No bones about it: the best things in life are sea

Posted by on May 28, 2010 in bone health, diet | 3 comments

Did you know that eating fish that live in the sea might help boost bone health and density? Although most of the attention on the link between osteoporosis and diet has focused on calcium, milk and soy, a few studies suggest that other nutrients, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3s, may also play a role.

According to novel research published in the journal Osteoporosis International,  a greater intake of sea fish, but not shellfish or freshwater fish, is linked to as much as almost a 7% increase in bone-mineral density and an almost 10% increase in bone mass in general and in the hip areas in particular. On average, the women studied, all of whom were menopausal, were eating about .8 ounces of sea fish a day — about 16% of their total daily protein intake, and about 2 ounces daily of sea fish and shellfish combined. Factors like body weight, smoking, and alcohol did not appear to influence the association between fish from the sea and bone benefits. (Note – the study did not specifically address the exact types of fish that they women were eating other than to say, it wasn’t freshwater or shellfish.)

Interestingly, prior studies have found similar links between higher bone mineral density and a high consumption of seafood among menopausal women. Researchers say that a higher intake of fish versus animal protein or low quality foods may account, at least in part, for the higher bone mass.And while they are unable to offer any reasonable explanation for why sea fish, especially the oily types like salmon or mackerel or tuna benefit bone health while freshwater fish does not, they say that it might be due to the high level of vitamin D , which has long been associated with favorable bone mass. Omega-3 fatty acids are also thought to play important roles.

The take-away on this is to eat more fish from the sea. Clearly, environmental concerns, like overfishing and high level of mercury, may influence your seafood selection, however, Seafood Watch offers some great resources how to make safe and careful choices.  What I love about this information is that it not only serves to encourage healthier eating, which can help keep those pounds away (My friend Danielle Omar wrote a great guest post about sea veggies and weight about a month ago), but also provides another strategy for keeping bones healthy as we age. Yup, the best things in life are sea.


  1. 5-31-2010

    A little known fact is that menopause will decrease bone density so this could be very helpful.

    • 5-31-2010

      Actually, I’ve written quite frequently about the reduction of bone density during menopause. Check the archives!

  2. 6-7-2013

    I was very happy as I discovered this website. I needed to thank you for this excellent information! And I have bookmarked your blog to read. Many thanks!

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