Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Beneficial For Bone Health? (2021)

Bones aren’t something that often comes to mind when people think about nutrition. In all honesty, most people don’t realize how important bone health truly is. Not only do bones help provide our bodies and muscles with structure, they also serve as a source of protection for our organs. Bones also store important minerals such as calcium and phosphorus.

As you go through life, bone is continuously being broken down and formed. While growing up, you build bone faster than your body breaks it down, which leads to increased bone mass. In your mid 20’s there comes a time when you reach your peak bone mass, meaning from this point on, and after, the rate at which you break down bone will be slightly higher than how fast you can build new bone. If you don’t reach a high enough peak bone mass in your 20’s to 30’s, over time, and especially into older age, you can end up suffering from things like Osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is typically observed in the older population. It occurs when the body loses or doesn't make enough bone, meaning that it results from the body breaking down bone at a faster pace than it can build bone. This loss in bone results in lower bone mass, and therefore your bones become weaker and more prone to breakage (1). Those individuals with more severe cases of osteoporosis may even experience a break or fracture with something as small as a bump or a sneeze, although typically osteoporosis-related fractures primarily occur with a fall (1).

Why is this important?

In 2010, it was estimated that over 53 million older Americans suffered from osteoporosis and low bone mass (2). A cohort study with over 370,000 female Medicare beneficiaries showed that the risk of a second fracture within 1 year following a fracture was 10%, with the risk increasing to 18% and 31% at 2 and 5 years after (3). Some of the risk factors include diet, lack of exercise, tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, as well as sex, age, and body size (4). Today we will be discussing how diet can benefit those with osteoporosis – more specifically how extra virgin Olive Oil can decrease the risk of osteoporosis related fractures.

How Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Help:

Because diet is one factor that can have an impact on bone health and the risk of osteoporosis, we are going to focus on how one element of a healthy diet, extra virgin olive oil, can have an impact on your bone health. A study done in 2018 aimed to investigate the association between olive oil consumption and the risk of fractures related to osteoporosis in the older population (5). The results of the study showed that a higher consumption of extra virgin olive oil in individuals correlated to a lower risk of osteoporosis-related fractures along with Skin Benefits. In fact, the group of participants consuming the highest amount of extra virgin olive oil had a 51% lower risk of fractures (5). This means that consuming more extra virgin olive oil, especially in middle and elderly aged populations, could have a large impact on your risk of osteoporosis-related fractures.

Extra virgin olive oil has not only been shown to decrease your risk of osteoporosis-related fractures, but it also shows more general effects on overall bone health. A randomized study done in 2012 aimed to analyze the effects of a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with nuts, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil, and a low fat control diet has on osteocalcin and other bone formation markers in elderly men (6). The results of this study showed that over the two year period, the Mediterranean diet that was supplemented with olive oil showed an increase in osteocalcin and the bone marker, P1NP concentrations, which the Mediterranean diet with nuts, and the control diet did not show (6). This means that the Mediterranean diet specifically supplemented with olive oil, resulted in increased bone formation markers, which might suggest protective effects on bone health.

The Bottom Line:

Osteoporosis is affecting millions of older Americans. Even worse, many don't know they are suffering from it until it is too late and they have suffered from a broken bone or fracture.

Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to decrease osteoporosis-related fractures, as well suggesting an increase in bone health when consumed in combination with a Mediterranean diet. Increasing your consumption of extra virgin olive oil could Benefit In Regulating Blood Pressure and your bone health.

Written by Isabelle Hammack

Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I incorporate extra virgin olive oil into my diet? 
A: Try using extra virgin olive oil as a substitution to butter when cooking or adding extra virgin olive oil into salads and cold meals.

Q: Why is extra virgin olive oil good for bone health and osteoporosis?
A: Extra virgin olive oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that prevents bone resorption and helps maintain bone mineral density.

Q: How can I maximize the bone health effects of extra virgin olive oil?
A: Try following the Mediterranean diet to see best results of extra virgin olive oil in your diet.