"Supplemented with omega-3 alpha linolenic acid"

Omega-3 can help laying hens avoid bone damage
Published on 28 January 2013, 06:47

Most of us are aware of the potential health benefits of omega-3 found
in fish oil and flax seed. Now researchers have found that omega-3
could help laying hens avoid bone damage, which affects millions of
hens each year, and the research may also help human patients
suffering from osteoporosis.

The three-year research project, led by Dr John Tarlton and colleagues
from the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences,
investigated the benefits of omega-3 supplemented diets in laying
hens. They looked at the full biochemical and cellular mechanisms
through which omega-3 is able to improve bone health. This study,
published in the journal BONE, could also have potential benefits for
human osteoporosis, a disease that affects almost three million people
in the UK.

Free range hens housed in full scale commercial systems were provided
diets supplemented with omega-3 alpha linolenic acid, and the skeletal
benefits were investigated by comparison to standard diets rich in
omega-6 linoleic acid.

The research group found a 40 to 60 per cent reduction in keel bone
breakage rate and a corresponding reduction in breakage severity in
the omega-3 supplemented hens, compared with standard diets. There was
also significantly greater bone mineral density, alongside
improvements in bone structure.

The mechanical properties of the omega-3 supplemented hens were also
improved, with strength, toughness and stiffness demonstrating
substantial increases. Osteoblast and osteoclast markers both showed
increases with the omega-3 diets, indicating enhanced bone turnover.
This was corroborated by the significantly lower levels of the mature
collagen crosslinks, with a corresponding shift in the mature/immature
crosslink ratio.

Dr John Tarlton, Senior Research Fellow in Veterinary Pathology and
Infection and Immunity, said: “Bone fragility due to osteoporotic
changes in laying hens is a major economic and welfare problem, with
our recent estimates of breakage rates indicating up to 95 per cent of
free range hens suffer breaks during lay in some housing systems.”

Dr Michael Toscano, Research Associate working with Dr Tarlton, added:
“The improved skeletal health in laying hens could correspond to as
many as 68 million fewer hens suffering keel fractures in the EU each
year. Also, our research findings on the mechanisms of improved bone
strength may help human patients suffering from osteoporosis.”

Dr Tarlton explained: “The omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty
acids (PUFAs) are the immediate precursors to a number of important
mediators of immunity, inflammation and bone function, with products
of omega-6 generally thought to promote inflammation and favour bone
resorption.”

Western diets generally provide a ten to 20-fold deficit in omega-3
PUFAs compared with omega-6, and this is thought to have contributed
to the marked rise in incidence of many disorders of modern human
societies, such as heart disease, colitis and perhaps osteoporosis.
Many of our food production animals, fed on grains rich in omega-6,
are also exposed to a dietary deficit in omega-3, with perhaps similar
health consequences.

The research study was funded by the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences
Research Council (BBSRC), and industrial partner, Noble Foods, the
UK’s leading egg marketing company.

Paper: Reduced bone breakage and increased bone strength in free range
laying hens fed omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplemented diets,
John F Tarlton, Lindsay J Wilkins, Michael J Toscano, Nick C Avery,
Lynda Knott, BONE, Volume 52, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 578-586.

Contact: Joanne Fryer - Press Officer, Tel: +44 (0)117 33 17276,
Email: [email protected]

Categories: Omega-3 Fish oil Flax seed Bones Bone damage Osteoporosis
omega-3 supplemented diet Bone Health Omega-3 alpha linolenic acid
Omega-6 linoleic acid


Source: University of Bristol


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