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Nutrient - Flax seed oil reduces risk of osteoporosis

By Holly Taylor BSc (Hons) DipCNM MBANT

Osteoporosis is the term used to describe a condition in which bones become porous and brittle, through the progressive loss of minerals, mass and density. It can lead to loss of height, increased risk of fracture and bone deformities. Osteoporosis is now a widespread condition, affecting an estimated 75 million people in Europe, the US and Japan. Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, due to the sudden drop in bone protective hormones they experience after the menopause. In addition, diabetes can also increase the risk of osteoporosis by interfering with osteoblast activity – these are the cells the help to maintain bone strength.

According to a new study published, in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, flax seed oil may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal and diabetic women.

The results of research by a team, based at the National Research Centre in Cairo, suggest that flax seed oil has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density and reduces markers associated with osteoporosis.

The researchers studied the effects dietary supplements of flax seed oil had on key indicators of bone health during diabetes and menopause. They measured blood levels of IGF-1 (a hormone) and osteocalcin (a calcium-binding protein), which are both involved in bone formation, as well as measuring urinary levels of deoxypyridinoline – an indicator of bone breakdown.

Their results show that dietary supplementation with flax seed oil can help to reduce the level of deoxypyridinoline in the urine and normalise bone density. The researchers suggest that the presence of omega 3 fatty acids in flax seed oil may play a role in protecting the processes involved in bone formation and mineralisation and, therefore, help to offset the negative effects the menopause and diabetes can have on bone health.  

Article References

Source: M. Elwassef et al. International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health. [Epub ahead of print]

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