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Flaxseed to maintain bone health during aging: 
what do the human studies tell us?

corresponding

SANDRA M. SACCO*, WENDY E. WARD
*Corresponding author
Centre for Bone and Muscle Health, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, L2S 3A1, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Abstract

Flaxseed consumption is associated with health benefits, mainly due to its alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and lignan content. While there is no direct evidence that whole ground flaxseed modulates bone metabolism, epidemiological studies suggest that higher intakes of ALA, may support bone health in aging men and women. Further investigation is needed to determine whether and how flaxseed and its components affect skeletal health during aging, and if baseline bone health modulates the response. It is also important to consider that flaxseed is a rich source of many healthful components – ALA, lignans, fibre, protein, micronutrients – that support overall health and have a role in prevention of other chronic diseases.


INTRODUCTION

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to an increased risk of fragility fractures (1). Once a fragility fracture occurs, quality of life often declines substantively due to chronic pain and a loss of independence. The once simplest of tasks may no longer be possible, i.e. personal care including dressing and bathing; preparing meals; holding or lifting a small child (1). In addition to its large personal toll, osteoporosis places a substantial burden on the economy. More than 200 million people worldwide are affected with osteoporosis and in developed countries, the lifetime risk for sustaining a fracture is similar to that for coronary heart disease (2). Among Canadians