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.
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The authors’ responsibilities were as follows: KMM, SJW, and JEK were responsible for the overall design and execution of the study; KMM and SJW for the statistical analysis and management of the data. All authors were involved in the study design, analysis of the data, or writing of the manuscript. None of the authors have a conflict of interest. This work was funded by the Nutrition Pilot Grant Program of the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation. Support for data management and analysis was provided by the Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. General Clinical Research Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center (NIH/NCRR M01-R006192).
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Mangano, K.M., Kerstetter, J.E., Kenny, A.M. et al. 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. Osteoporos Int 25, 1033–1041 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-013-2501-8
- Bone mineral density
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids