blunt the increase of the inflammatory bone resorbing cytokines produced in the early postmenopausal years, in order to slow the rapid rate of postmenopausal bone loss. Evidence also points to the possible benefit of gamma-linolenic acid in preserving bone density.

Kettler DB
Altern Med Rev Feb 2001
PMID: 11207457 | Free Full Text

Omega-3 from Flaxseed or Nuts may Decrease Resorption


An increase in dietary n-3 fatty acids decreases a marker of bone resorption in humans.

Human, animal, and in vitro research indicates a beneficial effect of appropriate amounts of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on bone health. This is the first controlled feeding study in humans to evaluate the effect of dietary plant-derived n-3 PUFA on bone turnover, assessed by serum concentrations of N-telopeptides (NTx) and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP). Subjects (n = 23) consumed each diet for 6 weeks in a randomized, 3-period crossover design: 1) Average American Diet (AAD; [34% total fat, 13% saturated fatty acids (SFA), 13% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), 9% PUFA (7.7% LA, 0.8% ALA)]), 2) Linoleic Acid Diet (LA; [37% total fat, 9% SFA, 12% MUFA, 16% PUFA (12.6% LA, 3.6% ALA)]), and 3) alpha-Linolenic Acid Diet (ALA; [38% total fat, 8% SFA, 12% MUFA, 17% PUFA (10.5% LA, 6.5% ALA)]). Walnuts and flaxseed oil were the predominant sources of ALA. NTx levels were significantly lower following the ALA diet (13.20 +/- 1.21 nM BCE), relative to the AAD (15.59 +/- 1.21 nM BCE) (p < 0.05). Mean NTx level following the LA diet was 13.80 +/- 1.21 nM BCE. There was no change in levels of BSAP across the three diets. Concentrations of NTx were positively correlated with the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFalpha for all three diets. The results indicate that plant sources of dietary n-3 PUFA may have a protective effect on bone metabolism via a decrease in bone resorption in the presence of consistent levels of bone formation.

Griel AE, Kris-Etherton PM, Hilpert KF, Zhao G…
Nutr J 2007
PMID: 17227589 | Free Full Text

Fish Oil or Borage Oil Improve Bone in Mice


Borage and fish oils lifelong supplementation decreases inflammation and improves bone health in a murine model of senile osteoporosis.

Fats are prevalent in western diets; they have known deleterious effects on muscle insulin resistance and may contribute to bone loss. However, relationships between fatty acids and locomotor system dysfunctions in elderly population remain controversial. The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of fatty acid quality on the age related evolution of the locomotor system and to understand which aging mechanisms are involved. In order to analyze age related complications, the SAMP8 mouse strain was chosen as a progeria model as compared to the SAMR1 control strain. Then, two months old mice were divided in different groups and subjected to the following diets : (1) standard “growth” diet – (2) “sunflower” diet (high ω6/ω3 ratio) – (3) “borage” diet (high γ-linolenic acid) – (4) “fish” diet (high in long chain ω3). Mice were fed ad libitum through the whole protocol. At 12 months old, the mice were sacrificed and tissues were harvested for bone studies, fat and muscle mass measures, inflammation parameters and bone cell marker expression. We demonstrated for the first time that borage and fish diets restored inflammation and bone parameters using an original model of senile osteoporosis that mimics clinical features of aging in humans. Therefore, our study strongly encourages nutritional approaches as relevant and promising strategies for preventing aged-related locomotor dysfunctions.

Wauquier F, Barquissau V, Léotoing L, Davicco MJ…
Bone Feb 2012
PMID: 21664309

Review: Studies on GLA, Omega 3, and Other Fatty Acids


Polyunsaturated fatty acids: biochemical, nutritional and epigenetic properties.

Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have effects on diverse physiological processes impacting normal health and chronic diseases, such as the regulation of plasma lipid levels, cardiovascular and immune function, insulin action and neuronal development and visual function. Ingestion of PUFA will lead to their distribution to virtually every cell in the body with effects on membrane composition and function, eicosanoid synthesis, cellular signaling and regulation of gene expression. Cell specific lipid metabolism, as well as the expression of fatty acid-regulated transcription factors, likely play an important role in determining how cells respond to changes in PUFA composition. This review will focus on recent advances on the essentiality of these molecules and on their interplay in cell physiology, leading to new perspective in different therapeutic fields.

Benatti P, Peluso G, Nicolai R, Calvani M
J Am Coll Nutr Aug 2004
PMID: 15310732 | Free Full Text

This article reviewed, among many others, the study from EPA + GLA Increases Bone Density in Elderly Women:

In a single-blind, randomized study, Kruger et al. [174] tested the interactions between calcium and DGLA + EPA in osteoporotic or osteopenic women. All of the women were living in the same institution for the elderly and fed the same low-calcium, non-vitamin D enriched foods, and had similar amounts of sunlight. Subjects were randomly assigned to DGLA + EPA or coconut oil (placebo group); in addition, all received 600 mg/day of calcium. Markers of bone formation/degradation and bone mineral density (BMD) were measured at baseline, 6, 12 and 18 months. At 18 months, osteocalcin and deoxypyridinoline levels fell significantly in both groups, indicating a decrease in bone turnover, whereas bone specific ALP rose indicating beneficial effects of calcium given to all the patients. Lumbar and femoral BMD, in contrast, showed different results in the two groups. Over the first 18 months, lumbar spine density remained the same in the treatment group, but decreased 3.2% in the placebo group. Femoral bone density increased 1.3% in the treatment group, but decreased 2.1% in the placebo group. During the second period of 18 months with all patients now on active treatment, lumbar spine density increased 3.1% in patients who remained on active treatment, and 2.3% in patients who switched from placebo to active treatment; femoral BMD in the latter group showed an increase of 4.7%.


