Vitamin D and Fish Oil – Time to Put Up or Shut Up

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Do I need to catch more sun and vitamin D?

Do I need to catch more sun and vitamin D?

The western world faces three very notorious killers: heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Just this week Michael Jackson (heart attack??) and Farah Fawcett (cancer) were struck down, and the media is waiting on baited breath for another celebrity to die and fulfill the “rule of threes.” Stroke, we’re looking at you. But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if there were just a few simple things you could eat or take that would protect you from all three killers?

That’s what the U.S. government is going to find out. The National Institute for Health (NIH) is funding a $20 million dollar study with 20,000 test subjects to explore how vitamin D and fish oil affect health. The Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (or VITAL) will be a five year study and will be one of the first to specifically target African Americans as test subjects. With darker skin producing less vitamin D in the body from sun exposure, scientists theorize there may be a link between a vitamin D deficiency and higher rates of stroke, heart disease, and cancer in the Af.Am. community.

Vitamin D and Fish Oil. Not quite the names for a buddy cop movie, but for the last decade, they’ve each been toted as the way to combat the killer diseases of our time. Vitamin D has been inconclusively linked to heart health and cancer prevention, not to mention bone strength. Fish Oil, with high levels of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids is supposed to good for everything from good skin to memory loss. When it comes to preventing stroke, heart attack, or cancer, these two guys seem like the ideal dietary supplements to take.

And in five years, we’ll hopefully know for certain. In the meantime, Dr. JoAnn Manson and Dr. Julie Buring, the heads of VITAL are gearing up for the trials. Starting in January of next year, they will recruit men over the age of 65 and women over 60 to take daily supplements and report on their health. These supplements will be either placebos, vitamin D, or fish oil. While the studies will be centered at Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the subjects will cover the entire U.S. With a relatively huge sampling (20,000 subjects) and double blind methodology, VITAL hopes to once and for all settle the long term benefits, or risks, of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

If the tests can conclusively prove the health benefits for these supplements they’ll be a fixture in the diets of all those seeking longevity or immortality, such as Singularity Hub regular Ray Kurzweil. Even if vitamin D and fish-oil aren’t shown to be miracle drugs the VITAL study could still reveal important facts about our health. Terrifying or wonderful surprises come standard with studies this large. For instance, who could have predicted that chemotherapy would help with wrinkles? In five years, we may all be rushing outside to soak up more sun or eating more sushi to prevent cancer. Personally, I’ll be waiting for the day you can get vitamin D from the glow of your computer screen.

Discussion — 25 Responses

  • Nelson June 29, 2009 on 2:59 pm

    Third celebrity deeath already happened: ed mcmahon.

  • Nelson June 29, 2009 on 10:59 am

    Third celebrity deeath already happened: ed mcmahon.

  • Raelifin June 29, 2009 on 3:17 pm

    Nope. The third death was BILLY MAYS.

  • Raelifin June 29, 2009 on 11:17 am

    Nope. The third death was BILLY MAYS.

  • Sean OBrien June 29, 2009 on 3:36 pm

    I hope they clarify the difference between Omega-3 from flaxseed oil versus fish. No mercury in flaxseed, no issues with overfishing. Is it the same stuff ??

  • Sean OBrien June 29, 2009 on 11:36 am

    I hope they clarify the difference between Omega-3 from flaxseed oil versus fish. No mercury in flaxseed, no issues with overfishing. Is it the same stuff ??

  • Steve June 29, 2009 on 4:29 pm

    David Carradine was first in this particular celeb-trinity, surely? He was death by masturbation and Mickey J. OD’d – I don’t think even a swimming pool full of fish oil could have prevented those deaths…

  • Steve June 29, 2009 on 12:29 pm

    David Carradine was first in this particular celeb-trinity, surely? He was death by masturbation and Mickey J. OD’d – I don’t think even a swimming pool full of fish oil could have prevented those deaths…

  • David June 29, 2009 on 6:33 pm

    I think June has just been a bad month to be a celebrity. 5 dead, and the month isn’t over.

  • David June 29, 2009 on 2:33 pm

    I think June has just been a bad month to be a celebrity. 5 dead, and the month isn’t over.

  • Pete June 29, 2009 on 9:42 pm

    Omega 3 oils from fish are different to those from flax. Fish oils contain DHA and EPA while flax contains alpha -linolenic acid. If you are vegetarian get the omega 3 oils derived from algae (which is where the fish get the oils) from not from flax.

    Oddly this trial will use 2000IU a day, a value already shown to be to low for some illnesses. The greatest effect on MS was seen at 14000IU a day and after a year there was no signs of any overdose. Do they want it to fail.

  • Pete June 29, 2009 on 5:42 pm

    Omega 3 oils from fish are different to those from flax. Fish oils contain DHA and EPA while flax contains alpha -linolenic acid. If you are vegetarian get the omega 3 oils derived from algae (which is where the fish get the oils) from not from flax.

    Oddly this trial will use 2000IU a day, a value already shown to be to low for some illnesses. The greatest effect on MS was seen at 14000IU a day and after a year there was no signs of any overdose. Do they want it to fail.

  • Charles June 30, 2009 on 12:37 am

    Why would any study of D3 (chloecalciferol) be restricted to only 2000 i.u. per day? This amount is insufficent to maintain a blood level of activated D3 of 50 ng/ml. The EXPERTS (those who have spent decades studying D3) recommend at least 5000 i.u. and even more in the fall and winter.

