Document Type



Medicine and Health Sciences



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.


Osteoporos Int. Author manuscript; available in PMC Mar 29, 2014. Published in final edited form as: Osteoporos Int. Mar 2014; 25(3): 1033–1041. doi: 10.1007/s00198-013-2501-8 PMCID: PMC3969769 NIHMSID: NIHMS542270