British Journal of Nutrition

Short Communication

Supplementation with a low–moderate dose of n-3 long-chain PUFA has no short-term effect on bone resorption in human adults

K. M. Appletona1 c1, W. D. Frasera2, P. J. Rogersa3, A. R. Nessa4 and J. H. Tobiasa5

a1 School of Psychology, Queen's University, Belfast, 18-30 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 5BP, UK

a2 Unit of Clinical Chemistry, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Liverpool, Daulby Street, Liverpool L69 3GA, UK

a3 Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 12a Priory Road, Bristol BS8 1TU, UK

a4 Department of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol, Lower Maudlin Street, Bristol BS1 2LY, UK

a5 Academic Rheumatology, University of Bristol, Avon Orthopaedic Centre, Southmead Hospital, Bristol BS10 5NB, UK


Previous research suggests that n-3 PUFA may play a role in bone health. The present analysis aimed to investigate the impact of n-3 PUFA supplementation on bone resorption in adult men and women. Serum samples from 113 mild–moderately depressed individuals (twenty-six males and eighty-seven females, aged 18–67 years) randomised to receive 1·48 g EPA+DHA/d (n 53) or placebo (n 60) for 12 weeks as part of a large recent randomised controlled trial were assayed for n-3 PUFA status and a bone resorption marker, C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type 1 collagen (β-CTX). Regression analyses revealed that n-3 PUFA status following supplementation was associated with randomisation (placebo/n-3 PUFA) (B = 3·25, 95 % CI 2·60, 3·91, P < 0·01). However, β-CTX status following supplementation was not associated with randomisation (B = − 0·01, 95 % CI − 0·03, 0·04). Change in β-CTX status was also not associated with change in n-3 PUFA status (B = − 0·002, 95 % CI − 0·01, 0·01). These findings provide no evidence for an association between n-3 PUFA supplementation (1·48 g EPA+DHA/d) for 12 weeks and bone resorption in humans assessed by β-CTX, and suggest that n-3 PUFA supplementation may be unlikely to be of benefit in preventing bone loss.

(Received April 07 2010)

(Revised October 26 2010)

(Accepted October 27 2010)

(Online publication December 06 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr K. M. Appleton, fax +44 28 9097 5486, email


Abbreviations: β-CTX, C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type 1 collagen; BMD, bone mineral density; DASS, Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale