Osteoporosis International

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 1033–1041 | Cite as

An investigation of the association between omega 3 FA and bone mineral density among older adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey years 2005–2008

  • K. M. Mangano
  • J. E. Kerstetter
  • A. M. Kenny
  • K. L. Insogna
  • S. J. Walsh
Original Article



The relation of omega 3 fatty acids (n-3 FA) with bone mineral density (BMD) was assessed among adults >60 years; NHANES data (2005–2008). The association of dietary n-3 FA with measures of hip BMD was equivocal, but n-3 FA supplement use was significantly associated with higher spine BMD—a finding that deserves further study.


Associations between polyunsaturated fatty acids and bone mineral density are not well understood.


To evaluate the cross-sectional relation between dietary omega 3 fatty acid intake (specifically docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and octadecatetraenoic) and BMD at the hip and spine among older adults.


Omega 3 FA intake (g/day) was assessed from two 24-h recalls using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, in 2005–2008); and omega 3 FA supplement use (yes/no) via questionnaire. Multivariable regression models were developed to explain variance in femoral neck, total femur, and lumbar spine BMD among 2,125 men and women over 60 years.


Mean age was 70 years. In adjusted models, dietary omega 3 FA were marginally associated with greater femoral neck BMD (p = 0.0505), but not with total femur BMD (p = 0.95) or lumbar spine BMD (p = 0.74). Omega 3 supplement use was significantly positively associated with lumbar spine BMD (p = 0.005) but not with femoral neck or total femur BMD.


Dietary intakes of omega 3 FA were marginally associated with femoral neck BMD; however, omega 3 supplement use was significantly associated with higher lumbar spine BMD in older adults. These results emphasize the need for assessment of total omega 3 intakes (diet and supplements) to provide a greater range of intake and a more accurate picture of the relation between omega 3 FA and BMD.


Bone mineral density NHANES Omega-3 fatty acids Polyunsaturated fatty acids 


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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. M. Mangano
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. E. Kerstetter
    • 3
  • A. M. Kenny
    • 4
  • K. L. Insogna
    • 5
  • S. J. Walsh
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Aging ResearchHebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  4. 4.Center on AgingUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Internal MedicineYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  6. 6.School of NursingUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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