November 2013
Naroa Kajarabille, Javier Díaz-Castro, Silvia Hijano, Magdalena López-Frías, Inmaculada López-Aliaga, and Julio J. Ochoa



Background. Evidence has shown that long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), especially the ω-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are beneficial for bone health and turnover.

Objectives. This review summarizes findings from both in vivo and in vitro studies and the effects of LC PUFA on bone metabolism, as well as the relationship with the oxidative stress, the inflammatory process, and obesity.

Results. Some studies in humans indicate that LCPUFA can increase bone formation, affect peak bone mass in adolescents, and reduce bone loss. However, the cellular mechanisms of action of the LCPUFA are complex and involve modulation of fatty acid metabolites such as prostaglandins, resolvins and protectins, several signaling pathways, cytokines, and growth factors, although in certain aspects there is still some controversy. LCPUFA affect receptor activator of nuclear factor κ β (RANK), a receptor found on the osteoclast, causing bone resorption, which controls osteoclast formation.

Conclusions. Since fatty acids are an endogenous source of reactive oxygen species, free radicals alter the process of bone turnover; however, although there are clinical evidences linking bone metabolism and dietary lipids, more clinical trials are necessary to prove whether ω-3 PUFA supplementation plays a major role in bone health.