Fish is a rich source
of omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty acids are known to have a significant role in the
vulnerability of having fractures of hip or pelvic bone.
Prof. Rebecca Jackson
and her colleagues conducted a study to assess the relationship between omega-3
fatty acids and fractures of hips. Her research was published in the Journal of
Bone and Mineral Research.
They examined the red
blood corpuscles of females with and without past history of fractured hip and
found that high levels of omega-3 fatty
acids of both plant and animal origin were associated with decreased risk of
having fractured pelvis
While comparing the
effect of omega-3 fatty acids with those of omega-6 fatty acids, the experts
noticed that the risk of hip fracture
increased with the rising ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids
however were unclear about the exact mechanism responsible for this strange
association, they figured that inflammation may account for bone resorption,
the process of breaking down of bone due to release of osteoclasts.
Prof. Rebecca Jackson,
the study's senior author and a professor of endocrinology, diabetes and
metabolism at The Ohio State University mentioned, "Inflammation is
associated with an increased risk of bone loss and fractures, and omega-3 fatty
acids are believed to reduce inflammation. So we asked if we would see
fractures decrease in response to omega-3 intake."
She added, "One
thing that was critically important was that we didn't use self-report of food
intake, because there can be errors with that. We looked directly at the
exposure of the bone cell to the fatty acids, which is at the red blood cell
"Red blood cell
levels also give an indication of long-term exposure to these fatty acids,
which we took into account in looking for a preventive effect."
Fractured hips are the
most frequent osteoporosis-related fractures with reported mortality rates up
to 20 to 24 percent in the first year after a hip fracture according to the
International Osteoporosis Foundation data.
Since the study did
not assess the cause and effects, the researchers could not suggest whether
intake of omega-3 as supplements could prevent fractures in postmenopausal
Prof. Tonya Orchard,
the assistant professor of human nutrition at Ohio State and the first author
of the study said, "We don't yet know whether omega-3 supplementation
would affect results for bone health or other outcomes."
Tonya added, "Though
it's premature to make a nutrition recommendation based on this work, I do
think this study adds a little more strength to current recommendations to
include more omega-3s in the diet in the form of fish, and suggests that plant
sources of omega-3 may be just as important for preventing hip fractures in
Omega-3 and omega-6
fatty acids are essential fatty acids as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids
which implies that they are needed for biological processes but must be
consumed because the human body does not produce them on its own.
Omega-6 fatty acids
have both anti- and pro-inflammatory effects while; omega-3 fatty acids have
enrolled volunteers from 1993 to 1998 and tracked them for fifteen years. Their
blood samples and hip fracture records were obtained from the Women's Health
Initiative (WHI), a large national prospective study of postmenopausal women.
The analysis revealed
that high amount of omega-3 fatty acids and two other specific kinds of
omega-3s were concerned with lower tendency of hip fractures.
Females having high
ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids have twice the threat of hip fracture
in comparison to females with the lowest ratios.
According to experts
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are the main omega-3
fatty acids associated with reducing the risk of fractured hip.
is derived from flaxseed oil and some nuts while eicosapentaenoic acid is found
in abundance in fatty fish. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) does not have a major
role in hip of fractures.
Prof. Tonya Orchard,
mentioned, "But all three omega-3s were in the protective direction."
This work was
financially aided by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
The WHI was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2013.