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Fish Oil Could Reduce Bone Loss for Astronauts in Space

by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 19, 2010 2:21 AM PDT

A group of nutrients found in fish oil, known as omega-3 fatty acids, may help mitigate bone breakdown that occurs during spaceflight and in those who suffer from osteoporosis, a new study suggests. As NASA sets its sights on long-duration missions to Mars and an asteroid, scientists are working hard to understand and cope with medical issues, such as bone loss, that accompany and are likely exacerbated by lengthier space travel. The NASA-sponsored study built upon decades of research that has examined ways to halt bone density loss in astronauts. The study's findings could have significant implications for space travellers, but also for those who are susceptible to bone loss here on Earth. The space agency has studied bone loss because it is one of the main effects of exposure to weightlessness in space

One of the limiting factors of extended human space flight is the deterioration of bone in low or zero gravity.

The research could benefit osteoporosis sufferers. The research looks promising to me.

Would they be able to take fish with them? After all, fish live in the water which mimics weightlessness in many ways, so perhaps the fish wouldn't be distressed by the conditions of living in that environment.


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I decided to check out...
by J. Vega / May 19, 2010 4:42 AM PDT

The Story said "Scientists documented that adding EPA inhibited the activation of factors that lead to bone breakdown."
So I decided to check out info on EPA. I started at WebMD and found:
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is a fatty acid found in the flesh of coldwater fish, including mackerel, herring, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod liver, whale blubber, or seal blubber.
EPA is usually administered with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) as fish oil. A wide range of doses have been used. A typical dose is 5 grams of fish oil containing 169-563 mg of EPA and 72-312 mg of DHA.
When used in amounts greater than 3 grams per day, EPA is POSSIBLY UNSAFE, and can thin the blood and increase the risk for bleeding.

Next, I needed an estimate for the time a mission to Mars would take, and at another site found:
Contrary to the 'point and shoot' idea, an actual trip to mars looks very round a bout as the figure above shows for a typical 'minimum cost' trajectory. This, by the way, is called a Hohman Transfer Orbit, and is the mainstay of interplanetary space travel. It depends on the details of the orbit you take between the Earth and Mars. The typical time during Mars's closest approach to the Earth every 1.6 years is about 260 days. Again, the details depend on the rocket velocity and the closeness of the planets, but 260 days is the number I hear most often give or take 10 days. Some high-speed transfer orbits could make the trip in as little as 130 days.

Now we have some numbers with which to work. Let's use the 5 gram typical daily dose and a trip length of 260 days.
1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams, so there would be 5.67 daily doses in an oz.
So, running those numbers through my calculator would seem to say that a 260 day Mars mission would take approx. 46.oz per astronaut for the mission. Of course, that is for supplement pills, EPA from food sources would add to the intake. But just for fun, I ran number estimates for EPA in just supplement form to get a rough idea of a mission weight requirement. It gave me something to do, and kept me off the streets (grin).

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That "point and shoot" made me smile
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / May 19, 2010 5:52 AM PDT

And I remembered "Things to Come", the 1936 film from a story by H G Wells.

Point a giant cannon at the moon, add astronauts, and fire. Happy

Well, not that I remembered the film personally from that time I hasten to add. I saw the repeats on TV.


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Omega 3 is very commonly used...
by EdHannigan / May 19, 2010 6:11 AM PDT

by many people (including me) for health reasons. The only drawback to the supplements is that they have a fishy taste. And people who are allergic to seafood can't take it, but you can also get Omega 3 from walnuts and flax seed.

If we ever colonize Mars or other planets I am sure breeding fish would be part of that.

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Fish Oil Nutritional Supplement
by healthboan / May 23, 2014 3:34 AM PDT

NASA scientists say they've determined polyunsaturated fatty acid fatty acids found in animal oil may facilitate mitigate bone loss that happens throughout the voyage and in pathology. Researchers at the Johnson area Center in Houston aforesaid their findings might have vital implications for each area travelers and folks at risk of bone loss on Earth. The analysis concerned studies victimization cell cultures, ground-based bed rest and information from spacecraft and International space laboratory crew members.

In the cell-based studies, scientists found that adding a selected polyunsaturated fatty acid carboxylic acid to cells would inhibit the activation of things that result in bone breakdown, specifically nuclear issue alphabetic character B. In a study of astronauts arriving from short-duration shuttle missions, researchers found alphabetic character B activation had hyperbolic in blood cells collected at landing, and remained elevated for 2 weeks.

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