After menopause, the hormone estrogen decreases, leading to bone loss. This results in a large number of post-menopausal women who end up with osteoporosis, a condition that involves a deterioration of bone. Maintaining bone mineral density (the denser the bone, the healthier they are) into old age therefore becomes an important part of healthy aging.

In a recent study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers analyzed the effects of omega-3 fish oil with or without exercise on bone mineral density in 79 post-menopausal women. The women were assigned to one of four groups: omega-3 supplement only (fish oil containing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA), exercise only (walking or jogging on a treadmill for 30 minutes daily, 3–4 days weekly, at 45–55 percent maximum heart rate), omega-3 supplement plus exercise, or a control group that took no supplement and did not exercise.

After 24 weeks, the omega-3 plus exercise group showed an increase in bone mineral density of the lower back and the femur bone, as well as a decrease in inflammatory compounds in the blood when compared to all the other groups. The researchers stated, “These findings clearly show that the combination of [omega-3] supplementation with aerobic exercise provides numerous benefits on bone density and inflammation over exercise alone or supplementation alone.”

Obtaining optimal amounts of omega-3 seems to inhibit bone resorption (breakdown) and promote bone formation, both critical to the development and maintenance of strong bones. Omega-3 fish oil and exercise make a great team as they promote bone health in this way. If you’re not getting one or the other (or both), consider adding them to your bone health support regimen.