Hip Fractures are one of the most common causes of bone injury in elderly people; with an estimated 70-75,000 occurring each year in the UK.
The Ohio State University investigated the effect of eating large amounts of omega-3 in reducing the risk of attaining a hip fracture. 648 postmenopausal women, half of whom had a hip fracture, were assessed over 15 years. Hip fracture records were analysed from the Women’s Health Initiative and red blood cell samples were taken. Results suggested that those who consumed higher concentrations of omega – 3 fatty acids tented to have a lower risk of hip fractures than those who consumed low concentrations.
The research was published in the ‘Journal of Bone and Minerals Research’. The study revealed alpha-linolenic acid (found in flaxseed oil and nuts) was important as was eicosapentaenoic acid (found in oily fish). On the other hand docosahexaenoic acid (also found in oily fish) did not seem to have a significant effect on hip fractures. Professor Rebecca Jackson senior author of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism explains that “Inflammation is associated with an increased risk of bone loss and fractures, and omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation.”
Researchers also looked into omega-6 fatty acids, but these were found to have both anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory properties. This meant that as the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids increased, so did the risk for hip fracture. However both polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential to our body, but since the body does not naturally produce them, they must be consumed via our diet.