    Anyone who has supplemented with D3 knows of the difference this compound makes in EVERY aspect of normal life. Simply stated when I supplemented with D3 within 48 hours EVERYTHING in my body felt better. After 3 months my resting pulse when from 72 to 61. BP-always healthy- dropped 5/3. Joint pain: Gone. Blues: Gone. Muscle strength: up 15-18%. Gums stopped bleeding. Cholestreol dropped from 210 to 167 and I eat anything and everything loaded with such stuff.

    Vitamin D3 supplementation is the single most important health issue in the U.S. and for that matter the world outside of the tropics

    PERIOD!

    Within 5 years activated D3 will be recognized as this generation’s miracle drug equal or exceeding antibiotics in theraputic value. I already know this to be factual based on irrefutable reports of “grey ” studies yet to be released – pending peer review.

    Everyone needs to supplement D3 and do so immediately. 50 ng/ml serum concentration gives virtual immunity to EVERYTHING that kills the modern man.

    • toby lee Charles August 25, 2009 on 2:19 pm

      I agree. I was stunned when I last had my cholesterol and HDL checked. After 2 years on vitamin D the levels are now almost too good to be true. Have also modified my diet as well but do not believe diet alone could have resulted in such levels.

  • Charles June 29, 2009 on 8:37 pm

    Why would any study of D3 (chloecalciferol) be restricted to only 2000 i.u. per day? This amount is insufficent to maintain a blood level of activated D3 of 50 ng/ml. The EXPERTS (those who have spent decades studying D3) recommend at least 5000 i.u. and even more in the fall and winter.

    Anyone who has supplemented with D3 knows of the difference this compound makes in EVERY aspect of normal life. Simply stated when I supplemented with D3 within 48 hours EVERYTHING in my body felt better. After 3 months my resting pulse when from 72 to 61. BP-always healthy- dropped 5/3. Joint pain: Gone. Blues: Gone. Muscle strength: up 15-18%. Gums stopped bleeding. Cholestreol dropped from 210 to 167 and I eat anything and everything loaded with such stuff.

    Vitamin D3 supplementation is the single most important health issue in the U.S. and for that matter the world outside of the tropics

    PERIOD!

    Within 5 years activated D3 will be recognized as this generation’s miracle drug equal or exceeding antibiotics in theraputic value. I already know this to be factual based on irrefutable reports of “grey ” studies yet to be released – pending peer review.

    Everyone needs to supplement D3 and do so immediately. 50 ng/ml serum concentration gives virtual immunity to EVERYTHING that kills the modern man.

    • toby lee Charles August 25, 2009 on 10:19 am

      I agree. I was stunned when I last had my cholesterol and HDL checked. After 2 years on vitamin D the levels are now almost too good to be true. Have also modified my diet as well but do not believe diet alone could have resulted in such levels.

  • toby June 30, 2009 on 10:47 am

    If you are interested in vitamin D you should take a look at http://www.vitaminD3world.com The site has good summaries of the data and offers a new preparation of vitamin D in a micro-pill formulation. The pills have been formulated with cellulose which absorbs water very quickly. This ensures that the pill breaks up very quickly to provide for maximum absorption. The micro pill is tiny and tasteless. Many vitamin D pills on the market have very poor dissolution properties resulting in poor absorption.
    The site also offers to supply customers with a free supply of 400IU for their children and it also has a good newsletter.
    best regards
    Toby Lee

  • toby June 30, 2009 on 6:47 am

    If you are interested in vitamin D you should take a look at http://www.vitaminD3world.com The site has good summaries of the data and offers a new preparation of vitamin D in a micro-pill formulation. The pills have been formulated with cellulose which absorbs water very quickly. This ensures that the pill breaks up very quickly to provide for maximum absorption. The micro pill is tiny and tasteless. Many vitamin D pills on the market have very poor dissolution properties resulting in poor absorption.
    The site also offers to supply customers with a free supply of 400IU for their children and it also has a good newsletter.
    best regards
    Toby Lee

  • Neurologist July 2, 2009 on 10:51 am

    I had my cholesterol checked and my triglycerides were 363 and by HDL was down to 40.

    Getting old doesn’t have to be hell but after 40 you do have to supplement.

  • Neurologist July 2, 2009 on 6:51 am

    I had my cholesterol checked and my triglycerides were 363 and by HDL was down to 40.

    Getting old doesn’t have to be hell but after 40 you do have to supplement.

  • toby lee August 25, 2009 on 2:26 pm

    the other very concerning aspect of the Vital trial is that fish oil contains variable amounts of vitamin A and we know this may counteract the effects of vitamin D. To test two experimental agents at the same time is bad science and they have managed to find possibly the one molecule on the planet that is best not combined with vitamin D to test- stunningly stupid. As someone else said on this board “do they want to fail”

  • toby lee August 25, 2009 on 10:26 am

    the other very concerning aspect of the Vital trial is that fish oil contains variable amounts of vitamin A and we know this may counteract the effects of vitamin D. To test two experimental agents at the same time is bad science and they have managed to find possibly the one molecule on the planet that is best not combined with vitamin D to test- stunningly stupid. As someone else said on this board “do they want to fail”

  • Duane Storey January 22, 2010 on 4:58 pm

    You can actually get UVB lamps that generate small levels of vitamin D. It's the treatment for seasonal affective disorder. I've read lots of great studies about vitamin D recently. When research from New Zealand just showed that on a diet, the higher the baseline level of vitamin D, the more weight subjects lost over time.

  • Carl Haizen February 28, 2011 on 6:34 am

    Extremely interesting. Glad I stumbled accross this Vitamin d3 info, certainly heading to bookmark this to refer back again to it later on this is an superb assortment of sites.

  • Bunton June 6, 2013 on 11:40 pm

    Excellent article, thanks for sharing it with us. Vitamin D and fish oil are essential elements for healthcare and they help in controlling diseases. Keep doing good work.

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