There is already a long list of health benefits from fish oil, ranging from the treatment of arthritis to weight loss and from depression to heart disease.  Now, a new study has concluded that greater consumption of fish or fish oil appears to result in greater bone mineral density (BMD) compared to the BMD of those who consume less or no fish or fish oil, and therefore, may help protect against the loss of bone density with age.

Also, results suggested a stronger benefit from these fish oils – the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – with higher consumption of an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid known as arachidonic acid (AA). (Since little or no AA is found in plant foods, the body must get this essential oil from animal sources – meat, eggs or dairy – or by converting the essential oil linoleic acid, LA, into AA; LA itself is found in many oils.) A high intake of fish was defined as three or more fish servings a week.

In a study (Framingham Osteoporosis Study) involving 623 adults, high intakes of fish (at least 3 servings/wk) were found to be associated with improved bone health. Specifically, consumption of dark fish and tuna was associated with maintenance of femoral neck BMD in men and consumption of dark fish was associated with femoral neck BMD in women. In addition, subjects with the highest intakes of arachidonic acid (AA) were found to have a higher mean baseline femoral neck BMD than those with the lowest intakes. Among men with the lowest EPA+DHA intakes, those with the highest AA intakes lost more FN-BMD than those with the lowest intakes of AA. Intake of linoleic acid was found to be associated with bone loss in women. These results suggest that, “Fish consumption may protect against bone loss. The protective effects of a high AA intake may be dependent on the amount of EPA+DHA intake.”


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