Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weak and are more prone to fractures. It is also called as the â€˜silent diseaseâ€™ as bone is lost with no signs. Such fractures are common in the hip, spine and wrist. Osteoporosis can strike at any age but is most common in older women.
An expanding body of evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial to bone health. They may help increase calcium levels in the body, deposit calcium in the bones and enhance bone strength. Studies have also indicated that individuals who lack essential fatty acids (particularly EPA and gamma-linolenic acid [GLA], an omega-6 fatty acid) are more prone to develop loss of bone than those with adequate levels of these EFAs.
In a study of elderly women with osteoporosis, those who were given EPA and GLA supplements had considerably less bone loss over a period of three years than those who were given a placebo. Many of these women also experienced an increase in bone density during this time. In young healthy men, an 8-year study showed that omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA was positively associated with an increase in bone mineral and, hence, with peak bone mineral density (BMD). The study by Weiss et al has observed a negative association between a higher omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids ratio and bone density at the hip in both sexes.