Vitamin D, Omega 3 Supplements: Here’s What’s Wrong With Them

A new study debunked claims that vitamin D and marine omega-3 fatty acids could help reduce systemic inflammation. That means the supplements may offer little to no help in preventing inflammatory conditions, like cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. 

Over the past years, manufacturers have been endorsing vitamin D and omega-3 supplements as effective ways to avoid inflammation and related diseases. Systemic inflammation has been associated with cardiovascular conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes mellitus and osteoporosis, MedicalXpress reported Thursday.

"People commonly think that these supplements can prevent inflammatory diseases, but when a patient asks their doctor, 'Should I take this supplement?' doctors often don't know what to advise because there haven't been large scale clinical trials," Karen Costenbader, corresponding study author and a director at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said. "In this case, there isn't a strong message that either supplement will reduce risk of systemic inflammation, at least not the biomarkers of disease."

Costenbader and her colleagues collected data from more than 25,000 people. The researchers looked into their intake of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements and biomarkers of inflammation, including interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-receptor 2 and high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP).

The findings, published in the journal Clinical Chemistry, suggest that the two supplements did not reduce the biomarkers even after a year of regular intake. The people who took vitamin D supplement also had higher levels of the IL-6 biomarker. 

But in people who reported low consumption of fish at the start of the trial, intake of omega-3 supplement helped reduce hsCRP levels. 

"While the bottom line is that we didn't see a reduction in markers of inflammation for those who took either supplement, we did see that people whose fish intake was low at baseline had a reduction in one of the biomarkers of inflammation," Costenbader pointed out.

However, the researchers noted they analyzed biomarkers in 1,500 participants. The study also used only one formulation each of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements. 

More studies are needed to see and understand how other supplements affect inflammation and its related conditions. 

"It will be interesting and important to see the results of future VITAL analyses, especially those that look at risk of diseases rather than biomarkers," Costenbader added.

pills A survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) showed that 75 percent of U.S. individuals showed strong confidence in dietary supplements in 2018 Pixabay