Vegetarians do not achieve adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids

November 28, 2005

Silica helps build bone in women with osteopenia or osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the condition where bone looses minerals and becomes brittle increasing the risk of fracture and immobility, even death. Osteopenia is an earlier stage of osteoporosis. 80 percent of all individuals with osteoporosis are women.

In this study 114 women with either osteoporosis or osteopenia were split into 4 groups. All 4 groups received Calcium 1,000mg a day and Vitamin D 800 IU a day for one year. One group received placebo in addition to the two supplements while the others received Silicon in addition to the supplements. At the end of one year, those on the Silicon had significantly improved bone mineral density of the femur versus those on placebo. The Silicon was found to improve the uptake of both Calcium and Phosphorus by the bones while decreasing the number of bone destroying cells (osteoclasts) and increasing the number of bone building cells (osteoblasts). The study was just presented at the conference of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research in Nashville.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

Hopefully none of us will encounter an agent as destructive as mustard gas, but it is good for us to note that these particular antioxidants are very lung friendly and that available oral supplement levels have shown protective activity in research.

In this study 104 healthy vegetarians had their levels of EPA and DHA checked and it was found that they were low on these extremely beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. Adequate levels of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (the precursor to Omega-3 fatty acids) were consumed daily by the vegetarians from nuts, seeds, vegetable, and vegetable oil sources. However, the Alpha-Linolenic Acid didn't convert as efficiently as expected into Omega-3 Fatty Acids. At this point one group of the Vegetarians received one DHA capsule daily while the other group received a vegetable oil placebo, both for 8 weeks. At the end of eight weeks those on DHA had a significant increase in their EPA and DHA levels with 69% of the Vegetarians supplemented with DHA achieving adequate Omega-3 fatty acid levels while those on placebo were still deficient. Omega-3 fatty acid precursors found in vegetarian sources are not adequate for maintaining blood EPA-DHA levels. The study is published in the August issue of the journal Lipids.