Associations of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids with bone mineral density and bone turnover in postmenopausal women

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Purpose: The immunomodulatory properties of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are reported to reduce bone loss through alteration of bone remodelling and n-3 LCPUFA, therefore, may benefit bone health in post-menopausal women, a vulnerable group at high risk of osteoporosis. Methods: Measures of bone mineral density (BMD) were determined using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) in 300 post-menopausal women. The bone turnover markers osteocalcin (OC), C-terminal telopeptides of type 1 collagen (CTX) and total alkaline phosphatase were quantified in serum along with urinary creatinine corrected deoxypyridinoline (DPD/Cr) and CTX/Cr and the CTX:OC ratio calculated. Total serum n-6 PUFA (LA + AA) and n − 3 LCPUFA (ALA + EPA + DPA + DHA) were measured and the n − 6:n − 3 ratio was calculated. Results: Mean (SD) age and body mass index (BMI) were 61 (6.4) years and 27.4 (4.8) kg/m 2, respectively with participants being 12.6 (7.6) years post-menopause. Multiple regression analysis identified no association between n-3 LCPUFA and any of the measures of T-score or BMD albeit a significant positive association between total n − 3 LCPUFA and femur BMD (β = 0.287; p = 0.043) was observed within those women with a low n − 6:n − 3 ratio. There was a significant inverse association between ALA and urinary DPD/Cr (β = − 0.141; p = 0.016). Conclusion: A favourable low n − 6:n − 3 ratio was associated with higher femur BMD and a higher n − 3 LCPUFA (ALA) was associated with lower bone resorption. These results support a beneficial role for n − 3 LCPUFA in reducing postmenopausal bone resorption and favourably influencing BMD. Trial number & date of registration: ISRCTN63118444, 2nd October 2009, “Retrospectively registered”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 30 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr McSorley, Dr Magee & Dr Pourshahidi reported a grant from BetterYou Ltd, outside the work submitted. Dr Pourshahidi reported a grant from Devenish Nutrition Ltd, outside the work submitted. Professor Armstrong reported Royal Osteoporosis Society (advisory board), National Osteoporosis Guideline Group (advisory board), personal fees from Internis Pharma (speaker), UCB Pharma (advisory board) and stock ownership (GlaxoSmithKline), outside of the work submitted.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Bone mineral density
  • Bone resorption
  • Postmenopausal women


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