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Originally published December 1 2009

Flaxseed oil could reduce the risk of osteoporosis

by Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor

(NaturalNews) After menopause, women are at increased risk for the bone-weakening condition known as osteoporosis. And women who are diabetic have an even greater chance of developing the disorder. But now comes research from Egyptian scientists that suggests flaxseed oil could be a natural way to protect bone health.

The new study, recently published in the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, concludes that flaxseed oil has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density and reduces markers associated with osteoporosis. Bottom line: supplementing the diet with flaxseed oil could markedly reduce the risk of osteoporosis and be of particular benefit to post-menopausal and diabetic women.

Scientist Mer Harvi and colleagues at the National Research Center in Cairo, Egypt, investigated the impact of diabetes on bone health. Then in laboratory studies they evaluated how flaxseed oil added to the diet could delay the onset of osteoporosis.

The researchers worked with a group of 70 female albino rats divided into several sub-groups including (in addition to a group of control animals) diabetic rats, rats with their ovaries removed to simulate the post-menopausal state (dubbed the "ovx" group), and ovx rats who were also diabetic. Some of these rodents received regular diets while others ate food supplemented with flaxseed oil. After two months, the scientists analyzed urine and blood samples taken from the animals to measure for serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and osteocalcin, a calcium-binding protein that is essential for the normal mineralization of bone.

The results showed that these two compounds were particularly low in the diabetic rats, indicating bone loss. However, the concentrations of IGF-1 and osteocalcin were raised to normal levels when flaxseed oil was added to the animals' diet. The researchers also discovered that elevated levels of deoxypyridinoline (a chemical associated with osteoporosis because it is excreted in urine during bone degradation) fell when the rats were given flaxseed oil.

The research team speculates the Omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil may be the key to protecting bone mineralization which appears to be compromised by both diabetes and menopause. "We recommend further investigations using animals and humans to confirm the effect of using dietary flaxseed oil to improve bone health and to prevent osteoporosis," Harvi and his colleagues concluded.

"Impact of feeding flaxseed oil on delaying the development of osteoporosis in ovariectomized diabetic rats", International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health2009, 2, 189-201.

About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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