Strong Bones Need Olives, Too

Olive oil and olive leaf compounds are mostly associated with lowering blood pressure and protecting the heart. But they may help keep your bones strong, too.

Postmenopausal women in a year-long clinical study found that a combination of calcium and olive polyphenol supplementation significantly increased osteocalcin (a bone-building protein), helped stabilize bone density, and improved lipid profiles, reducing LDL-cholesterol. Those in the placebo group, by contrast, saw reduced bone density. And their placebo was actually 1000 mg of calcium alone.

Considering bone density and cardiovascular issues are two major threats to women as they get older, this study shows the importance of a more holistic approach: the more nutrients included in a regimen, the better for health overall.


Filip R, Possemiers S, Heyerick A, et al. Twelve-month consumption of a polyphenol extract from olive (Olea europaea) in a double blind, randomized trial increases serum total osteocalcin levels and improves serum lipid profiles in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Jan;19(1):77-86.

OBJECTIVES: Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder characterized by impaired bone turnover and compromised bone strength, thereby predisposing to increased risk of fracture. Preclinical research has shown that compounds produced by the olive tree (Olea europaea), may protect from bone loss, by increasing osteoblast activity at the expense of adipocyte formation. The aim of this exploratory study was to obtain a first insight on the effect of intake of an olive extract on bone turnover in postmenopausal women with decreased bone mass (osteopenia).

DESIGN AND SETTING: For that, a double blind, placebo-controlled study was performed in which participants were randomly allocated to either treatment or placebo groups.

PARTICIPANTS: 64 osteopenic patients, with a mean bone mineral density (BMD) T-score between -1.5 and -2.5 in the lumbar spine (L2-L4) were included in the study.

INTERVENTION AND MEASUREMENTS: PARTICIPANTS received for 12 months daily either 250 mg/day of olive extract and 1000 mg Ca (treatment) or 1000 mg Ca alone (placebo). Primary endpoints consisted of evaluation of bone turnover markers. Secondary endpoints included BMD measurements and blood lipid profiles.

RESULTS: After 12 months, the levels of the pro-osteoblastic marker osteocalcin were found to significantly increase in the treatment group as compared to placebo. Simultaneously, BMD decreased in the placebo group, while remaining stable in the treatment group. In addition, improved lipid profiles were observed, with significant decrease in total- and LDL-cholesterol in the treatment group.

CONCLUSION: This exploratory study supports preclinical observations and warrants further research by showing that a specific olive polyphenol extract (Bonolive®) affects serum osteocalcin levels and may stabilize lumbar spine BMD. Moreover, the improved blood lipid profiles suggest additional health benefits associated to the intake of the olive polyphenol extract.

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.

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