Cardiovascular and Renal Calcification and Bone: A comparison of the effect of Dietary Fatty Acids

Rachel Nicoll, John McLaren Howard, Michael Henein


Cardiovascular (CV) and renal calcification is regularly found with osteoporosis and both are conditions of chronic
inflammation and oxidative stress. Intake of dietary fatty acids is known to impact on the incidence of CV disease and bone
loss but few studies have specifically looked at their impact on CV or renal calcification. This review found that although a
very high total fat intake is likely to prove detrimental to both tissues and bone, particularly with low calcium intake, human
studies often show mixed results, possibly because fatty acid intake shows a U-shaped dose/response curve, contrary to the
expected linear relationship. Nevertheless, intake of fish and fish oil are generally found to protect against ectopic calcification
and bone loss, with a low omega 6 to omega 3 ratio (preferably <5:1) proving critical. Fish intake of 3-4 servings a week was
believed to be optimal. In arteries, the relationship between fish oil intake and other markers of sub-clinical atherosclerosis,
such as intima-medial thickness, may be stronger than their relationship with arterial calcification. Any association with arterial
calcification often lost significance after adjustment for CV risk factors, suggesting that fish oil may act principally by lowering
risk factors and calling into question whether CV calcification is a condition of dyslipidaemia.

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