Lab Rat

Take two daily
Before Winston was born, a friend alerted me to a study that KU was conducting.  The study is following breastfeeding women to see if high doses of DHA prevent bone loss due to lactation.  I qualified for the study and set everything up with the researchers before Winston was born.  Then I went back in a few weeks later to get my pills.

I did know it, but apparently when women lactate, the lose up to 8% of their bone density, which is a fairly large amount.  It makes sense - I have to assume it takes a large amount of calcium and other minerals to produce breastmilk, I just didn't realize it affected bone density.  My mom was diagnosed with pre-osteoporosis years ago, before turning 50 if I remember right.  Since this study does no harm at the least and may help bone density at best, I thought it'd be good to volunteer.

The study is using either a placebo or 2 grams of DHA in pill form.  (DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.)  For comparison, John and I have been taking a high-potency fish oil in gel form.  The standard dose for an adult is 230 mg DHA or 0.23 grams.  The study does is almost 10 times that amount.  That's some expensive fish oil!

Besides getting my pills, I had to answer a bunch of questions, have height, weight, and blood pressure measured, give blood, urine, and breastmilk samples, and have a bone density scan done.  In the following 3 months I also had to do a food diary for one 3-day period.

I had my 3 month follow up a few weeks ago where I learned, much to my delight, that I'd lost almost 10 pounds since my first visit.  And as luck would have it, the kinesiologist who operates the bone density scanner is a triathlete.  After the study is over, he offered to do a body composition scan for free (read: very expensive body fat test that normal people not associated with a university or professional athletes don't have access to.  Score!).

I'm pretty sure I'm not in the placebo group.  How do I know?  Like any good engineer, I wanted to know what was in the capsule.  And unless they are going to great lengths to produce very realistic placebos, I would venture based on the odd citrus-fish smell that I have the real deal.  Don't ask me why they use citrus to mask the fish but the fish oil John and I buy does the same thing.

There is some compensation involved.  I get paid a whopping $25 for each visit I complete.  I have visits at 6 mo, 12 mo, and 18 mo.  It doesn't even cover my hourly pay for the time each appointment takes, but assuming I do have the fish oil, the cost of supplements is worth it.  And why not help further research?  Maybe in a few years it will be standard for breastfeeding women to get prescription fish to help prevent bone loss.

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