VITAL study investigates vitamin D and fish oil effects on autoimmune disease incidence
Positive news about vitamin D and fish oil supplements is coming out of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. As reported by HealthDay News and CNN, a new study published in BMJ showed vitamin D and omega-3 fish oil supplementation protected people over 50 against developing autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
By the numbers: This news comes from the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled “VITAL” study involving the following study population, intervention, duration and results:
25,871 men and women 50 and older
2,000 IU vitamin D3 and/or
1,000 mg omega-3 fatty acids
5+ years of supplementation
22% lower relative rate of confirmed autoimmune diagnoses in those supplemented with vitamin D
The lower relative rate dropped to 39% after subjects took vitamin D for at least two years. The study reported a 15% lower relative rate in those that supplemented with omega-3s (not statistically significant).
More good news about vitamin D is available on the CRN Foundation’s Vitamin D & Me! website.
“This is compelling research that has real-world implications for many Americans,” CRN’s Andrea Wong, Ph.D., says in WholeFoods Magazine. “The prevalence of autoimmune diseases is on the rise, and these diseases can cause serious tissue and organ damage.”
Game changer: “Data showing that supplementing with two commonly available and important nutrients, vitamin D and omega-3, could reduce incidence rates is a real game-changer,” says Dr. Wong in Nutraceuticals World. “Treatment today is all focused on symptom management, and managing immune responses within the body. To prevent the disease from manifesting in the first place is critical.”
Vitamin D and marine omega 3 fatty acid supplementation and incident autoimmune disease: VITAL randomized controlled trial
A new study published in the British Medical Journal by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital showed vitamin D and omega-3 supplementation protected people over 50 against developing autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
The Vitamin D and omega 3 trial (VITAL) is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in a racially diverse cohort of over 25,000 men and women 50 years and older.
The researchers noted, “This trial did not intend to examine vitamin D supplementation in a population that was vitamin D deficient, but in participants representative of vitamin D levels in other large trials and in the general older adult population in the United States.”
Study participants received 2,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D3, 1,000 mg omega-3 fatty acids, both vitamin D and omega-3s, or placebo for a median of 5.3 years.
Participants were required to limit vitamin D use from outside sources to no more than 800 IU/day, and to forego the use of fish oil supplements.
- 22% lower relative rate of confirmed autoimmune diagnoses in those supplemented with vitamin D with or without omega-3s
- The rate further dropped to 39% after subjects had been taking vitamin D for at least two years.
- 15% lower relative rate in those supplemented with omega-3s (not statistically significant).
Results of this large-scale clinical trial show that supplementation with these important nutrients may reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases, which are a leading cause of morbidity in the industrialized world, as well as mortality among women. The lack of effective treatments for autoimmune diseases can result in societal and economic burdens.
The authors stated, “The clinical importance of these findings is high because these are well tolerated, non-toxic supplements, and other effective treatments to reduce the incidence of autoimmune diseases are lacking. Additionally, we saw consistent results across autoimmune diseases and increasing effects with time.”