Fish Oil Reduces Bone Resorption in Postmenopausal Women Taking Aromatase Inhibitors


High-dose eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid supplementation reduces bone resorption in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitors: a pilot study.

Postmenopausal breast cancer survivors are living longer; however, a common class of drugs, aromatase inhibitors (AI), depletes estrogen levels, promotes bone loss, and heightens fracture risk. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may offset AI effects to bone because of the known effects on cellular processes of bone turnover. Therefore, we hypothesized that 4 g of EPA and DHA daily for 3 mo would decrease bone turnover in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors on AI therapy in a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled pilot study that included 38 women. At baseline and 3 mo, serum fatty acids, bone turnover, and inflammatory markers were analyzed. Serum EPA and DHA, total and long-chain (LC) omega (n)-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) increased, whereas arachidonic acid, total and LC n-6 PUFA, and the LC n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio decreased compared to placebo (all P < .05). Bone resorption was inhibited in the fish oil responders compared to placebo (P < .05). Inflammatory markers were not altered. This short-term, high-dose fish oil supplementation study’s findings demonstrate that fish oil can reduce bone resorption; however, longer-term studies are needed to assess bone density preservation and to explore mechanistic pathways in this population at high risk for bone loss.

Hutchins-Wiese HL, Picho K, Watkins BA, Li Y…
Nutr Cancer 2014
PMID: 24274259

Fish Oil Benefits Bone in Salt-Loaded Rats


Benefits of omega-3 fatty acid against bone changes in salt-loaded rats: possible role of kidney.

There is evidence that dietary fats are important components contributing in bone health and that bone mineral density is inversely related to sodium intake. Salt loading is also known to impose negative effects on renal function. The present study aimed to determine the effect of the polyunsaturated fatty acid omega-3 on bone changes imposed by salt loading, highlighting the role of kidney as a potential mechanism involved in this effect. Male Wistar rats were divided into three groups: control group, salt-loaded group consuming 2% NaCl solution as drinking water for 8 weeks, and omega-3-treated salt-loaded group receiving 1 g/kg/day omega-3 by gavage with consumption of 2% NaCl solution for 8 weeks. Systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and heart rate (HR) were recorded. Plasma levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, inorganic phosphorus (Pi), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), creatinine, urea, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D3], and transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) were measured. The right tibia and kidney were removed for histologic examination and renal immunohistochemical analysis for endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) was performed. The results revealed that omega-3 reduced SBP, DBP, and MAP and plasma levels of sodium, potassium, Pi, creatinine, urea, and TGF-β1, but increased plasma levels of calcium, ALP, and 1,25(OH)2D3 as well as renal eNOS. Omega-3 increased cortical and trabecular bone thickness, decreased osteoclast number, and increased newly formed osteoid bone. Renal morphology was found preserved. In conclusion, omega-3 prevents the disturbed bone status imposed by salt loading. This osteoprotective effect is possibly mediated by attenuation of alterations in Ca(2+), Pi, and ALP, and improvement of renal function and arterial blood pressure.

Ahmed MA, Abd El Samad AA
Physiol Rep Oct 2013
PMID: 24303178 | Free Full Text

The acquisition and maintenance of bone mass and strength are influenced by environmental factors, including physical activity and nutrition (Massey and Whiting 1996). Nutrition is important to bone health, and a number of minerals and vitamins have been identified as playing a potential role in the prevention of bone diseases, particularly osteoporosis (Massey and Whiting 1996). Evidence indicates that dietary fats can influence bone health (Tartibian et al. 2010), in particular the omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), as they have been shown to inhibit osteoclast activity and enhance osteoblast activity (Watkins et al. 2003). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) supplementation was found to increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women (Terano 2001). Beneficial effects of n-3 PUFAs on markers of bone resorption and formation in animal (Shen et al. 2006) and human (Griel et al. 2007) studies have, also, been observed.

On the other hand, a number of studies suggested a detrimental effect of dietary salt on bone. Devine et al. (1995) showed that change in bone mineral density was inversely related to sodium intake and that both dietary calcium and urinary sodium excretion were significant determinants of the change in bone mass. High-sodium diet was found to increase urinary calcium excretion and cause loss of bone calcium (Chan and Swaminathan 1998), while reducing sodium intake complemented the beneficial skeletal effects of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (Lin et al. 2003). Furthermore, an epidemiological study of men and women has shown that salt intake is associated with markers of bone resorption and appears likely to be a risk factor for osteoporosis (Jones et al. 1997). Similar effect of sodium loading has been demonstrated in animal model (Gold and Gouldin 1995).