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New Fish Oil, Vitamin D Studies Focus in on Who Benefits

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Big studies on fish oil and vitamin D offer suggestions on who does and does not benefit from these popular nutrients.

Results were revealed on November 10 at an American Heart Association conference in Chicago, IL and published by the New England Journal of Medicine in a study titled “The Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL).”

The Associated Press reported that the study found fish oil taken by healthy people, at a dose found in many supplements, showed no clear ability to lower heart or cancer risks—same for vitamin D. “But higher amounts of a purified, prescription fish oil slashed heart problems and heart-related deaths among people with high triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, and other risks for heart disease. Doctors cheered the results and said they could suggest a new treatment option for hundreds of thousands of patients like these,” the AP added.

According to Duffy MacKay, ND, senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), other promising results also stood tall.

“While early news coverage has focused on topline results, CRN is encouraged by several very positive findings showing benefits of omega-3 and vitamin D supplementation in additional analyses:

  • Almost a 30 percent reduction in heart attacks in the fish oil group compared with placebo.
  • A 40 percent reduction of heart attacks in fish oil groups who had less than 1.5 servings of fish per week, with even more dramatic impacts among African-Americans.
  • Reduction in the rate of cancer deaths two or more years later in people who took vitamin D.

“The study reaffirms the safety of both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, and does not change decades of research showing how critical vitamin D and omega-3 supplementation are for overall health:

  • Vitamin D, a nutrient of public health concern, plays an important role in bone health, immune function, and maintaining cardiovascular health in adults.
  • Omega-3 is essential to cardiovascular health, prenatal health, and cognitive health.

These findings are promising, and CRN looks forward to ancillary studies that are expected to be published from this impressive data collected on over 25,000 participants.”

 

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