Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce bone loss, a 2010 study showed. When astronauts – who often experience bone loss after periods of weightlessness – consumed omega-3s during short-duration space missions, they experienced less bone loss.
Researchers investigated the effects of omega-3s on bone in various settings that induce or replicate weightlessness-related bone loss: cells in culture, astronauts returning from short-duration shuttle missions, and healthy people who experienced 16 days of ground-based bed rest.
They found that in cultured cells, omega-3s inhibited the activity of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), a signaling molecule that is involved in the pathogenesis of bone loss. When astronauts experienced even short-term weightlessness during space missions, they had elevated NF-κB levels, but those who consumed higher quantities of omega-3s during the missions experienced less bone loss than those who consumed less. Finally, when healthy people who experienced prolonged bed rest were given supplemental omega-3s, they experienced less bone loss than those who did not take omega-3s.
These findings suggest that omega-3s reduce bone loss in settings of weightlessness or bed rest, with relevance for people on earth who are at risk for bone loss. Resistance training helps support bone health, too. Learn more in this clip featuring Dr. Brad Schoenfeld.
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