Getting enough fish oil daily in midlife is associated with lower fracture risk for women later in life, according to a major study from the University of Iceland. And when news about a significant decrease in fracture risk comes from researchers in a country where fracture risk is high, I certainly pay attention.
In the Icelandic study, women who got high daily amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish-oil consumption during midlife had a 25% lower risk of fracture compared to those who didn’t. The risk of fracture for men who consumed fish oil daily was even less – up to 45% less than those men who had lower levels. For men, getting optimal amounts of fish oil later in life was associated with lower fracture risk.
Are you getting enough omega-3s in your diet?
Closer to home, the average American only gets about 200 mg per day of the most important omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day from their diet. The American Heart Association recommends a much higher intake of between 1000–3000 mg.
Good omega-3 food sources
Omega-3s are found in a wide range of foods, including many fish sources. But vegetarians and vegans can also get omega-3s from food, with research showing a diet high in omega-3s from plant sources may be just as effective as those from fish sources. Here are my favorite choices for omega-3 rich foods:
• Seafood (sources both high in omega-3’s and low in environmental contaminants include anchovies, herring, mackerel, oysters, wild salmon, and sardines)
• Fresh ground flaxseed
• Flaxseed oil
• Hempseed oil
• Canola oil
• Pumpkin seeds
• Sesame seeds
As it sometimes can be difficult to get the full amount of omega-3s from diet alone, many women choose a daily high-quality omega-3 supplement. I recommend Omega-3s that are molecularly distilled to help you get all of the key benefits for your bones, joints, immune system, heart, skin and more.
Orchard TS. 2013. The association of red blood cell n-3 and n-6 fatty acids with bone mineral density and hip fracture risk in the women’s health initiative. J Bone Miner Res. 2013; doi:10.1002/jbmr.1772.
Harris, TB. 2015 May; Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and fish-oil consumption in relation to osteoporotic fracture risk in older adults: the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility Study. Am J Clin Nutr 101(5):947-55. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.087502. Epub 2015 Mar 18. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25787995 accessed March 23, 2016)
I’m Dr. Susan Brown. I am a nutritionist, medical anthropologist, writer, and speaker. Get my free weekly newsletter here.