"Heart Healthy" Fats May Also Strengthen Bones
Omega-3 fatty acids are fats found in foods like tuna, salmon, other "fatty" fish, walnuts, flax seed, and canola oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are often described as "heart-healthy fats." Among other things, these important fats can reduce inflammation, which plays a role in heart disease and other health problems.
Some recent research suggests that omega-3s may also keep your bones stronger and healthier, and lower your risk of osteoporosis, or "thinning bones." The researchers think that inflammation may be important in osteoporosis as well as heart disease. Osteoporosis is more common as you age and also increases the risk of bone fractures, disability, frailty, and death.
New Research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
The researchers wanted to get a better sense of the role omega-3s might play in keeping bones stronger and lowering risks of osteoporosis. They studied nearly 250 older men and women. All were at least 60 years old and either lived in the community or in assisted living facilities. None were seriously ill. Among other things, the adults in the study answered questions about their diets and how much omega-3s they consumed. They also underwent tests that measured how dense, or strong, their bones were.
The researchers found that the adults who consumed more omega-3s had bones that were denser than adults who consumed less omega-3s
The authors believe that more research should be done on this subject.
What Should I Do?
Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce your risk of osteoporosis and fractures. There are ways you can improve the strength of your bones. It may turn out that omega-3s will be an important way to keep your bones healthy. Talk to your doctor about your diet. Ask if there are ways to eat healthier, and ask about omega-3s.
The summary above is from the full report titled, "Self-reported Dietary Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Association with Bone and Lower Extremity Function." It is in the October 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Volume 57, Issue 11). It is authored by James H. Rousseau, Alison Kleppinger, and Anne M. Kenny, MD.