Science Corner: Omega-3’s and Exercise Boost Bone Health

A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism this year (reference below) has shown omega-3’s in combination with moderate exercise to build bone density in older women. This expands the overall benefits of omega-3’s, which were already quite broad.

The combination of omega-3’s and exercise shown to increase bone density and reduce markers of inflammation

In this study 1000mg of omega-3 was supplemented daily along with aerobic exercise. This combination was associated with up to a 19% increase in bone mineral density (BMD). The researchers commented that the combination was found to be superior to either supplementation or exercise alone.

In addition, there was a reduction in the pro-inflammatory markers IL 6 (interleukin-6), and TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha).

Of course these findings could have a great bearing on the millions of women who suffer from osteoporosis, plus the millions that are at risk, which lead to debilitating fractures due to low bone mass.

Study Details

  • 79 post-menopausal women
  • Four groups; control, one on just the exercise plan, one just the supplements, and one on the combination of exercise and supplements
  • Exercise plan consisted of walking/and or jogging 3x per week up to 65% of maximum heart rate
  • Protocol was followed for 24 weeks.

The link between inflammation and bone health

The researches drew the correlation between the decrease of pro-inflammatory compounds and the increases in BMD.  When the inflammatory compounds are reduced it creates a bone turnover environment that is favorable, so that more bone increase density (read: more osteoblast activity, and less osteoclast activity).

Understanding this mechanism, one could see how omega-3’s would have benefit as they increase eicosonoid activity, which helps to keep inflammatory compounds in check. This could be a nice nutritional approach to help women with their bone health as they age.

Source: Nutrition & Metabolism

2011: 8:71 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-8-71

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