Bad to da bone, part 2

Posted by on Mar 20, 2009 in bone health | 2 comments

Is there any way to prevent bone loss after menopause? It is possible that eating the proper balance of dietary fats (i.e. omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids) may help.

In a study published a few years ago in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers assessed bone mineral content and bone density in female rats. These measures are used to determine how much bone loss you have in a particular area and the risk for developing osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation provides an excellent summary.

In the study, half the rats had their ovaries removed (leading to a rapid decline in estrogen and subsequent bone loss) and half remained intact. They were then fed diets with different ratios of omega-3s and omega-6s. After 12 weeks, data showed that rats with the lowest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in their diets had significantly less bone loss and a higher bone mineral density, even in the absence of estrogen. This translated to significantly lower bone loss.

Omega-6 fatty acids are most commonly found in foods such as vegetables oils, nuts,  seeds and eggs while omega-3 fatty acids are more commonly found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel),  nuts (walnuts) and certain vegetable oils. Notably,  eating both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids has been shown to lower the risk of heart and possibly other diseases. However, research continues to point to balance.

These particular findings may be due to the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce the production of inflammatory compounds that associated with the breaking down or “resorption” of bones. Estrogen provides a similar protective effect but after its decline, the body becomes more vulnerable.

While researchers caution that the study results cannot be translated to humans, they certainly look promising.

It’s all about balance, right?!


  1. 3-24-2009

    Thanks for the info especially regarding osteoporosis. It seems to happen to many menopausal women and is important to pay atttention to.

    • 3-24-2009

      Thank you Anita, for your comment.I hope to include much more information about osteoporosis in the coming months!

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