Do Vitamin D and Omega-3 Fish Oil protect against Heart Attack, Cancer or Stroke?

Evidence suggest yes if you don’t already have issues. A new study published online Nov. 10, 2018, by The New England Journal of Medicine found they may actually prevent these conditions among people who have never had these problems before.

Researchers recruited almost 26,000 people, ages 50 and older, who had no history of heart disease or cancer. The participants were divided into four groups. People in one group were given daily doses of 2,000 international units of vitamin D (an amount found to be linked to lower disease risk in observational studies) and 1 gram of a drug called Lovaza (I’m assuming Lovaza had something to do with funding this study), which contained 840 milligrams of omega-3s (two to four times the amount in two servings of fish per week). The second group took vitamin D and a placebo, the third group took the omega-3s and a placebo, and the final group took two placebos. After more than five years, the researchers found that those given omega-3s were 28% less likely to suffer a heart attack compared with those given a placebo. Those who ate fewer servings of fish (less than the average of 1.5 servings per week) appeared to have a greater benefit from the additional omega-3s while those with higher fish intake had minimal benefit.

The study also found that those taking vitamin D supplements alone did not have lower rates of heart attack, stroke, or cancer. However, among people who later developed cancer, those who took vitamin D supplements for at least two years had a 25% lower chance of dying from their cancer compared with those who received a placebo.

So here’s the Recap:

Vitamin D alone lowers chance of cancer by 25% when taking 2,000 IU. Omega-3s patients were 28% less likely to suffer a heart attack.

The 2,000 IU used in the study is actually a lower dose than I recommend my patients to consume daily so imagine if they had the proper dosage. Over 80% of Americans are low in Vitamin D and about half those are deficient meaning if your healthcare practitioner figured it out you’d likely get a script for it or an injection or IV or something. It’s very odd that in today’s society we can’t be outside for 10-minutes a day to satisfy our Vitamin D requirements. Granted geographic location is a factor for some and season.

We fortified milk with Vitamin D for bone health. That was the big thing, but now we know healthy Vitamin D levels have important health benefits. I supplement with 5000 IU of Vitamin D daily.