You’ve heard of omega-3s for brain health and heart health, but have you heard about omega-3s for bone health? Given the myriad benefits these crucial anti-inflammatory nutrients have on our health, it was only natural to explore whether these benefits extend to bone. And indeed, they do. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce fracture risk and decrease bone loss, making them another key nutrient to support bone health.
Omega-3s and Fracture Risk
Numerous studies assert that omega-3s directly influence fracture risk in general and risk of hip fracture in particular.
A 2015 study (1) found that men who had the highest levels of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were significantly less likely to experience a hip fracture over a 20-year period than those with lower levels.
What’s more, a 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies showed that people with a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly lower risk of hip fractures compared to those with a lower intake. This suggests that consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent hip fractures.
But it’s not just hip fractures omega-3s may help protect against.
A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids decreased the risk of any type of fracture by nearly 4%. That’s a significant finding, given that fractures are a major cause of disability in older adults.
Omega-3s and Bone Loss
Not only do omega-3s seem to help reduce the risk of fractures, but they may also help slow bone loss. A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (4) found that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids increased Bone Mineral Density (BMD) at the total hip by an average 0.012 grams per square centimeter compared to placebo. BMD is a measure of how much mineral is packed into bones and is used as an indicator of bone strength.
The higher the BMD, the stronger the bones. So, this finding suggests that getting enough omega 3 fatty acids may help keep bones strong as we age.
How Much Omega 3 Do You Need for Bone Health?
The amount of omega 3 fatty acids you need for bone health has not been established through research. However, most experts agree that 250–500 mg per day is a good place to start if you are looking to improve your overall health, including bone health. If you don’t eat fish often or are concerned about mercury exposure, opt for an EPA and DHA supplement derived from marine microalgae instead. As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements to ensure they are right for you.
· Numerous studies suggest that omega 3 fatty acids play a role in reducing fracture risk and bone loss.
· The American Heart Association recommends 250–500 mg per day of omega 3 fatty acids for overall health, including heart health—a dose range that likely applies to bone health as well.
· If you don’t eat fish often or want to avoid mercury exposure, look for an EPA and DHA supplement derived from marine microalgae instead.
Omega 3 fatty acids offer many benefits for our overall health—including for our bones! If you are looking to improve your bone health or reduce your risk of fractures, aim for 250–500 mg per day of these crucial anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Fish is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, but if you don’t eat fish often or want to avoid mercury exposure, look for an EPA and DHA supplement derived from marine microalgae instead.”